The use of alguronic acid in skin care is a hot topic in dermatology and is a recently discovered beneficial ingredient in discovering the “fountain of youth.”
In this article, we will discuss what alguronic acid is and everything you need to know about it.
We will take a look at its skin benefits to determine if alguronic acid is useful in skincare and if it should be considered a cosmeceutical.
We will also provide a background on Algenist, the biotech company behind alguronic acid.
What is alguronic acid?
Alguronic acid is a trade name and is comprised of a mixture of molecules that are produced by microalgae when grown in cultures.(1)
It is an undefined mixture of chemicals that are processed and formulated into various products, notably within skincare.(1)
The discovery of types of algae such as microalgae as a component of skincare has been studied extensively, though further studies are needed.
Does alguronic acid have skin benefits? What the research says
1. It has anti-aging compounds
The benefits of alguronic acid to the skin include anti-aging improvements.(7)
In commercial lab testing, significant results were demonstrated regarding the skincare benefits of alguronic acid compared to other well-known anti-aging ingredients in skincare.
However, the funding for these studies has not been disclosed or identified, which may contribute to bias.
Depending on the growth conditions of the cultures of the mixtures of algae, alguronic acid as a diverse combination of molecules may differ, and the individual structures of its components are not clearly defined.
2. It is used in cosmeceuticals
Cosmetics are widely used by many to help protect our skin from the environment, pollution, and other potentially harmful outer or environmental sources.
Cosmeceuticals refer to a cosmetic skincare product that is found to have potential drug-like or medicinal benefits.(3–4) Marine algae have gained widespread attention as potential sources of ingredients for cosmeceuticals.
3. It is derived from natural sources
In addition, there has been a movement to seek cosmeceuticals derived from more natural sources, which are believed to be better for our skin than synthetic ingredients.
This is because synthetic (or artificially manufactured) ingredients may have an increased risk of side effects and lower absorption due to the large sizes of the molecules often present.(5)
Consideration of naturally sourced plant-based skincare products such as the ZELEN Life Cleanser and Moisturizer, as well as exploring how micro algae and marine life can integrate into your skin, is just another way you can learn how to build a natural skincare routine for your skin type.
4. It is considered safer and less toxic to humans
The reason for the popularity of marine algae in skin care has also been eased by the belief that they are considered one of the safest and richest ingredients, with insignificant toxicity in humans.
5. It can relieve rashes and help pigmented skin
The use of marine algae in skincare is believed to have skin benefits ranging from relief of rashes to brightening and whitening of the skin, correction of pigmentary dyschromia, and even anti-carcinogenic benefits.
6. It contains antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties
The applications of algae and its potential as a cosmetic therapeutic agent or cosmeceutical include skin whitening, antimicrobial, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant activity as summarized in the currently available medical literature on this subject.(6)
Its functional abilities and underlying mechanisms are explored in this overview as well as using available medical and scientific literature.
While there may be skincare benefits in the use of microalgae, there are also challenges in obtaining this resource. These challenges include methods to find the micro algae and extract it, how to process the algae itself, quality considerations, and regulations in implementing it.
Algenist with alguronic acid: A cosmeceutical
Various cosmeceutical and skincare products have been marketed as algae-based.
This includes Algenist, which is an anti-aging moisturizer that contains alguronic acid from algae and micro-algae oil.(1)
In 2011, alguronic acid was more broadly introduced to the commercial market as an active ingredient in commercial products. In skincare, Algenist geared it towards anti-aging.(1)
Bioactive compounds from algae can be considered as potential cosmeceuticals, such as alguronic acid. Other algae-based products include Helioguard365 (a sunscreen made from red seaweed Porphyra umbilicalis), Dermochlorella (an anti-wrinkling product from Chlorella vulgaris extract), Helionori by Gelyma, and Protulines by Exsymol (an anti-aging agent from Arthrospira protein-rich extract).(1)
Algenist includes a patented formula of the ingredient alguronic acid. It is sustainably sourced from algae in its natural state, using biotechnology innovation.(1)
This particular company also has sourced vitamin C from Spirulina, a form of blue-green algae through biotechnological research of the natural marine environment.(2)
Alguronic acid also boosts the benefits of other ingredients in their products. It has been shown to scientifically contribute to skincare benefits as a cosmeceutical agent.
