If you are anything like me, summer holidays by the beach are a MUST to keep stress levels at bay and for me the most noticeable thing after a week in the sun and surf is how wonderfully fresh my skin feels. If I get too much sun, then, of course, it doesn't feel great, but in general, I find my skin to be smoother, brighter, clearer and might I add plumper. Having grown up on the Australia coastline, I had always been told how amazing seawater is for skin and general health. If you had an eye infection, off to the beach we went. If there we skin problems, off to the beach we went. I was always curious if it was the seawater itself, the salt levels, the air, and sun or all of them put together that provided a cure-all for anything skin related. I was intrigued but not sure, so before I started adding anything marine to my skincare routine I wanted a little more knowledge to back up my general understanding.
There is a lot about skin aging in the public domain, people mostly talk about wrinkles, fine lines, sun spots but these are the symptoms of aging, not the cause. Fundamentally, the lack of tone and sagging that starts to appear is directly to do with the strength of the fibrous network in the dermal layer, specifically the collagen network. If you are not familiar with the structure of our skin, pop over to read our blog post titled Why is my Skin so Dry?!
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body and exists in all connective tissues, bones, muscles, skin. Essentially it provides a sort of scaffolding network to hold everything together, providing plump and smooth looking skin. It is synthesized by our fibroblast cells then pushed outside the cell to form collagen fibrils. Ok, so it is a little more complicated than this but the science is not exciting reading so I’m keeping it simpler for easier reading. One important thing to note about the production of collagen though, it doesn’t work so well if you are low on Vitamin C. Juicing one large orange in the morning for breakfast will give you about 90% of your RDV. And no, bottled orange juice doesn’t count.
From a skincare point of view, the rate of collagen production slows down the longer we are on the earth but when and how fast this slow down occurs varies considerably depending on the environment. Things such as heavy pollution, internal toxins and ultraviolet radiation (yep pesky sun), all contribute to a gradual slowdown (and eventually shut down) of collagen synthesis by increasing what are known as ROS. Reactive oxygen species. ROS’s are a natural by-product of oxygen metabolism and perfectly normal until the body is at the receiving end of environmental stress (internal or external), causing a rapid increase in levels. In skin, increased levels of ROS’s are believed to have deleterious effects on proteins, and since collagen is our main protein it means this is where the aging process begins.
This entire process is referred to as oxidative stress and so gives us a better understanding of the popular term ‘anti-oxidant’. If you are exposed to heavy pollution, drink a lot of alcohol, eat a lot of refined sugar or spend more time that you should in the sun or (eek) are a slave to a sun-bed, it is likely that your ROS’s will be elevated, your oxidative stress more active and the end result is a weakened lipid barrier along with other structures such as collagen and elastin. The more exposure, the faster the weakening. So introducing some sort of anti-oxidant to keep these little ROS critters at bay is a good approach.
Clearly, however, the best approach is prevention. But we are human so unless you plan to stay inside a climate-controlled bubble, exposure to UV light and other toxins is inevitable. It’s for this reason we look for skincare ingredients that help guard against this oxidative action and support the strengthening or regeneration of collagen for future-proofing against early signs of aging.
This is where marine extracts become interesting because they contain bio-compounds not found in terrestrial plants and studies show for this reason they are very efficient at offering anti-oxidative action. It’s believed that because of the exposure to often aggressive conditions, marine or micro-algae produce more biologically active compounds that other sources as a coping mechanism.
Micro-algae proteins, although different from species to species, act as water-binding and restructuring agents while also offering anti-oxidative action. It is also rich in long-chain fatty acids, omega-3 (a triglyceride) and liposoluble vitamins A, D, E and K, phospholipids, glycolipids, sterols and carotenoids which are contributors in protecting the skin against aging including the breakdown of dermal networks and the lipid barrier. Surprising is the presence of carbohydrates, which are actually very useful for the skin because of their ability to attract, absorb and keep moisture in.
Long story short, marine algae has special abilities to slowdown photo-aging and repair lipid barrier weakening.
"Human skin exposed to solar UV radiation and pollution dramatically increases ROS production and oxidative stress, inducing a cascade of events that involve a variety of cell/molecular signaling pathways. The oxidative stress effects on skin aging induce damage to DNA, reduce the production of antioxidants, and activation/inhibition of various signaling factors that ultimately lead to the production of MMPs that degrade collagen and elastin in the dermal skin layer........ In fact, algae are rich sources of biologically active metabolites such as polysaccharides, carotenoids, phlorotannins present in green, red, brown algae, or in microalgae, and represent attractive source to fight against the skin aging process. They have the potential to decrease oxidative stress and increase skin cellular longevity in human skin."
Jean-Yves Berthon, Rachida Nachat-Kappes, Mathieu Bey, Jean-Paul Cadoret, Isabelle Renimel & Edith Filaire (2017) Marine algae as attractive source to skin care, Free Radical Research, 51:6, 555-567, DOI: 10.1080/10715762.2017.1355550
There has been a lot of research into the blue-green world of microalgae, and results are quite positive. So my granny’s assurances ‘get in the sea it’s good for your skin’ aren’t just an old wives tale after all. Science proves marine extracts to be wonderfully effective at helping keep our skin healthy and hydrated so it was a no-brainer to make it the central focus of my daily serum.
To see for yourself, I encourage you whole-heartedly to visit our website and read the reviews so far. There only a few but it's early days and I'm confident of more to come.
But for now, we thank you so much for choosing to join us here in Glow Blog land and look forward to I next week’s post. Drop us a comment below, thumbs up or share so we know you value our contribution to your day.
Love, light & glow
Nadeen and the Glow Team.