Best Seaweed and Algae Ingredients for Personal Care

Buyers' Guide

Best Seaweed and Algae Ingredients for Personal Care

Date published:
March 25, 2024

Seaweed and micro-algae are gaining prominence as all-natural, functional ingredients in personal care products as demand for clean-label, effective skincare solutions increases. Although seaweed and micro-algae have been used in the industry since the 1960s, there has been a renewed interest due to a growing number of studies conducted on individual species of algae and their specific capabilities. These marine plants can offer a rich array of benefits, including hydration, anti-aging properties, and enhanced skin health, making them a compelling ingredient for the personal care industry. 

This comprehensive B2B Buyers’ Guide delves into various types of common seaweed and micro-algae ingredients, highlighting their specific benefits and applications in the personal care space. Designed for product development professionals and procurement teams, the guide provides insights into how these ingredients can enhance product offerings and meet current consumer demands. It also provides procurement tips for businesses looking to source trustworthy, transparent seaweed and micro-algae so businesses can stay at the forefront of the evolving personal care industry.

IMPORTANT: For clarity purposes, there are two general categories of algae - macro-algae and micro-algae. Macro-algae is commonly known as seaweed and predominantly grows in ocean water.  Micro-algae is a unicellular organism and grows in both freshwater and the ocean. We use the words seaweed and algae interchangeably throughout the guide.

Our Top Picks
Irish Moss

Best Seaweed for Skin Hydration


Best Seaweed for All-Around Benefits


Best Compound for Anti-Aging Properties


Best Compound for Antioxidants

Irish Moss

Irish Moss


Best Seaweed for Skin Hydration

Irish moss (or commonly referred to as, “sea moss”) is a red algae that has been a staple in many coastal regions along the Atlantic Ocean for its diverse uses. One of its most notable benefits for the skin is its hydrating and moisturizing capabilities. This is because sea moss contains a high content of carrageenan, a natural sugar, which has the ability to hold water and increase skin hydration. Its application in the skincare industry has been accelerated over the past few years as a result of celebrity endorsements touting its rich composition of vitamins, minerals, and polysaccharides.1 2 3 4

For clarity - sea moss is a generic term used to describe different species of red algae that includes Irish moss. Irish moss—formally known as Chondrus crispus—is most commonly harvested along the Atlantic coasts in the Americas and Europe. Brands often use the term, “sea moss” to refer to other types of red algae sourced from the Caribbean called Gracilaria. It is important for businesses to understand this point as these species contain different properties and functional profiles. We will use the term, “sea moss” throughout the guide, and are referring to the species Chondrus crispus.

  • Hydration and Elasticity: Promotes skin hydration and elasticity.3 4 5
  • Rich in Nutrients: Contains essential minerals, vitamins, and bioactive compounds beneficial for skin health.1 6
  • Versatility in Formulations: Can be integrated into a wide range of personal care products.
  • Cultural and Historical Relevance: Comes with a rich cultural heritage, adding a unique storytelling element to product marketing.2
  • Cost: May be costlier than synthetic alternatives due to natural sourcing and processing requirements.
  • Potential Allergenic Reactions: Like any natural ingredient, it may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.
  • Sourcing Variability: Quality and composition can vary depending on harvesting location and conditions.
  • Processing: Requires careful processing to retain its beneficial properties.

Top personal care applications for Sea Moss

Sea moss can be easily integrated into various product formulations. Below are some of the top applications of sea moss in the personal care space:

  • Creams and Lotions: Sea moss excels in formulations aimed at hydrating the skin. Its ability to lock in moisture and reduce trans-epidermal water loss makes it a choice ingredient for moisturizers.
  • Anti-aging Serums: Due to its mineral and vitamin content, sea moss is beneficial in anti-aging serums. It helps in improving skin elasticity and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Facial Masks: Incorporating sea moss in facial masks provides a soothing and healing effect. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it suitable for calming irritated skin, reducing redness, and improving overall skin texture.
  • Exfoliating Scrubs: Sea moss can be utilized in exfoliating scrubs primarily for its skin hydration and nourishment benefits. 
  • Soothing Gels and Balms: Sea moss can be formulated into gels and balms for use in products targeting skin soothing properties.
  • Hair Care Products: Carrageenans extracted from sea moss can be used in the composition of hair conditioners, shampoos, and lotions both as a thickening agent and for moisture retention.
  • Sunscreens: Sea moss contains UV-absorbing compounds known as mycosporine-like amino acids that can be used in sunscreen formulations.

