London in Green

Time to Explore Algal Bioactives

October 10th, 2013
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Cathy BoyleAnalyst Insight by Cathy Boyle – Contributing Analyst

Algal ingredients appear in a wide range of different products and
brands in the personal care market and wear very different guises in
each area. For example, mainstream brands often use a basic seaweed
extract simply as a way to add a more natural feel to their products,
while natural personal care brands use seaweed extracts as active
ingredients and make specific claims regarding their role. More
recently, however, algal ingredients have taken a further step forward
and new ingredients sourced from microalgae have started to feature in
more advanced skin care brands as anti-ageing components. This exciting
development is explored in more detail in Algal Ingredients: A More Sustainable Solution?

Algae’s self-protection mechanisms are of interest in skin care

As in the food industry, algal ingredients are yet to be exploited to
any significant degree in personal care, although this is starting to
change as the potential is more widely recognised. Certainly, the scope
for development of algal ingredients for personal care applications is
vast, with many algal species remaining entirely untapped. Yet it would
appear from recent R&D that algae are ideal raw materials for skin
care products, thanks largely to the protective cells that they use to
shield themselves from the harmful effects of the sun.

There has been a steady trickle of new algal ingredients onto the
market over the past 5-10 years and anti-ageing has been a core focus
for many of these. In 2011, for example, Solazyme launched its own
Algenist range of skin care products using alguronic acid, a protective
algal oil that it has identified. Similarly, Frutarom launched the
Alguard ingredient, which is described as a skin active shield and is
derived from the protective polysaccharide emitted from the cells of the
red microalgae Porphyridium sp. In 2012, Evonik also entered the market
for algal skin benefit agents with its Tego Stemlastin ingredient
derived from the red microalgae Cyanidium caldarium (often found in acid
hot springs), which is said to improve skin elasticity.

More to offer beyond skin care

More recent NPD in algal bioactives, however, suggests that
ingredients developers are broadening their horizons and are no longer
limited to the anti-ageing market alone. For example, in 2012 and 2013,
new algal ingredients have been added in the hair care arena, including
Provital Group’s Keramare, derived from Cystoseira compressa brown
seaweed and said to strengthen and repair hair from the inside out, plus
Symrise’s SymHair, which is derived from microalgae and aimed at the
prevention of hair loss. At the same time, Symrise also launched
SymBronze, a pigmentation enhancer from microalgae to induce sunless
tanning and accelerate a tan.

Bioactives with specific benefits are very much in demand throughout
the personal care market as the industry looks towards natural resources
for a more sustainable future. Algaculture can offer significant
sustainability benefits assuming it is controlled so as not to impact on
marine environments and eco-systems. Microalgae, in particular, can be
grown in arid areas otherwise unsuitable for agriculture, while they
feed only on sunlight and waste carbon dioxide, thus delivering carbon
neutral or even carbon negative profiles. Algaculture also uses less
land area for greater yields so it offers multiple advantages compared
with many other botanical sources. Although the industry remains
underdeveloped and extraction of active ingredients can be costly,
algaculture must be considered in future R&D strategies within
personal care and is an area that is more than ready for further

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