Summer is almost here, which means it’ll soon be time to hit the beach. And although few things top a cooling dip on a sweltering day, your clients don’t have to wait for warmer weather to harness the sea’s healing powers. Marine ingredients, such as algae, seaweed, and more, play a key role in detoxifying, replenishing, firming, and soothing the skin. It’s really no surprise that several skincare lines, such as Osea, Phytomer, and Repêchage to name just a few, are based on marine ingredients, while others feature specific sea-based products. By offering treatments—from baths and scrubs to wraps and facials—that incorporate these marine-based elements, you can take advantage of their skin-saving benefits. When the time does come, your clients will be looking (and feeling) more beach-ready than ever.
It was her grandmother’s knowledge of natural healing and faith in the power of the sea that set the stage for Jenefer Palmer, chief seaweed officer of Osea, to create the marine-based line. A fresh algae bath in Buenos Aires and the way it made her feel inspired her to track the algae back to its source along the desolate beaches and pristine coastal waters of Patagonia. “Aside from producing an estimated 70 percent of the oxygen in our atmosphere, marine algae offers us unmatched skincare benefits,” says Palmer. “Seaweed alginate, or gel, has been used to treat burns and skin maladies for centuries. In addition to soothing, hydrating, and mineralizing the skin, certain types of seaweed, including gigartina and undaria algae that Osea uses in its formulations, have anti-aging benefits, such as boosting the skin’s collagen production.”
Another longtime proponent of the healing powers of marine ingredients, Lydia Sarfati founded the marine-based skincare line Repêchage after witnessing seaweed’s use in agricultural methods in Israel in 1977. “People were using seaweed as a biostimulant for plants, because nutrients that are in seaweed are nonexistent in the terrestrial environment,” she says. “I thought, ‘If it can stimulate plant growth and yield a greater production of fruits and vegetables, what could it do for our skin?’”
Plenty, according to seaweed enthusiast Charles Yarish, Ph.D., a department of ecology and evolutionary biology professor at the University of Connecticut and a member of Repêchage’s board of directors. Yarish explains that seaweeds contain antioxidants, anti-tumor compounds, and biochemicals called phycocolloids, which can help the skin retain moisture. “Certain seaweeds are rich in natural phyto-hormones,” he says. “Vitamins, trace elements, amino acids, and micronutrients are also found in seaweeds and are known to improve the health of animals and plants. Many brown and red seaweeds contain glycolipids and phospholipids that are important in membrane repair.” Those powerful properties helped form the foundation of several skincare lines, including Repêchage. “I knew that seaweed facilitated the richest and most efficient source of skin benefits available on the planet,” says Sarfati. “It was natural, sustainable, and had the greatest bio-affinity to our own skin.” Chances are, for any skin-related struggle your clients face, there is a marine-based product with a solution.
Marine ingredients have long been recognized for their detoxifying benefits. At Ocean Pearl Spa at the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa (CA), the Marine Mud Wrap ($185, 80 minutes) features a dry-brush exfoliation to stimulate lymph movement, a marine-rich clay and full-body wrap to intensify the detoxification process, and a scalp massage. According to spa director Kerri Migneault, the clay is a customized mix of algae and sea minerals.
Because of sea-sourced ingredients’ similarity to the body’s chemical composition, their nutrients are readily absorbed through the skin. At The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, the Detoxifying Beyond the Skin (starting at $160, 50 minutes) treatment was designed to replenish important minerals with an algae mineral wrap incorporating Amala’s Spirulina Powder and Detoxifying Body Butter. “Spirulina is really rich in vitamins B and E, chlorophyll, manganese, and selenium,” says spa director Niki Katsadas. The wrap replenishes those nutrients to the body while hydrating and toning the skin. The spa’s Signature Crystal Clear Scrub (starting at $195, 50 minutes) uses mineral-rich sea salt to boost clients’ iodine and magnesium intake, which is optimized with a pre-treatment exfoliation and techniques that stimulate circulation.
Thanks to their detoxifying benefits, marine-based ingredients are also great for battling the bulge. Seaweed-based Phytomer products star in the Atlantic Detox Body Envelopment ($145, 50 minutes) and Replenishing Sargasso Seaweed Experience ($185, 80 minutes) at Si Spas, which are located at the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa and the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa (FL). “We use seaweed as a contouring marine body mask,” says spa director Pat Dutcher. “It’s detoxifying, and it gives the skin a really smooth texture.”
Druellen Kosti, spa director of Evensong Spa at Heidel House Resort (Green Lake, WI), says her clients also appreciate seaweed’s cellulite-fighting ability and have made the spa’s Seaweed Gel Application ($15) its most requested add-on. “Seaweed contains a number of active ingredients responsible for slimming and the evacuation of lymph,” says Kosti, explaining that one of those active ingredients, iodine, is responsible for boosting the metabolism of fats and regulating estrogen levels.