Sea Moss health benefits for personal care

  • Sea Moss Benefit #1 - Moisturizing Effect: Sea Moss is known for its moisturizing properties, particularly due to the high amount of carrageenans, which is a  polysaccharide. These act as a thickening agent, forming a protective but breathable film over the skin, making it ideal for moisturizers and serums​.3 4 5
  • Sea Moss Benefit #2 - Essential Vitamins and Minerals: Sea moss is a natural source of essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin B2, calcium, folate, magnesium, zinc, and iodine. These nutrients are vital for maintaining healthy skin and hair, contributing to overall skin health and hair vitality when used in personal care products. 1 6
  • Sea Moss Benefit #3 - Potential Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Some studies have highlighted the anti-inflammatory effects of polysaccharides derived from Sea moss and its potential for skin-health applications. 7 8
  • Sea Moss Benefit #4 - Potential UV-Protection Effect: Sea moss contains mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs), which are known to absorb UV radiation, offering potential protective effects against sun damage. 9 10 11

What products can Sea Moss replace?

Sea moss is a versatile and natural alternative that can be used across several personal care products. These include:

  • Synthetic Moisturizers: Sea moss can replace synthetic moisturizers, offering natural hydration and improving skin elasticity without nasty chemicals.
  • Synthetic Hair Care Products: As a natural hair fortifier, sea moss can substitute chemical-based ingredients in shampoos and conditioner formulations, promoting hair strength and scalp health.
  • Synthetic Anti-Aging Products: Due to its anti-aging properties, sea moss can replace anti-aging creams and serums that contain synthetic ingredients.
  • Thickening Agents: Its natural gel-like consistency allows it to substitute synthetic thickeners in personal care formulations, naturally enhancing product texture.

What types of personal care businesses use Sea Moss?

Sea moss can be used by various businesses in the personal care space to enhance product functionality and meet consumer demands for natural ingredients.

  • Skincare Product Manufacturers: Incorporate sea moss for its hydrating and anti-aging properties in creams, serums, and masks.
  • Hair Care Brands: Utilize Sea moss’s nutrient-rich composition to formulate all-natural shampoos, conditioners, and hair treatments that strengthen, hydrate, and add shine to hair.
  • Spa and Salon Suppliers: Use sea moss in spa treatments and professional salon products for its 100% natural soothing and restorative effects on skin and hair.
  • Cosmetic Companies: Employ Sea moss as a natural thickening agent and moisturizer in makeup products, ensuring smoother application on the skin.



Best Seaweed for All-Around Benefits

Kelp has solidified their presence in the personal care industry. It contains a variety of polysaccharides and vitamins/minerals that make it the best all-around seaweed for skin care. Kelp has been touted for its hydration capabilities, antioxidant properties, anti-inflammatory effects, and detoxifying abilities. It’s been cited that kelp brings a multifaceted approach to skin health as it addresses hydration, inflammation, and texture improvement.4 12 13 14    

Two common compounds found in Kelp extracts that are increasingly being used in the industry are fucoidan and laminarian. We dig further into fucoidan later in the guide.

Kelp is a brown seaweed and one of the most abundant types of seaweed grown around the world. There are several species of kelp currently used for skincare applications, each carries its unique properties and applications. As more data and studies have been released on individual species of algae, product developers and formulators are now combining different types of kelp extracts to target specific functional profiles for their products. We have listed a few species of kelp commonly used for personal care products below:

Kelp common name Species name Most common applications
Giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera Anti-aging products and hydrating treatments.
Sugar kelp Saccharina latissima Moisturizers, serums, and face masks.
Oarweed Laminaria digitata Moisturizers, serums, and face masks.
Rockweed Ascophyllum nodosum Exfoliating scrubs and facial masks.
Bladderwrack Fucus vesiculosus Products that boost skin firmness.

