Natural, caring and effective. The use of cosmetic products has increasingly become a routine in our daily lives. Some soap in the morning when we are standing under the shower, an increasing amount of hand-washing
since the start of the corona crisis and some moisturizing cream to take care of dry skin. Maybe some final eye-liner in the train on the way to your commute and you are ready to go.
Next to these cosmetic products which are common in all our daily lives, so-called “cosmeceuticals” are increasingly developed. These are products that contain bio-active components which provide additional health and pharmaceutical effects. Typical ingredients of products that are considered cosmeceuticals are for example vitamins, peptides and botanical or marine extracts. With advances in algae research, an increasing number of molecules with positive properties has been identified in algal extracts, and various cosmeceutical properties are linked to this specimen.
Examples of these compounds are:
• the omega-3-fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
• a range of vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, D, E, K)
• various carotenoids, peptides and proteins containing all essential amino acids, complex polysaccharides and minerals such as zinc, phosphorus and magnesium. Several of these components are highlighted below.
Omega-3-fatty acids are well-known nutrients found mainly in fatty fish such as salmon, however, they are also associated with photo-protection and anti-ageing properties of cosmetics. Eicosapentaenoic acid (ESA) was, for example, reported to decrease metalloproteinase-1 expression, thereby reducing UV-induced epidermal thickening and collagen decrease. Additionally, this fatty acid is linked to increased elastic and collagen fibres by increasing transforming growth factor-b.
The vitamin B family is quite commonly used in cosmetics, both in skincare as well as hair care. Vitamin B3 is associated with improved collagen production, while vitamin B5 is used as a skin and hair moisturizer and is also known for its anti-inflammatory effect and assistance in wound healing. Vitamin B6 is linked to improved hair condition and is also used in anti-dandruff products amongst others.
Algae are a major source of proteins, with some species containing up to 70% of protein. As these proteins are strong binders to hair and skin, cosmetics compounded with these show improved moisture retention and improve the feel. Generally hydrolyzed proteins work best in these formulations as they are more readily soluble in water and are often stable to UV, heat and other outside factors.
Various algal polysaccharides are known to be excellent moisturizers of which some surpass the moisturizing efficacy of hyaluronic acid. As moisturization of the skin is one of the first protections against the ageing of the skin, the retention of water is an important property of many dermal cosmetics. While the supply of hyaluronic acid is often limited and therefore costly, algal extracts are abundantly available and relatively cheap to obtain. Other applications for the polysaccharides are in modifying the viscosity, emulsifier or emollient.
Next to these four highlighted components, the presence of other vitamins, carotenoids with UV-protective properties and various minerals make algae extracts or lyophilized algae excellent bio-promising ingredients for many cosmetic applications. Examples of these could be in hair products, moisturizing creams, face and hair masks and body lotions. With increasing customer attention directed to the origin of cosmetic ingredients, algae make an excellent starting point for many bioactive components.