Using Mediterranean Algae in Homemade Skincare Products

Where do I begin?  You might be thinking, Algae, really?

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Algae along Israel’s Mediterranean. Nahsholim Beach. Northern Israel.
It might look like the story began at Nahsholim Beach back in April where my husband and I took our first kid-free, one-night vacation along this beautiful beach in the north of Israel. While the Mediterranean water was still a bit chilly recovering from the winter, there was this amazing, bright green algae on the rocks (photo above).

Algae has definitely had a hype in the last 2 or 3 years, and you might have come across articles around the internet speaking about the various benefits of Algae in skincare products, bio fuels and even shoes.  Here are a few examples before I begin my story.

Recent Articles about the wide range benefits and uses of Algae:

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Photo taken from MindBodyGreen
“Detox Like The Swedes With This Healing Algae Bath”  from MindBodyGreen touches on how the Swedish swear that swimming in beaches where their is algae “tones skin, relaxes muscles, and stimulates circulation”.

“THE SEA CHANGE IN BEAUTY” from Harpers Bazaar goes deeper into business’s using Algae in their skincare lines. “Seafoam green and ocean blue are not just storming the runways, they’re also the colors du jour in the world of beauty. A tidal wave of marine ingredients—from algae to kelp, caviar to seawater—is cropping up in serums, hair conditioners, supplements, and spa treatments.”

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From Smithsonian.com
“These Sustainable Sneakers Are Made Using Algae” from Smithsonian.com follows how two companies, Vivobarefoot, which manufactures ultra-thin shoes, and Bloom, a company that uses algae to make flexible foam joined together. “In an effort to rid waterways of the slimy goop, a footwear brand and an algae-harvesting business teamed up and came up with an innovative plan to put excess algae to good use. As Stephanie Milot reports for Geek, the two companies will soon release the “Ultra III,” a sneaker made from algae.”

Is 2016 the year of algae? from Israel21c.org dives into how Algae in Israel is sought after for “everything from deluxe skin-care products to superfood supplements.”

My Story with Algae

The story for me begins at the Susan Ciminelli Day Spa which was once on the top floor of the Bergdorf Goodman department store in NYC. A fancy spa catering to Upper East Side women where I had a summer job between graduating from college in the U.S. and moving to Manchester, U.K to do my master’s degree. This was the summer of 2005, so already 12 years ago. If we see how the focus on “Algae” has recently exploded, Susan was surely a revolutionary at least 15 years ago when she started producing her skin care line.

I only met Susan a few times while working there, but she always talked about and encouraged us to sell her “Algae Deep Cleanse” Exfoliator.

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As she describes:

“Suited for all skin types, Algae Deep Cleanse is an extraordinary natural exfoliant that acts as a light, daily facial peel. This cooling, non-abrasive cleanser melts away dead skin particles deep within pores, leaving skin smooth and soft. Algae Deep Cleanse stimulates circulation as well as reduces fine lines and wrinkles.”

KEY INGREDIENTS: 
Algae Extract: 100% natural super food for the skin, purifies, contains glycogens that dissolve dead skin cells
Essential Oils of Peppermint, Rosemary and Eucalyptus: 100% natural, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, emollient, moisturizes, soothes, tones, protects
Aloe Vera: 100% natural, soothes, protects
Calendula Extract: 100% natural, soothes, nourishes

I did get to sample all her products that summer, and I do vaguely remember the Algae Deep Cleanse being a very special product that definitely left my skin smooth. But what I remember the most was Susan either saying to me, or I overheard her saying to a client, that the Algae came from the Mediterranean. Specifically from the south of France. She would go to France herself every so often and choose her Algae.

So the truth is, Algae never crossed my mind for the next 12 years until all of a sudden I was in the Mediterranean on Nahsholim Beach in Northern Israel and staring at this beautiful, abundant, bright green algae,  and it came back to me. The Algae Deep Cleanse. Susan Ciminelli Day Spa. This Algae is great for my skin!

My husband is more or less used to my DIY experiments, so he didn’t find it strange that I found the only small glass jar I had with me and started to collect as much Algae as I could.  I was suffering at the time from a bit of hormonal acne on my chin that wouldn’t go away (I stopped breastfeeding a few months prior) , so I immediately thought to use this Algae and some other ingredients to try to tackle this breakout.

I filled the jar with Algae and some seawater to keep it in its natural habtitat.

I put it right in the fridge when I got home because it was a Friday afternoon before Shabbat and I knew I wouldn’t have time to handle it right away.

Then a couple of days later I finally found the time, being a busy Mom and all.  I rinsed off the Algae a few times in water to get rid of the sand, and spread it out on a sheet to dry in the hot Jerusalem sun. At this stage I felt the Algae wasn’t any different to other herbs like basil, mint, or sage that I usually dry. Except it had a slight sea smell, but a good one.

It was a hot Jerusalem day, so by the end of the day it was ready to be used.

I ground it up in a coffee grinder like I would any herb or whole spice, and then I had an Algae Powder.

Then I made a Toner and a Spot Cream with Coconut Oil.

Here are the recipes:

Toner:

I filled a small spray bottle:

  • Half full with Rosewater
  • 1 tablespoon of the Algae Powder
  • 3-4 Drops of Tea Tree Oil

I shake it up before each use.

Coconut Oil Spot Cream:

I always save my face cream glass containers for homemade products, so here I just used an old glass jar that I had.

The ratio was like this:

  • 1 teaspoon of the Algae Powder
  • 4-5 Tbsp of Coconut Oil
  • 2-3 drops of Tea Tree Oil

Mix together with your finger before each use.  It will be more loose in the summer, but harden up in the winter.

Notes

  • Both products really helped me with the light hormonal acne on my chin area.  I would use the products only in the evening before I went to sleep. The toner all over my face and then the spot cream right on the area.
  • I am still using the toner on my face every evening, even though the acne has faded. It leaves my skin smooth and refreshed.
  • Rosewater, even alone, is an amazing, natural toner to refresh the skin. It brightens up my face, and sometimes I add one drop of lavender essential oil.  Before I had the Algae, I used only Rosewater as my daily toner.  If you are looking to buy Rosewater in Israel, I love all of Shekdia’s products and especially their Rosewater.  If you are abroad, you should be able to find natural Rosewater at most Middle Eastern groceries.
  • Both products, I would say, can last 6-8 weeks outside, but you can keep them in the fridge for a longer life.

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So next time you come across algae at the beach, don’t be scared, pick some up (wash it well, of course) and enjoy nature’s gifts.

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions. And, of course, I would love to hear your comments and your personal experiences with using algae.

2 Replies to “Using Mediterranean Algae in Homemade Skincare Products”

    1. Hi, thanks so much for letting me know, I need to go check it out at Cafe Cafe. Did it have a taste? So I see the algae trend is now hitting Israel, slowly slowly😀 By the way, do you also live in Jerusalem?

      Like

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