  • Rich in Nutrients and Antioxidants: Kelp contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which are beneficial for skin health and help in reducing signs of aging​.13 15
  • Versatility in Product Formulation: Kelp can be used in various forms across several personal care products.
  • Seasonality: Kelp is grown in the ocean and is only harvested at specific times throughout the year.  
  • Variability in Composition: The nutrient profile of kelp can vary based on environmental factors, affecting its consistency in formulations.

Top personal care applications for Kelp

Kelp is known for its wide-ranging benefits in the personal care industry. Kelp can be used for:

  • Moisturizers and Creams: Kelp's hydrating properties make it ideal for moisturizers and creams. It helps to improve skin elasticity and hydration, leaving the skin feeling soft and rejuvenated. 16
  • Anti-aging Serums: Kelp can be used for its antioxidant properties in anti-aging serums. These antioxidants combat free radical damage, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and promote a youthful skin complexion. 4
  • Sunscreen Products: Kelp can be used in sunscreen products for its natural UV protection properties. It can enhance the efficacy of sunscreens while providing additional skin benefits. 16 17
  • Soaps: Kelp can be used in soap formulations to provide a natural and nourishing element to cleanse and revitalize the skin.

Kelp health benefits for personal care

Most of kelp’s benefits come from active compounds that are found in the seaweed. These include items like fucoidan and laminarin.  

  • Kelp Benefit #1 - Hydration: Kelp is known for its hydrating properties, particularly due to its high content of natural polysaccharides, which can bind water and hydrate the skin effectively. This makes kelp extracts beneficial for use in moisturizers and serums.12 15
  • Kelp Benefit #2 - Anti-aging: The antioxidants present in kelp, such as vitamins C and E, can help protect the skin from oxidative stress and may reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. These compounds help in maintaining skin elasticity and firmness. 18
  • Kelp Benefit #3 - UV Protection: Kelp contains compounds that can absorb UV light and protect the skin from sun damage. This UV protection capability can potentially help in reducing the risk of premature aging and skin cancer.16 17
  • Kelp Benefit #4 - Anti-inflammatory Effects: Kelp has anti-inflammatory properties that can help in reducing redness, swelling, and irritation in the skin. This makes it suitable for use in products targeting sensitive or inflamed skin.12

What products can Kelp replace?

Kelp presents a versatile and natural alternative to several traditional ingredients. Here's what ingredients kelp can replace in the personal care space: 

  • Artificial Moisturizing Agents: With its natural moisturizing properties, kelp can replace artificial moisturizers in skincare products, providing hydration and enhancing skin elasticity.
  • Synthetic Antioxidants in Skin Care: Due to its high antioxidant content, kelp serves as a natural alternative to synthetic antioxidants in skincare products.
  • Synthetic UV-Protection Ingredients: Kelp's natural compounds offer protection against UV radiation, making it a potential replacement for certain chemical UV filters in sunscreen products.

What types of personal care businesses use Kelp?

Kelp’s versatility extends across a broad spectrum of product types. The following types of businesses in the personal care industry can benefit from integrating kelp into their products:

  • Skincare Product Manufacturers: These companies can utilize kelp for its hydrating and anti-aging properties in products like moisturizers, serums, and face masks. 
  • Natural Product Lines: Businesses focusing on natural personal care products can leverage kelp as a key ingredient due to its biobased, nutrient-dense profile, appealing to environmentally conscious consumers.
  • Wellness and Spa Product Suppliers: Kelp is ideal for spa and wellness products, such as body wraps, exfoliants, and massage oils.
  • Men’s Grooming Products: Kelp can be incorporated into men’s grooming products like beard oils, facial creams, and shaving products for its soothing, hydrating, and skin-protective benefits.



Best Compound for Anti-Aging Properties

Fucoidan is a polysaccharide extracted from brown seaweeds. It is a dynamic ingredient for hydration and improving the overall health and appearance of the skin. It also contains antioxidant and antimicrobial properties making it effective against UV damage and suitable for a wide range of skincare applications targeting anti-aging. 19 20

Fucoidan is a 100% natural ingredient that aligns well with current trends toward clean skincare formulations.

