Seaweed’S Skin-Saving Secrets

Seaweed. It's a spa-treatment staple, showing up in wraps, baths, masks and just about everything that can be applied to the skin. But what benefits does seaweed really provide? Known for healing and restorative properties, sea-derived elements like algae (seaweed), salt and mud have long been celebrated for their beautifying capabilities. Use of these seawater elements in cosmetic and wellness treatments is referred to as thalassotherapy.

“Thalasso is derived from the Greek word ocean, and therapy means to treat. So you're treating with the elements of the ocean,” explains Anne Bramham, leading spa industry educator and founder of the American Spa Therapy Education & Certification Council. “Whether you go on the aesthetic component or the healing component, you can find what you're looking for.”

Why you need it: Skin that lacks essential vitamins and minerals can become poor in texture, dry and less elastic. According to Bramham, the benefits of marine elements are beneficial for all skin types from acne-prone to mature aging-skin. “It's also great for wound healing, metabolism and circulation,” she adds. “Similar to aromatherapy, there's a passage of the nutrients through the skin into the tissue, so it's not just going on the skin to tone the skin, it's actually going into the tissues to hydrate and nourish the cells of the body.”

Where to find it: Kelp, algae and other types of sea plants are packed with trace elements like zinc, magnesium, amino acids, antioxidants and vitamins that restore radiance by supplying the skin with nutrients it may be lacking, penetrating to jumpstart collagen production and encourage cellular turnover.

What to look for: Bramham suggests looking for products that are as close to the natural product as possible. “You want a good-grade algae, but not mixed with loads of chemicals.” For different responses, seek different colored algae. “It depends on where the seaweed is grown, whether it's from the depths of the ocean or whether it's from a little higher up as to what the nutrients are, and then what nutrients we would be targeting for a specific result.”

The Organic Pharmacy offers up a fantastic line of seaweed-infused spa products, and one we're sweet on is the Seaweed, Lemon & Eucalyptus Body Scrub ($70).