The healing benefits of seaweed and algae from around the world
The sea has long been a source of healing. Sea therapy, or Thalassotherapy, from the Greek thalassa (“the sea”) and therap (“treat”), has been around for centuries: It uses seawater, mud, clay and protein-rich algae to restore the body’s natural chemical balance. Seawater and blood plasma have an almost identical chemical composition, which makes seawater the perfect solution to replenish the body’s minerals. Algae and seaweeds, which are a type of algae, contain strong antioxidants and a variety of beneficial vitamins to help protect your skin against free radicals, and can aid in treating a number of skin conditions, including psoriasis and eczema.
Now, companies are harnessing the power of the sea through concentrated algae-based products. Technology has advanced tremendously, helping to preserve vital nutrients and create potent extracts. But in addition to harvesting and processing methods, it’s very important to know where materials are sourced to ensure they are free from impurities.
On a trip to Buenos Aires, I followed in the footsteps of Jenefer Palmer, founder of the algae-based skincare line OSEA. I headed to Home, a boutique hotel in the trendy Palermo district, where Palmer was inspired to start her company after having indulged in a fresh Patagonian algae bath there. She traced the algae all the way south to “el fin del mundo”—the end of the earth—and a skincare line was born. Home now offers OSEA facials, which are so relaxing that you might find yourself lulled into a deeply meditative state.
To round out my South American algae experience, I visited the newly renovated CIELO Spa in the Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires. Its Remodeling Seaweed Treatment uses caffeine, seaweed and seawater to help slim the body and improve skin tone. Following a thorough exfoliation, my therapist applied marine powder, marine serum and a marine-based body cream. Emerging from the cocoon an hour and a half later, my parched post-plane skin felt completely rejuvenated.
These marine products—which use natural algae and sea salts sourced from Patagonia, France, Canada, Israel and Ireland—will keep your skin looking fresh and hydrated all year round.
Shamanuti Seaweed Toner
This power-packed toner contains Atlantic kelp sourced north of Bar Harbor, Dead Sea salt, tea tree oil and freshwater blue-green microalgae. Aside from being refreshing, the toner adjusts pH and refines pores. We love the strong bergamot and neroli presence, which has a positive effect on the nervous system and are anti-inflammatory. $28; shamanuti.com
Phytocéane AquaSaphir Eye Countour Cream
Sustainable blue micro-algae smoothes skin and helps fade dark circles, while buckwheat oil works to combat puffiness, so you can appear rested even when you’re short on sleep from long nights. $90; phytoceane.com
Seaflora Seaweed Body Gel
This signature product, which contains 80 percent wild seaweeds from off the west coast of Vancouver Island, deeply quenches thirsty skin. A great summer alternative to heavy creams, the nourishing lightweight gel also helps minimize the appearance of cellulite. $42; sea-flora.com
OSEA Undaria Algae Oil
Perfect for dry, sun-damaged skin, this lightweight marine-based body oil is packed with healing oils, including açaí, babassu, passion fruit and sesame. Undaria algae, hand-harvested off the coast of Patagonia, delivers powerful antioxidant vitamins and essential fatty acids to damaged skin. $16-40;
Terre & Mer by Thalgo Anti-aging Concentrate
Thalgo, the renowned natural marine skincare brand, has just launched a new organic line! We love the Anti-Ageing Concentrate, which soothes and smoothes the skin with organic olive, sunflower and sweet almond oils. $48; thalgousa.com
VOYA Get Glowing Illuminating Clay Mask
VOYA, an Irish family-owned business, produced the world’s first range of certified organic seaweed-based products—seaweeds are still sustainably hand-harvested in Ireland by the Walton family. This blend of rosemary and mineral-rich seaweed removes dead skin cells and tightens pores, leaving skin deeply detoxified and radiant. $70; voya.ie
Mer-Sea Crisp Sails Salt Soak
Pamper yourself with a Dead Sea salt bath, containing pure salts from Israel. This signature blend is a refreshing mix of orange and green camphor, spicy cloves and flowers. Salts come packaged in reusable glass jars or corked glass tubes that are perfect for gifts. $15; merseaco.com
ESPA Optimal Skin ProSerum
This unique formula deeply nourishes while offering the active benefits of plant extracts, including kalpariane seaweed, which helps lock in moisture. Omega fatty acids, vitamins and turmeric help brighten and even skin tone while protecting against premature aging. The seaweeds and algae used in ESPA’s products are sourced from the Atlantic coasts of France (Brittany) and Ireland. $85; us.espaskincare.com