Turning Back the Clock
Apart from combating cellulite, algae and seaweed also yield a firming, youthful effect. As a result, nourishing marine facials are sure to make a splash on your spa’s menu. Clients of Spalon Montage (multiple locations in MN) can experience the firming benefits of marine sugars with the Phytomer XMF Facial ($175, 90 minutes). “The facial incorporates innovative products and offers the client pioneered ingredients derived from marine biotechnology, a technique that uses marine microorganisms to create active ingredients without the addition of chemicals or additives,” says master esthetician Sabrina Ehlis. Among those pioneered ingredients is Extra Marine Filler (XMF), which is a high-tech marine sugar with exceptional smoothing and densifying properties. According to her, it creates an invisible film on the face to diminish the depth of lines within one hour and, after continued use, increases the fibroblast cells, which are responsible for the production of collagen and elastin.
After too much fun in the sun, the Osea Sea of Life ($175, 50 minutes) marine facial at The Spa at Bacara (Santa Barbara, CA) oxygenates skin, refines pores, and helps heal sun-damaged skin with an infusion of repairing antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, organic seaweed extracts, and vitamin C. The spa’s signature facial, the Bacara Seacreation ($315, 80 minutes), relies on Babor’s SeaCreation line, which uses precious extracts of exclusive microorganisms found in the depths of the sea. According to Victoria Boscarino, corporate spa director of the Meritage Collection, including The Spa at Bacara, the facial involves a highly concentrated serum that is applied using a tiger conch shell and an exclusive cream filled with green caviar algae that is massaged into the skin with obsidian and cool coral stones. “While most creams hydrate the superficial layer of the skin, this treatment’s highly effective ingredients are easily absorbed, leaving skin saturated with radiance and youthfulness,” she says.
Marine-based facials are certainly a source of hydration. Hyaluronic acid, which is produced naturally by the body, is often credited with plumping the skin and helping it to look younger. As people age, the body produces less of it. Fortunately, there are other sources, such as that derived from marine algae, which can be found in Ilike Organic Skin Care’s Hyaluronic Time Erase Complex line. “This plant-based hyaluronic acid is a certified organic ingredient, one of the latest and best biochemical inventions, as it provides wonderful moisturizing effects on the skin by plumping the skin from the inside out,” says Szilvia Hickman, senior vice president of Szép Élet.
For all it does to naturally recharge and restore the skin, seaweed is extremely gentle. “Active phytonutrients in marine-based botanicals are especially beneficial to sensitive skin,” says Michael Bruggeman, founder and CEO of Organic Male OM4. The company’s four-step Sensitive Skin System, which is used in the Signature Men’s Facial ($175, 50 minutes), features a key active botanical blend made up of chamomile, dulse, green tea, Irish moss, kelp, spirulina, and the Ocean Mineral Complex, which is a proprietary blend of more than 92 ionic sea minerals suspended in bioavailable ocean water. According to Bruggeman, the ocean-derived ingredients help address dermatitis, eczema, rosacea, and other sensitive skin concerns.
Providing Sun Protection
Perhaps the most critical benefit of marine ingredients—providing sun protection—hasn’t even been fully realized yet. However, its potential is impossible to ignore. “In terms of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines, seaweeds can’t be claimed to offer sun protection,” says Seaflora’s Diane Bernard, an environmentalist and seaweed expert known as The Seaweed Lady. “However, ongoing studies are investigating the natural organic properties of seaweed that do contain UV protection. Even after being exposed to the sun and drying out, seaweeds still manage to maintain their health benefits.”
Yarish says the protective potential of seaweeds is thanks to their naturally occurring carotenoids, such as UVB-fighting antioxidants, including astaxanthin, found in chlorella and spirulina. Seaweeds also contain carotenes, which give fruits and vegetables their pigments. The pigments can be used as sunscreen by the plants and to activate melanin. “Other red seaweeds contain a unique class of mycosporine-like amino acids that can prevent skin damage caused by ultraviolet rays,” he says.
Not only can marine ingredients protect spa-goers from the sun, but they can also offer some degree of relief after over exposure. While the Si-tonic Wrap ($145, 50 minutes) at Si Spas provides firming and toning results through its use of marine sugars, it has added benefits for sun worshippers. “It takes the heat out of a sunburn,” says Dutcher.
