There are over 12,000 species of seaweed in the world, in the UK alone there are over 600 dotted around our rugged coastlines. A common sight along shores and beaches, at some point most of us will have encountered seaweed and not given it much of a second thought.
What if we told you this very unassuming marine algae is a powerhouse of a plant that delivers scientifically proven results in skincare?
Let’s talk about seaweed
Another name for seaweed is macro algae - the term scientists use to refer to plant life in the sea that can be seen with the naked eye. It comes in lots of different varieties, and its complex biological structure cleverly absorbs all the nutrients that support life in the ocean.
There are three main types, red (Rhodophyta), brown (Phaeophyceae) and green (Chlorophyta). The smallest seaweeds are just a few millimetres in size, and the largest can grow up to 50 metres. Sometimes they’re attached to the seabed, sometimes not.
As a marine plant, seaweed does not need soil, fresh water or fertiliser to grow; it is completely self-sufficient, nutrient-dense and grows rapidly year-round. It's a perfectly sustainable ingredient for nutrition and skincare products, that packs a powerful punch of natural benefits.
We hand-harvest nutrient-rich Hebridean seaweed, rotating the locations visited carefully to give nature a chance to replenish her stocks properly.
Let’s talk about science
Seaweed is bursting at the seams with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Scientific research has looked extensively at the remarkable power of antioxidants and how beneficial they are in skincare. Traditionally, seaweed can have a particular odour after it’s been harvested. ishga founder and lead scientist Malcolm MacRae designed a process to extract all the goodness from the seaweed, but without any smell. This extract is the foundation of the ishga range. Scientifically proven, the seaweed extracts used in our range have been independently tested and were found to contain high levels of polyphenol antioxidants, alginates, fucoidan, fucoxanthin, and a range of minerals and vitamins which are all recognised as being beneficial to the skin.
Key benefits of seaweed in skincare (part 1)
1 It regenerates skin cells
Studies show that brown seaweed accelerates skin cell regeneration. Fucoidan found in the cell walls of seaweeds have demonstrated the ability to support wound healing and the formation of skin tissue. This means skin blemishes and marks can fade more effectively when the seaweed extract found across ishga products is applied.
2 It supports collagen
Studies show that fucoidan rich seaweed increases collagen production, playing an essential part in the repair and regeneration of the skin. After around the age of 25, collagen production reduces about 1-2% per year and is broken down quicker by an enzyme called collagenase. This can cause wrinkles and reduced elasticity of the skin. Seaweed’s that we hand harvest from the mineral rich waters of the Hebrides have been found to contain bioactive compounds which block this enzyme, resulting in higher levels of collagen, preventing visible signs of ageing.
3 It has detoxifying effects
Vitamin rich Hebridean seaweed contains high levels of polysaccharides, such as alginates and fucoidan. These molecules bind to harmful metal components such as mercury, lead and cobalt that can be found in small amounts in the skin. This reduces the damaging effects they can have, and results in reduced inflammation and improved elasticity of the skin.
4 It's a potent source of antioxidants
Hebridean seaweed contains high levels of polyphenols and flavonoids. These antioxidant compounds provide protection against environmental damage to the skin by neutralising free radicals. Free radicals are harmful molecules that exist all around us which can cause inflammation of the skin and accelerate signs of ageing. ishga's unique seaweed extracts are used across our skincare range, featuring water-soluble antioxidant molecules to penetrate the skin barrier more effectively, resulting in the prevention of skin blemishes and fine lines.
5 It promotes Hyaluronic Acid (HA)
Hyaluronic acid plays an important role in the epidermal barrier function, helping to limit water loss, reduce damaging chemical absorption and preventing infection. It also hydrates and increases the rate of skin cell regeneration and healing. Seaweed extracts are known to stimulate the production of hyaluronic acid and inhibit the enzyme responsible for the breakdown of it, called hyaluronidase.
Shop our organic seaweed skincare here.
Stay tuned for part two coming soon!