  • Multifunctional Properties: Offers hydrating, antioxidant, and antimicrobial benefits.
  • Diverse Sourcing: Available from various brown seaweeds.
  • Diverse Application: Can be used in multiple types of personal care products due to its varied active properties.
  • Quality: It is difficult to find verified, high-purity sources.
  • Higher Cost Compared to Synthetics: May be more costly than synthetic alternatives.
  • Integration into Existing Formulations: May require formulation adjustments to maintain product stability and efficacy.

Top personal care applications for Fucoidan

Fucoidan can be integrated into various personal care products for improved efficacy. Below are some of the top applications of fucoidan:

  • Anti-aging Skin Creams and Serums: Fucoidan’s anti-aging properties make it ideal for use in skin creams and serums. It helps to reduce wrinkles and age spots, enhancing skin radiance and firmness.
  • Moisturizing Lotions: Fucoidan's skin hydration properties make it an excellent addition to moisturizing lotions, helping to retain skin moisture and improve skin texture.
  • Sunscreen and UV Protection Products: Due to its UV protective properties, fucoidan can be integrated into sunscreens and other UV protection products, aiding in skin protection against harmful sun rays.
  • Acne and Blemish Control Formulations: The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of fucoidan contribute to its effectiveness in acne and blemish control products, helping to reduce skin inflammation and prevent acne.

Fucoidan health benefits for personal care

  • Fucoidan Benefit #1 - Skin Hydration and Repair: Offers properties that may aid in skin hydration and repair.
  • Fucoidan Benefit #2 - Anti-Aging Properties: Clinical studies have shown that fucoidan can reduce wrinkle depth and increase skin elasticity. Its ability to protect the skin's building blocks and enhance dermal condition positions it as a potent ingredient in anti-aging skincare products​​. 21
  • Fucoidan Benefit #3 - UV Protection: Due to seaweed’s natural defense mechanism, fucoidan provides UV protective effects. This makes it suitable for sunscreens and other UV protection skincare products, aiding in shielding the skin from sun rays​​.21
  • Fucoidan Benefit #4 - Reduction of Hyperpigmentation: Fucoidan's ability to reduce hyperpigmentation makes it a suitable ingredient for products targeting uneven skin tone and age spots. It helps in achieving a more uniform skin appearance.21
  • Fucoidan Benefit #5 - Immune System Modulation: Fucoidan may help to enhance the body's immune response. This could be beneficial in skincare products aimed at boosting skin's natural defense mechanisms.21

What products does Fucoidan replace?

Fucoidan can be a versatile substitute for common, synthetic ingredients in the personal care industry. 

  • Synthetic Anti-Aging Agents: Fucoidan's natural anti-aging properties can help to reduce wrinkles and enhance skin elasticity. This makes it an effective substitute for synthetic anti-aging ingredients.
  • Chemical Sunscreens: With its UV protective capabilities, fucoidan offers a natural alternative to chemical sunscreens, providing skin protection without the use of synthetic compounds.
  • Artificial Skin Brighteners: Fucoidan's ability to reduce pigmentation and enhance skin radiance allows it to replace artificial skin brighteners in cosmetic products, offering a more natural approach to achieving even skin tone.
  • Synthetic Antioxidants in Skincare: Fucoidan's antioxidant activity helps protect the skin from oxidative stress, making it a suitable replacement for synthetic antioxidants in skincare formulations.

What types of personal care businesses use Fucoidan?

A wide range of personal care businesses can benefit from incorporating fucoidan in their product lines:

  • Anti-Aging Product Manufacturers: Fucoidan's effectiveness in hydration and anti-aging care, particularly in reducing wrinkles and improving skin elasticity, makes it a valuable addition to anti-aging product lines.
  • Sunscreen Manufacturers: As a natural UV protector, fucoidan provides a healthier, natural alternative to chemical sunscreens, aligning with the trend towards natural sun care products.
  • Wellness and Spa Products: Its soothing and hydrating qualities make fucoidan ideal for wellness and spa products that are looking for natural, therapeutic properties.



