Seaweed for Skin: Can it Really Help with Acne, Aging, and Dryness?

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As more and more consumers turn away from harsh chemicals and dangerous preservatives, natural skincare ingredients have been taking the spotlight.

Many of these are nothing new – they’ve been used by our ancestors for centuries, but it’s only now that science is catching up, confirming the numerous ways in which plant extracts can benefit the skin.

Today, we’re going to be looking at one of the most powerful natural skincare ingredients out there – seaweed. How exactly can it help your skin, and which type of seaweed would be best? Read on to find out…

What is Seaweed?

Seaweed image

The term ‘seaweed’ refers to a group of marine plants and algae that all have one thing in common – they grow in the sea, as well as in lakes and rivers.

Since seaweed is able to absorb nutrients from both the water and the air, it’s known for being rich in vitamins and minerals.

In fact, it contains several nutrients that cannot be found in any other land-based plants [1], earning it its superfood reputation.

The Benefits of Seaweed for Your Skin

There are over 10,000 different types of seaweed out there, and each one is slightly different when it comes to its nutritional composition.

We’ll be discussing the different types later on, but, in the meantime, let’s take a look at some of the universal ways in which seaweed can help the skin on your face and body.

Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Seaweed is loved by the beauty industry for its anti-inflammatory benefits [2]. It’s able to soothe irritation and calm redness, lowering overall inflammation in the skin.

This makes it a useful skincare ingredient for anyone suffering from inflammatory skin conditions, be it psoriasis, rosacea, acne, or anything else.

Anti-Aging Effects

Seaweed is a fantastic anti-aging ingredient for a couple of reasons. Firstly, many varieties, such as laminaria digitata, are rich in amino acids, particularly glycine.

The skin uses amino acids to build new collagen and elastin fibers, which, in turn, gives the skin a firmer and smoother finish. The more amino acids you deliver to your skin, the more proteins it’ll be able to build, meaning fewer fine lines.

A high antioxidant content also contributes to the anti-aging benefits of seaweed. Vitamin C, vitamin A, flavonoids, carotenoids…the list goes on [3].

If you already follow an anti-aging skincare routine, then you’ll know how important antioxidants are. They neutralize free radicals and protect skin cells from damage, and therefore from fine lines and wrinkles too.

Middle-aged blond woman

Hydrates and Moisturizes

If your skin could do with some extra hydration, then seaweed is what you need. It’s packed with fatty acids that thicken and strengthen the skin’s natural barrier, while offering healing properties too. This prevents water from evaporating out of skin cells, boosting the skin’s moisture levels.

You’ll also find polysaccharides in seaweed, compounds that play a key role in how the skin is able to hydrate itself. They help the skin to lock in moisture deep within, giving it a plump and healthy finish.

Acne Prevention

The anti-inflammatory properties of seaweed go a long way in helping with acne prevention, but there’s more to the ingredient’s acne-fighting powers than this. When it comes to treating acne-prone skin, seaweed boasts powerful antimicrobial properties.

Research shows that certain types of seaweed are effective at eliminating the p.acnes bacteria from the surface of the skin [4] – the bacteria that would have otherwise triggered a breakout.

Even better, some forms of seaweed also regulate oil production in the skin. By preventing oily skin from producing excess oil, breakouts become a thing of the past.

Brightens Skin Tone and Fades Dark Spots 

While it may not be as famous as some of the other brightening ingredients out there, the ability to fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation is yet another one of the benefits of seaweed for skin.

Among its many vitamins and minerals lies niacin, a form of vitamin B3. You’ll find the ingredient in numerous skin brightening serum formulas because of how it inhibits melanin production, therefore preventing dark spots from forming.

Also read our article covering the best skin lightening creams.

Helps to Exfoliate and Detox the Skin

Dry brushing and exfoliating

Seaweed purifies the ocean, and it has similar detoxifying effects on the skin too.

Skin cells absorb the minerals in seaweed, which then boosts thyroid activity and metabolism, allowing cells to expel waste and toxins at a much faster rate.

In addition to detoxifying the cells deep within the skin, seaweed beauty products can also help to remove the dead skin cells on the surface of your skin too.

The ingredient has an exfoliating effect that clears away old and dead skin cells, allowing the fresh cells below to show through.

Combine it with an alpha hydroxy acid, such as mandelic acid, for even more benefits!

Choosing Between the Different Types of Seaweed in Beauty Products

As mentioned, there are thousands of different types of seaweed out there, so which do you pick? Some of the varieties that offer the most benefits include:

  • Bladderwrack – a brown seaweed that has powerful anti-aging and anti-inflammatory effects
  • Kelp – usually in the form of a powder, this brown ocean algae is nutrient-rich and is great for hydration
  • Red Algae – this seaweed extract will repair environmental damage and soothe sensitive skin
  • Spirulina – a blue/green marine algae that increases collagen production to slow down the skin aging process. It’s also able to repair damaged cells, improving the overall health of your skin

You’ll find seaweed extract in a variety of skincare products, with serum formulas usually the most effective. Since a serum is lightweight, it’s able to penetrate deep down into your facial skin, delivering its antioxidants and extracts to the cells that need them the most.

Does Seaweed Have Any Side Effects?

There aren’t many beauty ingredients out there that are safe for all skin types, including sensitive skin, but seaweed is one of them. It’s able to treat a wide range of skin conditions without any known side effects.

In fact, this natural ingredient is frequently consumed around the world too – this allows the rest of the body to experience its benefits as well.

Natural skin ingredient and oil


What seaweed is best for skin?

The benefits of seaweed vary depending on the type you choose, but bladderwrack, kelp, and red algae extracts tend to be the most popular.

Does seaweed lighten skin?

One of the benefits of seaweed is that it’s able to lighten dark spots and hyperpigmentation. However, it won’t lighten your natural skin tone.

Is seaweed good for face skin?

Yes, the moisturizing and healing properties of seaweed make it a great ingredient to hydrate and protect the skin on the face.


If you’re still unsure about whether or not to use skincare products containing seaweed, we’ll make things easy for you – the answer is yes, go for it!

This natural beauty ingredient is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making it capable of healing, hydrating, soothing, and turning back the clock on your skin.

It really does offer up so many different benefits, and, so long as it’s harvested from the sea in the right way, is a completely sustainable skincare ingredient too.



Avatar for Megan Foley

Megan has been a freelance writer and editor since 2016. In that time, she’s penned a diverse collection of articles for online publication, with a focus on skincare and beauty. From in-depth product reviews to concise marketing content, Megan is passionate about developing content that informs, entertains, and inspires.