By Victoria Moorhouse
Updated Apr 01, 2019 @ 4:00 pm
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Elemis Algae
Credit: elemis/Instagram

Since I was a little girl, I’ve always viewed the ocean as the antidote to my anxiety. I specifically remember asking my mom to drive to the beach on days when my persistent internal stress became unmanageable.

I’ve always recognized the rejuvenating, revitalizing properties of the sea, but it wasn’t until I started working in beauty that I learned that the rich plant life inside the sea — specifically seaweed — can have a very similar effect on our skin. In fact, Elemis considers this marine algae to be the elixir from the physical signs of aging.

Seaweed — well, 12 macro and microalgae sourced from freshwater and marine environments — is the star ingredient in the luxury beauty brand's latest skincare lineup, the Ultra Smart Pro-Collagen Collection, which consists of a serum and a day/night eye cream duo.

Elemis - Embed
Credit: Courtesy of Elemis

The 12 different forms of seaweed are broken up into two different complexes, Ultra Smart Algae Complex and the Ultra Smart Line Fighting Complex, which work to improve elasticity and firmness, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, support collagen production, and strengthen the skin. The Ultra Smart Algae Complex is bonded with a bespoke "Drone Peptide Technology," which absorbs into the skin and delivers a boost of hyaluronic acid to the areas that need it most.

So what makes seaweed so powerful when it comes to anti-aging? "There is not just one action," explains Noella Gabriel, the president and co-founder of Elemis. "Each color [of seaweed] brings its own performance." And by grouping several seaweed strains together, you get a gentle and adaptogenic formulation that targets multiple issues.

VIDEO: Beauty Now: Facial Acupuncture

For example, Dr. Melanie Palm, a board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon, explains that seaweed can deliver hydration, antioxidants, as well as other skin rejuvenation properties. "Some seaweed extracts and strains have shown to stimulate both collagen and elastin production, important structural and flexibility proteins for healthy skin," says Dr. Palm. "Blue-green seaweed tends to be richest in this attribute due to a protein called chlorella."

Outside of traditional anti-aging qualities, Dr. Palm says seaweed can also help restore the skin barrier, and is known to be an anti-inflammatory. "Seaweed has an amazing ability to protect itself in a rapidly changing environment and detoxify harmful insults from its environment," she explains. "Some seaweed species contain vitamin B complexes and can be helpful in calming skin, reducing facial redness and the appearance of rosacea."

She says that while medical research on seaweed is scant compared to anti-aging ingredients like retinol, it is a solid option for those that want a "naturally-derived" substance or something that is more gentle for sensitive skin types. As for how it's sourced, Elemis cultures the seaweed and replants everything that's taken.

Elemis isn't nearly the first to harvest the benefits of seaweed in skincare, but its the brand's amount of seaweed strains used, the delivery technology, and the luxurious yet fast-absorbing textures that truly set it apart. Well, that, and the claims.

The brand says the collection is the highest performing formulas in the history of Elemis. When it comes to the Pro-Collagen Complex 12 Serum ($335), 100 percent of those included in the clinical trial reported an improvement in the appearance of deep set lines and wrinkles, as well as an improvement in skin firmness.

Both eye creams ($230 for both) are infused with the seaweed technology, but are formulated to target different issues depending on the time of the day. For example, the Morning Eye Balm reduces puffiness and comes with a cooling metal massager, while the Evening Eye Cream's ingredients are slowly released as the night goes on to tighten wrinkles around the eye contour as you sleep.

On a day where I'm particularly stressed, I can manage to get myself near some body of water. But on those days where I'm particularly peeved by the lines forming around my mouth and the dent in-between my brows? I think I'll probably be reaching for what Elemis co-founder Noella Gabriel classifies as "the richness of the sea."