Best Compound for Antioxidants

Astaxanthin is a powerful carotenoid pigment derived from micro-algae. It is known as one of the most potent antioxidants that exist, surpassing things like vitamins C and E. In skincare, astaxanthin is praised for its ability to combat oxidative stress and reduce signs of aging such as wrinkles, fine lines, and pigmentation. With the rising trend towards natural ingredients, astaxanthin stands out for its multiple benefits and suitability for a range of skincare products. 22 23 24 25 26

Note: Astaxanthin is most commonly extracted from the micro-algae species Haematococcus pluvialis.

  • Antioxidant Superpower: Protects against skin aging, outperforming other carotenoids and antioxidants.
  • All-around Skin Health: Can enhance skin elasticity, moisture levels, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and age spots.
  • Cost and Availability: High-quality astaxanthin can be expensive and difficult to source due to its natural extraction process.
  • Stability Issues: Sensitive to light and oxygen, requires careful formulation and packaging.

Top personal care applications for Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant that can be used as a key ingredient in personal care products. Here are some of the top applications of astaxanthin in the personal care industry:

  • Anti-aging Creams and Serums: Astaxanthin's potent antioxidant properties help combat signs of aging, making it ideal for creams and serums aimed at reducing wrinkles, fine lines, and improving skin elasticity.
  • Sunscreen and UV Protection Products: Due to its ability to absorb UV radiation and protect the skin from sun damage, astaxanthin is a valuable ingredient in sunscreens and after-sun care products.
  • Moisturizing Lotions and Oils: Astaxanthin can enhance skin hydration and barrier function, making it beneficial in moisturizers and body oils for dry and sensitive skin.
  • Lip Care Products: Incorporating astaxanthin in lip balms and glosses can help protect lips from environmental stressors and improve hydration.

Astaxanthin health benefits for personal care

  • Astaxanthin Benefit #1 - Anti-Aging Properties: Astaxanthin's potent antioxidant properties combat free radicals and oxidative stress, significantly reducing the signs of aging and protecting skin cells from environmental damage.25
  • Astaxanthin Benefit #2 - UV Protection: Astaxanthin helps protect the skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation, reducing the risk of photoaging and skin cancer, which supports its inclusion in sunscreens and after-sun products. 24
  • Astaxanthin Benefit #3 - Inflammation Reduction: Its anti-inflammatory properties make astaxanthin suitable for products targeting skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, and acne, helping to soothe irritated skin.26

What products does astaxanthin replace?

Astaxanthin can serve as a natural alternative to various traditional ingredients in personal care formulations.

  • Synthetic Antioxidants: Astaxanthin's superior antioxidant properties allow it to replace synthetic antioxidants like BHT and BHA, offering natural protection against oxidative stress and environmental aggressors.
  • Chemical Sunscreen Agents: Its UV-protective properties make astaxanthin a viable substitute for chemical filters in sunscreens, providing a natural barrier against harmful UV rays without the potential for skin irritation or environmental harm.
  • Artificial Pigments and Dyes: Due to its vibrant red-orange hue, astaxanthin can replace artificial colorants in cosmetics, providing a natural color option that also delivers skincare benefits.

What types of personal care businesses use Astaxanthin?

Astaxanthin's versatile benefits make it an attractive ingredient for a variety of personal care businesses:

  • Skincare Product Manufacturers: Astaxanthin's anti-aging and protective qualities make it a sought-after ingredient for brands specializing in anti-aging and protective skincare products.
  • Sun Care Product Brands: Astaxanthin's natural UV-blocking properties make it a valuable ingredient for companies producing sunscreens and after-sun care products.
  • All-Natural Beauty Brands: With the growing consumer demand for clean, natural, and sustainable products, astaxanthin fits perfectly into the formulations of brands focusing on natural beauty solutions.
  • Cosmeceutical Companies: Due to its clinical benefits on skin health, companies focusing on cosmeceuticals can utilize astaxanthin to develop products that offer both cosmetic and therapeutic benefits, such as serums and creams.
  • Nutricosmetic Manufacturers: Businesses that develop supplements for skin, hair, and nail health can incorporate astaxanthin into their products.
Nutritional Highlights

Each type of seaweed and micro-algae carries its own unique benefits. Below is the top personal care highlight each algae-based ingredient carries.

