The Beauty Elixir from the Sea
Aphrodite, born of the sea, owes her beauty to seaweeds. Should you add this abundant sea vegetable to your beauty routine?
Seaweeds, although referred to as 'weeds' are actually sea vegetables rich in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and other compounds that benefit our physical health-inside and out. Throughout history, and in cultures around the world, seaweeds have been used as food, medicine, and in cosmetic and body treatments.
According to naturopath Linda Rector-Page, author of the twenty-year-old reference book Healthy Healing, sea greens are some of the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet. In addition to their detoxifying attributes, seaweeds have important antioxidant and cell protective qualities; they can also strengthen bones, support weight management, deter cellulite build-up, soften the skin, help heal scars, and promote thyroid health and balance.
Research studies utilizing different types of seaweed suggest that these vegetables may be significant contributors to lower breast cancer rates among Asian women. Eating seaweeds has also been shown to regulate menstrual cycles, protect against viral infections, and provide a source of antioxidants. Seaweeds are shown to have anti-cancer properties and the gel made from kelp has even been shown to have soothing, anti-ulcer effects and heal damaged skin. Seaweeds are rich in vitamins A, C, E as well as antioxidant polyphenols.
Grouped by color, brown algaes include kelp, kombu, and nori. They are rematerializing, detoxifying, and help reduce cellulite. Green algaes, like wakame that are rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants, assist in stimulating collagen synthesis. Spirulina and other blue-green algaes contain concentrated amino acids and stimulate cellular metabolism. Red algaes soothe sensitive skin, and white algaes are detoxifying and soothing.
We may think of seaweeds as being salty, but that salty taste is not solely derived from salt (sodium and chloride), a sea of other vital minerals, including iodine, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, iron, zinc, and selenium, also influence their taste. Seaweeds contain the concentrated balance of minerals found in seawater, which is similar to the balance found in our own body's plasma and blood. Seaweeds therefore nourish and remineralize the body.
Kat James, holistic beauty and health expert, and author of the annually updated classic The Truth About Beauty, raves about the beneficial properties of seaweeds. James says they â€œare one of the most important ingredients in skincare because of their ability (depending on concentration and the type of seaweed) to stimulate circulation, detoxification, and even collagen production, while at the same time giving an immediate plump softness to the skin without the irritation and potential harm of daily alpha-hydroxy acid use.
Due to this wide range of benefits provided by seaweeds, whole or extracted components of the plants are used in beauty care products and spa treatments from wraps and bath salts to exfoliants, masks, and lotions. When absorbed by the skin, seaweeds promote detoxification and nourish the body.
At ocean-side spas, seaweed treatments attract those seeking to draw toxins from the body. Visitors flock from all over the world to visit California's famous 'grotto at Corona' Glen Ivy Spa and Hot Springs, and coat their skin with a luxurious mask made of a mixture of aloe and seaweed used in an underground hydrating cave-like chamber.
Between spa visits, bathing in seaweeds is detoxifying, nourishing, and rejuvenating. Barbara Stephens-Lewellan, who gathers seaweeds from a pristine stretch of northern California coast for the Mendocino Sea Vegetable Company, prepares seaweeds especially for bathing by soaking them in infusions of sea salt and lavender.
James also raves about bathing with sea vegetables and using them on the skin to promote lymphatic circulation and detoxification. She recommends adding some powdered spirulina to your bathwater along with your favorite bath salts and essential oils. Additionally, James suggests picking up dried kombu, nori, or dulse chips at the health food store, blending them in a Vita-Mix or other durable food processor/blender, and boiling them in pure or filtered water. After cooling, the resulting mineral-rich water can be used for bathing or a nourishing rinse.
The buzz around seaweeds has become much more audible lately. This has led to the proliferation of seaweed-enriched body care products and seaweed dishes on menus. Although currently plentiful, conservation of seaweed sources, reduction of pollution, and preservation of ocean purity are important concerns even for those of us who don't live on a coastline. Organizations, including the Ocean Protection Coalition, are involved in this conservation work.
Sea vegetables are both farmed (much commercial nori is grown off the coast of Japan) and collected by hand from the ocean. People who harvest sea vegetables, such as Stephens-Lewellan, liken their craft to trimming the hair of Grandmother Ocean. This may be a romantic image for seaweeds that lack an attractive physical appearance, but their importance for health and beauty are unparalleled.
at home recipe
Seaweed BathCompliments of Barbara Stephens-Lewellen, Seaweed Gatherer and Product Developer
Mendocino Sea Vegetable Company
1 handful of seaweed: varieties useful for the bath include such skin-nourishing natural gels as kombu, wakame, sea palm, and dulse
other herbs as desired: mint, rosemary, lavender
lemon or orange peels
muslin or cheesecloth bags for herbs (place herbs and seaweeds in separate herb bags)
Place a handful of seaweed in a muslin or cheesecloth bag (mesh bags from buying garlic at the market work well). Run the bath while setting the seaweed-filled bag in the tub to allow the gels and minerals from the plants to infuse the water. Hang the second bag of herbs under the faucet to release the scent while the water is running. Light some candles and have some pure water on hand to sip while bathing. While preparing the bath, support detoxification and lymphatic drainage by dry brushing the skin, stroking towards the heart with a firm-bristled brush.
While soaking in the mineral-rich water, you can squeeze some of the gel out of the seaweed bag and massage into the skin. Soak in the tub for as long as desired; 45 minutes is often recommended for detoxification and re-mineralization. After drying off, smooth some seaweed-enhanced lotion onto your skin. Drink pure water throughout the rest of the day to support the detoxifying effect of the seaweed. After use, allow the bag of seaweed to air dry; it can be used again for up to four baths.
Deep Sea Facial Mask
Sea Algae Enzyme Facial Scrub
Blue Green Algae with Grape Seed Extract Soothing Mask
Aromatic Sea Salts
Chai Soy Mud Facial
Mendocino Sea Vegetables
Turkish Towel and Feather Boa for the Bath
Outer Coast Seaweeds
Soothing SeaKelp Soak
Wild Seaweed Gel
Aromatic Seaweed Bath
AlguoMer Aqua-Detoxifying Bath
Eau Marine Toner
Antiseptic Sea Mineral Mist
Thalassobath with Algae
Seaweed in the SpaBellagio Hotel and Casino
Las Vegas, NV
Detox-Thalasso Seaweed Body Treatment
Cliff House Maine
Blueberry Body Wrap
Glen Ivy Resort and Spa
Corona, Brea, Valencia, Hermosa Beach, CA
Sea Kelp Clay Wrap
The Grotto (moisturizer of aloe and sea kelp applied in hydrating chamber)
Marina Dunes Resort
Seaweed Detoxifying Wrap
Ojai Valley Inn and Spa
Seaweed and Body Treatment (w/acupressure facial and scalp massage)
Palm Beach, FL
Sveltesse Wrap (w/Vichy rain shower) Marine Detox Wrap