Seaweed – When skin needs a kelping hand...
Hazel Davis road tests some intriguing seaweed-enhanced skincare.
You don’t need me to tell you of the benefits of seaweed to the skin – but I will anyway: it’s rich in vitamins and minerals and it has natural anti-inflammatory properties. So, being someone who has fought a lifelong battle with spots and problem skin, I was eager to give some seaweed products a whirl.
Sea-Med Handmade Seaweed Soap (£5.95, 100g)
I love an olive oil-based soap. You really feel like you're getting your money's worth. None of your flaking away in your fingers action for this little gem. So this one also has coconut oil, rice bran oil with the seaweed powder and this mix of oils really shows in the using, leaving my skin feel moisturised and supple afterwards and leaving a pleasant, fresh smell. The packaging is basic (just clear plastic with a label) and functional and this made me like it even more. It's just a pleasant soap. No pretensions, no pomp, and now takes a utilitarian pride of place at my kitchen sink.
Free from palm oil, SLS and parabens. Unfragranced.
Sea-Med Skin Rescue Balm (£14.99)
Knowing that this balm was prepared from seaweed gathered off the West Coast of Ireland, made me positively determined to enjoy it. Luckily I did. It’s a lovely and compact little barrier cream and it smells delicious, much like a proper nappy-rash cream (and, believe me, I have used a few of those), thanks to the lavender oil. If you don’t have eczema (and I don’t) it might feel a little greasy going on and I have been sure to use it sparingly. However, as a lip balm or targeted-use cream it’s great and something I would be happy to have permanently at hand for dry-skin eventualities.
Contains only sunflower, jojoba, beeswax, seaweed and lavender. Free from all other ingredients. Anecdotal reports from the manufacturers say it’s particularly good for calming eczema of the anal and genital areas.
Caraderm Seaweed Serum (£6.50, 50ml)
Rich in many minerals and vitamins, this lotion is almost completely odourless, which is great for many people, but I do love a strong fragrance! It felt so mild that it seemed to have almost no impact on my skin. However, as its aim is to help calm irritated or itchy skin I tried it after shaving my legs a few times and it was nice and cold to apply and certainly didn’t irritate at all. The packaging is a little uninspiring, though. Other than as an after shave lotion, it is also said to be good for inflamed skin, as an after sun, or for bites and stings.
Free from alcohol and allergens.
Seaweed Organics Shampoo (£9.50) and Conditioner (£10.50)
I recently started swimming in earnest, which means I wash my hair a lot more than I used to and which also means a conditioner is essential. Luckily, the Seaweed Organics Shampoo and Conditioner have been my swimming-bag best friends over recent weeks. I was a bit loath to start regularly using something harsh on my (dyed) hair so I loved the idea of a daily dose of seaweed, rosemary and vitamin E on it. Both the shampoo and conditioner smell gorgeous (the rosemary scent is very strong) and waft around me for the rest of the day, hiding the smell of the chlorine and making my hair feel very clean, if not particularly soft and shiny. The packaging is simple and unimposing and the pop-lid makes it easy to hail in and out of the swimming pool showers/trust not to escape all over my bag.
Seaweed Organics Seaweed SkinFood (£13.50, 30ml)
This lovely cream and I have had a very successful relationship over the last month or so. In fact it's seen me very nicely through the Christmas food and alcohol binge. It's rescued me at the end of the day after my body's seen a distinct lack of water and my face even less. It's lovely stuff, going on with some depth, like it's really working hard, but without being too greasy. The smell is lovely (that’ll be the rose and frankincence) and it's one of those creams that you can slather on and lie down safe in the knowledge that something's working somewhere. Its effects last well and my only complaint is that I don’t have enough of it to spread all over my entire body.
All Seaweed Organics products are free from petrochemicals, lanolin and parabens.
Ishga Regenerating Face Serum (£60, 50ml)
I wanted so much to love this. I like the purple and silver packaging and I like the idea of spraying seaweed virtuously on my face every night. It is meant to revitalise, soothe and refresh, and boasts seawater from marine waters of the Hebrides, with local seaweed extract too. But … it’s smelly, and unlike some things that are beneficial but a bit whiffy this smell didn’t feel worth it during the testing period as the product didn’t do anything for my skin, unfortunately. It had a tendency to leave my skin feeling a bit sticky, like it has the residue of a fishy facemask on it, and I found myself wanting to wash it off. Sadly, I didn’t find this is worth it. Also it’s unpleasant if you get it on your lips by mistake.
Lulu and Boo Seaweed Purifying Face Mask (£23.50, 50ml)
As with all Lulu and Boo products, the pot is a cut above most others of its ilk. As always, it also delivers. With an almost edible smell, this mask goes on easily and feels nice during application. It does have a tendency to go a bit liquidy at the top if it’s left too long but a quick stir sorts that out. Afterwards my skin feels refreshed and revitalised, if a tiny bit chalky (nothing a moisturiser doesn’t sort out). The ingredients are heartening to read: aloe vera, witch hazel and propolis and, I believe, really have made a difference to my skin after several uses.
Free from SLS, parabens and synthetic fragrances or colorants.
First published January 2015. Updated February 2017.
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