  • Sea Moss - Moisturizing Effect: Rich in carrageenan, Sea Moss forms a protective, breathable film on the skin, ideal for moisturizers and serums.
  • Kelp - All-around Benefits: Full of polysaccharides and other bioactive compounds, kelp hydrates the skin and protects it from premature aging, inflammation, and UV radiation.
  • Fucoidan - Anti-aging Properties: Clinically proven to reduce wrinkle depth and enhance skin elasticity, fucoidan is a potent ingredient in anti-aging skincare.
  • Astaxanthin - Antioxidant Powerhouse: With superior antioxidant activity, astaxanthin helps protect against UV damage, reduces signs of aging, and improves skin moisture and elasticity.

DISCLAIMER: The bioactivity of seaweed and algae can vary widely based on growing conditions, harvesting time, processing methods, and geographic location. When purchasing seaweed and algae, businesses should have the product tested and verified by a third-party. 

Side-by-Side Comparison
Ingredient name Why we picked it Highlights Best fit for
Sea moss Best Seaweed for Skin Hydration Forms a protective, breathable film on the skin. Product formulations aimed to provide a moisturizing effect.
Kelp Best Seaweed for All-Around Benefits Full of polysaccharides and other bioactive compounds. General skincare products, including hydrating and anti-aging lines.
Fucoidan Best Compound for Anti-aging Properties Reduce wrinkle depth and enhance skin elasticity. Anti-aging skincare products and sunscreens.
Astaxanthin Best Compound for Antioxidants Powerful antioxidant activity. Anti-aging, hydrating, and protective skincare formulations.
Product Examples and Use Cases
Company Product name Type of company Algae used Function of ingredient
Seaflora Sea Kelp Facial Masque Skincare brand Various Hydration, moisture retention, anti-aging.
Seaweed Bath Co. Volumize Shampoo Personal care brand Bladderwrack; Chlorella General hair health.
Macro Oceans Hydrating Marine Polysaccharides Manufacturer Sugar kelp; fucoidan Ingredients for skin hydration and hair care.
Cocokind Sea Moss Exfoliator Personal care brand Sea moss Skin exfoliant.
LilyBee Sea Moss Moisturiser Personal care brand Sea moss Skin hydration.
Gelyma Algae Bioactives and Extracts Manufacturer Various Various; more than 10 products.
Seabody Luminous Prime SPF 30 Skincare brand Fucoidan Skin protection from UV radiation.
Ao Skincare 6000X Elemental Screen Skincare brand Astaxanthin Skin protection and repair.
Marinova Pty Ltd Fucoidan extracts Manufacturer Fucoidan Multipurpose functional ingredient for skin hydration and anti-aging.
Cyanotech Corporation Astaxanthin oleoresins Manufacturer Astaxanthin Ingredient for antioxidants.
Top Trends

Below is a list of personal care trends businesses should pay attention to when thinking about incorporating seaweed and micro-algae into their products and overall product development strategies.

Multifunctional Products

There is a demand for products that offer multiple benefits, reducing the need for consumers to buy multiple products. This trend is fueled by consumers seeking both efficacy and value. Seaweed and micro-algae align well with this trend as they can serve multiple purposes in a product. Its diverse benefits can include items like hydration, anti-aging, and detoxification.

Consumers want transparency when it comes to what is in their products

As consumers become more conscious about the origins of their products, there's a growing demand for manufacturing and supply chain transparency for the products they consume. They want to know what ingredients are in the products they buy and use, where they come from, and who is involved in making them. Further, brands are now expected to clearly communicate the benefits and composition of their products, moving away from vague or misleading claims. Seaweed and algae play well into this trend as the supply chains are just forming allowing for businesses to demand transparency when purchasing.

The Rise of Anti-Aging Products

The anti-aging segment is experiencing a surge, driven by consumers' growing interest in maintaining youthful, healthy skin. Seaweed and algae ingredients offer anti-aging properties as they are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that help combat the visible signs of aging. Products incorporating seaweed and algae can offer benefits like wrinkle reduction, improved skin elasticity, and enhanced hydration.