Research and development for Algenist studied about 10,000 species of micro algae for a decade before finding alguronic acid, produced by micro algae species, which has a unique ability to thrive in harsh climates and unique environments while retaining the ability to regenerate and protect itself.(1)
Further testing claims unique anti-aging benefits comparable to other skincare ingredients.
As a cosmeceutical that combines the terms cosmetics and pharmaceutical, this product indicates that active ingredients, such as alguronic acid, are present to meet a positive performance within the skin or skincare benefit.(3–4)
It is proposed that cosmeceuticals such as alguronic acid work at the level of our cells to improve our skin’s appearance. The consumer demand for cosmeceutical products sustainably produced from our natural environments, such as marine algae and micro algae, is growing.(3–4)
Natural algae have been found to be highly effective for therapeutic use with low toxicity.(1)
Marine organisms such as micro algae have been found to have extensive potential as cosmeceuticals, even though each type of algae is rich yet diverse in structure.(5)
Various important molecules have been derived from marine algae, which have been discovered to have antioxidant, antiallergenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and anti-wrinkling effects, as well as some form of ultraviolet and sun protection.(6)
Nonetheless, the success of Algenist as a cosmeceutical has backed its success as a novel method to rejuvenate the skin.
Alguronic acid vs. hyaluronic acid: A comparison
Hyaluronic acid is a widely known beneficial ingredient in cosmeceuticals, anti-aging, and rejuvenation. Therefore it would make sense to try to compare alguronic acid vs. hyaluronic acid.
Alguronic acid is not a natural component of our skin. Thus, it should not be affected by our own enzymes, which are substances that carry out reactions in our body, including our skin. This contrasts with hyaluronic acid, which can be found in our dermis as part of the dermal matrix or can be made artificially and is degraded by our natural enzyme, which breaks down hyaluronic acid and is known as hyaluronidase.
In contrast, hyaluronic acid plays a large role in the structure of our connective tissues and its ability to participate in the reparative process as it is distributed throughout our entire body.
In laboratory testing, alguronic acid was discovered to decrease the production of this enzyme, which breaks down hyaluronic acid, hyaluronidase, by about two thirds.(8)
However, it may be on a more positive note, as this may mean that we may retain more of our skin’s hyaluronic acid, which contributes to our youth, collagen synthesis, and preservation, and wrinkle prevention than we would otherwise.
The benefits of micro algae, including extracts and bioactive compounds, vary but are vast.
Depending on the algae species, bioactive compounds, or algal extract involved, these benefits range from anti-carcinogenic to anti-diabetic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-aging and anti-melanogenic, anti-microbial, and anti-acne activity.(6)(9)(10)(11)(12)(13)(14)(15)(16)
The biology and science of alguronic acid and its origin in microalgae are difficult to pinpoint but range from inhibition of enzymes that could potentially degrade hyaluronic acid, which contributes to our youth. It also contributes to the inhibition of other effects that naturally occur, which may be potentially harmful.
Given today’s broad and vast research in dermatology, cosmeceuticals, and naturally sourced ingredients, consumer demand has shifted to more naturally derived products such as alguronic acid to maximize efficacy and minimize adverse effects.
There is great importance in the study of algae-derived compounds and scientific evidence of their therapeutic value, as well as limitations and challenges on sourcing these products.
Current literature supports the presence of micro algae, green algae, red algae, and brown algae in cosmeceuticals with potential therapeutic properties on the skin.
Various bioactive molecules have been derived from algae sources and used in cosmeceuticals such as pigments, proteins, and lipids. These have been used as active ingredients in cosmetic and skincare formulas.
Furthermore, naturally derived from algae in skincare have been found to be effective and less harmful to the consumer than synthetic compounds.
However, the exact science behind achieving these milestones in biology and skincare needs further investigation and is not completely clear. More clinical studies are needed to determine the contents of allergens, phototoxicity, tolerance and irritation, and product absorption.
Do you have any experience using plant-based skincare or marine-based products such as those formulated with algae derivatives or micro algae?
If so, please feel free to comment and share below.
We would love to hear your thoughts and experience using these items and what benefits or results you achieved.
Subscribe to our email list to learn more about how different plant-based sources, marine life such as micro algae, or other ingredients, such as propylene glycol and dimethicone are implemented in skincare.
