Legend has it that Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, was born from the foam of the sea.
It seems the ancient Greeks were on to something. The ocean has long been a source of beauty ingredients that take aim at aging's effects, from soothing seaweed to exfoliating sea salt. Now salmon spawning water and jellyfish are being touted as the next big thing. Here, we dive into the new wave of beauty products incorporating marine ingredients.
FOR THE RECORD:
Skin-care products: An article in the July 20 Image section about skin-care products from the world's waters listed an incorrect price and website for Organi Deep Wrinkle Remover. The product is $335, not $35, and can be found at www.organi.com.au. Also, an earlier version of this post misspelled Patricia Pao's last name as Pau.—
What it is: During a 1988 expedition to King George Island in Antarctica, a Spanish exploration team discovered this new marine bacterial strain in mud samples. During growth, the bacteria produced glycoproteins (known as Antarcticine or Pseudoalteromonas Ferment Extract) that effectively retained water, adhered to surfaces and withstood extreme cold.
Skin fix: Recently, skin care companies began formulating with Antarcticine and claim that it helps protect skin from the cold, stimulates collagen growth, speeds up the healing of wounds, hydrates skin and diminishes wrinkles.
Is it likely to work? “Antarcticine shows some promise,” says Los Angeles dermatologist Dr Jessica Wu, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the USC School of Medicine. She adds that though lab studies showed increases in collagen and elastin tissue production in skin cells, she’d like to see more effective clinical studies before giving it her stamp of approval.
Salmon hatching water
What it is: In 2010, beauty insider Patricia Pao toured a salmon hatchery in Norway. That’s when she noticed that the workers’ hands looked far younger than their faces. After investigating, she discovered the hatching fluid of the baby salmon contained an enzyme that offered the same exfoliating properties as glycolic acid without the side effects, and isolated the enzyme into a patented complex called Aquabeautine XL. The enzyme is collected from post-hatching waters of salmon. No fish are harmed in the process.
Skin fix: Hydrates, improves skin's radiance, elasticity and smoothness and reduces the appearance of fine lines and age spots.
Is it likely to work? “This multifunctional ingredient is said to perfect the skin, decrease the signs of aging and has the same effects as a mild enzymatic alternative to AHA or glycolic acid…[it] offers great anti-aging properties,” says New York-based dermatologist Dr. Marina Peredo.
What it is: With more than 300,000 identified species, algae continues to provide new opportunities for skin care formulations. Many top dermatologists agree that seaweed is an extremely effective skincare ingredient, full of antioxidants, minerals and amino acids. “Algae works as a purifier, like the lymphatic system of the sea,” says Jenefer Palmer, founder of Osea Malibu, which makes organic skin care products. She uses Undaria seaweed from Patagonia in her products to deliver antioxidants and repair environmentally damaged skin.
Skin fix: These nutrient-rich ingredients soothe and firm skin, improve texture, reduce fine lines, stimulate collagen and accelerate wound healing.
Is it likely to work? “Undaria do help improve the condition of extracellular matrix, collagen and elastin and hold moisture in the skin to keep it plump and hydrated,” says Peredo.
What it is: Sea whip coral, also known as sea fans, is said to have potent, natural, anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties. The extract derived from the coral stays stable when combined with benzoyl peroxide, giving it an interesting edge in fighting acne-causing bacteria while also soothing skin. It’s derived from four different coral fields in the Caribbean; each field is harvested at different times to support regrowth and ensure sustainability.
Skin fix: Used to help diminish redness, irritation and inflammation.
Is it likely to work: Though some studies have shown anti-inflammatory effects in vitro, Wu says she hasn’t seen any human clinical trials to support the claim, adding: “Any benefit to acne would be from the benzoyl peroxide.”
What is it: The next big trend might come from a worldwide nuisance — the immortal jellyfish. “This species of jellyfish has a potentially infinite life span because it appears to actually age in reverse,” says Janel Luu, chief executive officer of Le Mieux Cosmetics. Overabundance of jellyfish has become a real issue, wiping out salmon colonies in Northern Ireland, for example.
Skin fix: Korean scientists are working on extracting collagen from jellyfish to use to improve skin's firmness and diminish fine lines.
Is it likely to work? Dr. Nathan Newman, a Los Angeles-based cosmetic surgeon, is skeptical. “No one has been able to find a specific compound or chemical from this jellyfish to be used to do similar actions in humans,” he says. And “collagen is too big to penetrate the skin topically and therefore, it will have little effect on rejuvenating the skin.”
Try it yourself: You'll have to wait. This one is still in the test tube phase, as scientists are still trying to learn from this unusual creature and unlock the key to reversing the effects of aging.