Consumers want products that improve both human and planetary health, but will not compromise on quality or functionality

Consumers are increasingly looking for products and companies that are dedicated to improving human and planetary health. Seaweed and algae are perfect candidates for this trend due to the functional benefits and low environmental impact of production. While consumers are getting serious about this point, they are not willing to compromise on the overall quality or functionality of the product. Businesses will only see success using seaweed and algae as an ingredient if the product has proven health benefits and stands out from the competition.

The “Clean Beauty” Movement 

Consumers now expect personal care products to be "clean," encompassing qualities like organic, vegan, all-natural, and recycled packaging. This trend also extends to corporate responsibility, such as cruelty-free product testing and more equitable supply chains. Seaweed and algae align with this "clean" beauty movement as they can replace chemical or petroleum-based ingredients. These marine ingredients are often used in vegan formulations for consumers looking for animal-free products.

Birth of the Values-based Consumer  

With endless options on the market for nearly everything, consumers are looking to buy products from companies that match their personal values. This trend of, “values-based consumerism” means people are choosing to buy things that reflect what they believe in and care about. One of those values that the majority of consumers care about is supporting local economies. Seaweed and algae are a perfect fit for this trend as businesses that purchase these ingredients have a direct effect on the farmers, their families, and local communities where it is grown.

Men’s Personal Care

The personal care market for men is rapidly expanding, reflecting a significant shift in attitudes towards male grooming and self-care. Men are now seeking products that cater specifically to their needs. This has expanded beyond basic hygiene to include skincare, haircare, and anti-aging. Seaweed and algae's natural properties offer a range of benefits ideally suited for men’s skin and hair care. These ingredients can help address common male skin concerns such as roughness, inflammation from shaving, and signs of aging. Additionally, seaweed and algae's hydrating and detoxifying properties make them an interesting ingredient for hair care products. By incorporating these marine ingredients into men's personal care products, product developers can create natural, multifunctional grooming essentials.


Q: Is seaweed the same as algae?

There are two general categories of algae - macro-algae and micro-algae. Macro-algae is commonly known as seaweed and predominantly grows in the ocean. Micro-algae is a unicellular organism and grows in both freshwater and the ocean. Both seaweed and micro-algae can be grown wild, through outdoor cultivation, or by  controlled indoor agricultural methods using bioreactors.

There are more than 72,000 different species of algae, but less than 20 are commonly used as ingredients in everyday products.

Q: What are the benefits of using seaweed and algae in personal care products?

Incorporating seaweed and algae into personal care products offers a broad spectrum of benefits due to their rich content of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other natural compounds. These natural ingredients are highly effective in hydrating and nourishing the skin, making them excellent for combating dryness and enhancing skin elasticity. Their anti-inflammatory properties help in soothing irritated or sensitive skin, while their antimicrobial qualities make them beneficial in addressing skin issues like acne. In haircare, some seaweed ingredients can strengthen hair follicles, promote scalp health, and add shine, thereby improving overall hair texture and appearance.

Q: How do seaweed and algae interact with other common ingredients in personal care formulations?

They are generally compatible with most personal care ingredients, but stability and compatibility tests are required to ensure they don't react adversely with other components in your product, especially preservatives or active ingredients.

Q: Are there any known allergens in seaweed and algae that I should be aware of?

While seaweed and algae are generally safe, some individuals may have allergies or sensitivities to these ingredients. It’s important to label products accordingly for sensitive skin types.

Q: Can seaweed and algae ingredients impact the color or scent of the final product?

Yes, they can impart a natural color or a slight marine scent to the product. It's important to consider these characteristics in your product development and marketing strategy.

Q: What are the cost implications of using seaweed and algae in personal care products?

The cost can vary based on the type and quality of the ingredient. While some forms may be more expensive, their benefits can justify the cost of premium products.

Q: What product formats are seaweed and algae available in?

They come in a variety of formats. Fresh, frozen, dried, powdered, flakes, or flakes. There are also a variety of extracts in both liquid and powdered form that are available. Most seaweed and algae ingredients used in personal care products come in the form of extracts.  Your target application and functional profile will be the driving force on what format to purchase.

Q: Is seasonality a concern when sourcing these ingredients?