1. Thiyagarasaiyar K, Goh BH, Jeon YJ, Yow YY. Algae Metabolites in Cosmeceutical: An Overview of Current Applications and Challenges. Mar Drugs. 2020;18(6):323. Published 2020 Jun 19. doi:10.3390/md18060323
2. Wu Q., Liu L., Miron A., Klímová B., Wan D., Kuča K. The antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and anti-inflammatory activities of Spirulina: An overview. Arch. Toxicol. 2016;90:1817–1840. doi: 10.1007/s00204-016-1744-5.
3. Kligman D. Cosmeceuticals. Dermatol. Clin. 2000;18:609–615. doi: 10.1016/S0733-8635(05)70211-4.
4. Dureja H., Kaushik D., Gupta M., Kumar V., Lather V. Cosmeceuticals: An emerging concept. Indian J. Pharm. 2005;37:155–159. doi: 10.4103/0253-7613.16211.
5. Jahan A., Ahmad I.Z., Fatima N., Ansari V.A., Akhtar J. Algal bioactive compounds in the cosmeceutical industry: A review. Phycologia. 2017;56:410–422. doi: 10.2216/15.58.1.
6. Galasso C., Corinaldesi C., Sansone C. Carotenoids from marine organisms: Biological functions and industrial applications. Antioxidant. 2017;6:96. doi: 10.3390/antiox6040096.
7. Ariede M.B., Candido T.M., Jacome A.L.M., Velasco M.V.R., de Carvalho J.C.M., Baby A.R. Cosmetic attributes of algae—A review. Algal Res. 2017;25:483–487. doi: 10.1016/j.algal.2017.05.019.
8. Shibata T., Fujimoto K., Nagayama K., Yamaguchi K., Nakamura T. Inhibitory activity of brown algal phlorotannins against hyaluronidase. Int. J. Food Sci. Technol. 2002;37:703–709. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2621.2002.00603.x.
9. Fu W., Nelson D.R., Yi Z., Xu M., Khraiwesh B., Jijakli K., Chaiboonchoe A., Alzahmi A., Al-Khairy D., Brynjolfsson S., et al. Bioactive compounds from microalgae: Current development and prospects. Stud. Nat. Prod. Chem. 2017;54:199–225.
10. Fernando I.S., Nah J.W., Jeon Y.J. Potential anti-inflammatory natural products from marine algae. Environ. Toxicol. Pharm. 2016;48:22–30. doi: 10.1016/j.etap.2016.09.023.
11. Talero E., García-Mauriño S., Ávila-Román J., Rodríguez-Luna A., Alcaide A., Motilva V. Bioactive compounds isolated from microalgae in chronic inflammation and cancer. Mar. Drugs. 2015;13:6152–6209. doi: 10.3390/md13106152.
12. Hwang H., Chen T., Nines R.G., Shin H.C., Stoner G.D. Photochemoprevention of UVB-induced skin carcinogenesis in SKH-1 mice by brown algae polyphenols. Int. J. Cancer. 2006;119:2742–2749. doi: 10.1002/ijc.22147.
13. Banskota A.H., Sperker S., Stefanova R., McGinn P.J., O’Leary S.J. Antioxidant properties and lipid composition of selected microalgae. J. Appl. Phycol. 2019;31:309–318. doi: 10.1007/s10811-018-1523-1.
14. Shannon E., Abu-Ghannam N. Antibacterial derivatives of marine algae: An overview of pharmacological mechanisms and applications. Mar. Drugs. 2016;14:81. doi: 10.3390/md14040081.
15. Lauritano C., Andersen J.H., Hansen E., Albrigtsen M., Escalera L., Esposito F., Helland K., Hanssen K.Ø., Romano G., Ianora A. Bioactivity screening of microalgae for antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, anti-diabetes, and antibacterial activities. Front. Mar. Sci. 2016;3:68. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2016.00068.
16. Kamei Y., Sueyoshi M., Hayashi K.I., Terada R., Nozaki H. The novel anti-Propionibacterium acnes compound, Sargafuran, found in the marine brown alga Sargassum macrocarpum. J. Antibiot. 2009;62:259–263. doi: 10.1038/ja.2009.25.
17. Nayaka S., Toppo K., Verma S. Plant Adaptation Strategies in Changing Environment. Springer; Singapore: 2017. Adaptation in Algae to Environmental Stress and Ecological Conditions; pp. 103–115.