Causes for Concern
For all that marine products do to preserve, replenish, and protect the skin, savvy spa-goers might still have some concerns regarding mercury and lead content found in the ocean and questions about the purity of marine-based products. According to Yarish, while pollutants are a serious concern, regulations are in place to keep the level of harmful substances in products safe. Despite harvesters’ inability to control the marine environment and growing conditions, marine-based products can still be certified organic by the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA). “In the 1970s, mercury was added as an ingredient in creams to retard the growth of fungi and prevent product decay,” says Yarish. “Now, there is a much better understanding that mercury can cause neurological damage, hair loss, and skin damage. The FDA regulates products that come into contact with humans and bans any products higher than 1ppm (part per million), and in France, 0.1ppm. All of this has grown out of the literature showing mercury’s ill effects on humans.”
Bernard echoes the notion that pollutants are a worthwhile concern and stresses the importance of considering seaweeds’ environment during the harvesting process. “Seaweed is wonderful and hugely powerful in terms of accessing minerals and vitamins, polysaccharides, and all kinds of benefits from the ocean,” she says. “However, it does not discriminate between the good, the bad, and the ugly. Polluted waters mean higher levels of arsenic and lead. Seaweeds are an excellent barometer of the health and wellness of any coastline.” That’s why it’s important to note where the seaweed used in spa products grows.
Additionally, when it comes to choosing finished products, Bernard recommends checking the product label to see where seaweed falls on the ingredient list. “If it’s not in the top three ingredients, then it’s really not worth being in the product,” says Bernard. “It’s just being used for marketing purposes rather than having a meaningful, principal place in the product. You also want to take a look at whether it says seaweed extract or if it’s actually a bona fide seaweed.”
You also want to keep in mind that some treatments may have a strong seaweed smell that may not necessarily appeal to all clients. And, as Migneault points out, those with a sensitivity or allergy to shellfish or other types of seafood may want to steer clear of products and treatments that incorporate marine ingredients. For others though, the ocean can be a source of healing. With a virtual sea of spa products from which to choose, the case for going aquatic is strong. “Life originated from the sea,” says Lauren Streeter, director of education for Repêchage. “If you’re looking to bring youth and life back to your clients’ skin from head to toe, then why not go to the source? All of our skin concerns, from cellulite to acne and hyperpigmentation, and even aging, can be treated with the marvels of the sea.”—Lindsay Lambert Day
The benefits of these marine-infused products will encourage clients to dive into seaworthy skincare.—Julie Keller-Callaghan
1. Babor SeaCreation The Cream: This rich anti-aging cream is infused with the Sea-telligent Complex, a proprietary blend made with green caviar algae extract and thermophilus, an active ingredient found in the depths of the Pacific. www.babor.com
2. Bon Vital’ Naturalé Massage Products: The key ingredients in this moisturizing line include botanical Japanese green tea extract, safflower oil, and botanical sea algae extract. www.bonvital.com
3. FarmHouse Fresh Crow Catcher: Crow’s feet, dark circles, and puffiness are treated with this powerful serum containing skin-smoothing algae extracts, omega 3- and 6-infused seaweed extract, and more. www.farmhousefreshgoods.com
4. Ilike Organic Skin Care Nettle and Algae Treatment: Skin is hydrated, regenerated, and detoxified with this stimulating treatment featuring green algae, minerals, nettle, paprika, phyto-estrogens, and vitamins. www.szepelet.com
5. Jurlique Purely Bright Eye Correcting Cream: This brightening eye cream features biologically active marine botanical extracts that are known to be effective at targeting dark circles and strengthening the fragile skin around the eyes. www.jurlique.com
6. Osmosis Pür Medical Skincare Replenish Antioxidant Repair Serum: Using a liposomal delivery system, this serum infuses skin with ingredients like algae extract to support and simulate collagen and elastin production. www.osmosisskincare.com
7. Repêchage C-Serum Seaweed Filtrate: A highly concentrated seaweed extract rich in amino acids, minerals, trace elements, and vitamins, C-Serum helps to hydrate and restore overall skin vitality. www.repechage.com
8. Rhonda Allison Cosmeceuticals Sea Gems: This complex blends apple stem cell cultures and oceanic ingredients for the ultimate in age reversal, antioxidant delivery, and skin nourishment. www.rhondaallison.com
9. Saian Pure Collagen Elastin: Marine collagen and elastin enhance moisture levels, hydrate, improve capillary function, and help recover loss of firmness and elasticity. saian.net
10. Satin Smooth Ultimate Face Lift Collagen Mask: This mask features exfoliating and hydrating milk and honey, as well as aloe, marine-based collagen, and natural plant ingredients. www.satinsmooth.com
11. Sothys Paris Soothing SOS Serum: Brown algae extract helps limit the inflammatory reaction for sensitive skin in this serum designed to immediately soothe and balance the skin. www.sothys-usa.com
12. Timeless By Pevonia Age-Defying Collagen Ampoule Treatment: A blend of caviar, marine collagen, and select anti-aging extracts help to smooth wrinkles, hydrate, and rejuvenate the skin. www.timelessbypevonia.com