It depends. For seaweed that is grown in the ocean, there are specific growing and harvesting seasons that vary by type of seaweed and region of the world. Availability can vary with the seasons. Many suppliers might have storage facilities that allow them to offer products year-round. There are many types of algae that are grown in indoor controlled settings and are harvested year-round.

Q: What questions should I ask suppliers to ensure a consistent and reliable supply chain for seaweed and algae as ingredients?

Inquire about their harvesting or cultivation cycles, production capacities, backup sourcing strategies, and how they handle demand surges. You should also require heavy metal and bioactivity testing and a certificate of analysis to be completed by a 3rd party. This will give you an idea of their reliability.

Q: Can suppliers typically provide samples for R&D and initial product testing?

Most established suppliers will be able to provide small samples for testing purposes. It’s crucial to conduct preliminary tests with these samples to ensure the ingredient aligns with the product's development goals.

Q: Where can I procure reliable algae and seaweed for my business?

There is a lack of standards and guidelines when it comes to procuring and using algae as a personal care ingredient. As a result of this and the variability in quality that exists, we recommend either: 1) Work directly with a seaweed/algae farmer or processor with deep knowledge of their products; or 2) Work with a strategic sourcing specialist with experience in algae. They can help save you a tremendous amount of time, ensure product quality, and help you navigate the waters in this emerging industry.

Q: What other types of algae can be used as personal care ingredients?

In addition to the ingredients listed in this guide, there is a wide array of other seaweed and algae species that serve as valuable personal care ingredients. These include different brown and red seaweeds, each offering unique properties beneficial for skin and hair care products.

B2B Procurement Tips

Be clear on the end application

There are no set industry standards or guidelines that have been established when sourcing algae and seaweed. As each species of algae and seaweed carry different properties and tastes, it is important for businesses to have a good idea of the end application and properties they are seeking. This will determine the best type of algae and format for any specific use case.

Take time to really understand your supply chain

It is critical for businesses to take time to understand the supply chain when making a purchasing decision. Algae and seaweed have high variability when it comes to nutritional content and potential contaminants.  It is important that when sourcing algae and seaweed that you can confirm nutritional content and that the supplier has the product tested for certain metals and contaminants by a verifiable 3rd party. It is also important to understand the cultivation method as it will help you determine what factors to take into account when purchasing. Algae and seaweed can be cultivated offshore or on-land, as well as through indoor controlled environments.

Build trust and transparency into your supply chains

There are endless supplement options on the market today. A quick search on Google or Amazon will have you feeling overwhelmed. Many commercially-available supplement options contain low quality ingredients, unclear formulations, and no transparency around their supply chains. The supplement craze has turned more into a game of marketing vs being serious about improving human health and performance.  If you dive deeper into the industry, the most successful supplements companies take the time upfront to research and source the highest quality ingredients and refine their formulations based on intended outcomes they are seeking. They also build trust with their customers on being more transparent around their ingredients, supply chain, and production process.

Build quality control into your contract

When issuing a purchase order or a longer-term supply contract, make sure to outline specific conditions and requirements around nutrition and product safety. This will ensure the supplier is meeting your quality standards before accepting the product.

Focus on recurring orders vs spot purchases

Due to market fluctuations and seasonality of growing seasons for many types of algae and seaweeds, it is much better to set up longer-term supply contracts well ahead of time with suppliers. It will allow you to establish a consistent price and build a more robust supply chain. It will also allow the supplier to plan ahead and invest in their own growth so they can bring costs down.  

Diversify the supplier base

If your business is just starting to purchase algae and seaweed, it is recommended to working with 3-4 suppliers to find the best fit. There are farmers and processors that have different goals on what customers they are set up to serve and growth they want to achieve. You want to find the options that are the best fit for your broader strategic goals. Lastly, by diversifying the supplier base upfront, it allows businesses to create resiliency in their supply chains.

Use a third party escrow service

When purchasing algae and seaweed, it is recommended that buyers use a 3rd party escrow service, especially when sourcing internationally. This is often something many folks overlook, but due to the variability of quality, using a third party escrow service allows the buyer to protect money and ensure the product meets their standards.

If you are looking for more information on sourcing or procuring algae and seaweed, feel free to contact Cultured Supply to talk with a procurement specialist to gain access to our network of dependable suppliers.

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