Can Spirulina Give You Clear Skin?

The powerhouse ingredient is loaded with benefits.

Photo: Moyo Studio/Getty Images

When looking at your skincare products, you may notice a few ingredients that have equal benefits to your diet. And since our skin is always connected to what's going on the inside, eating or drinking anything that nourishes your body as a whole is always a plus.

But let's focus on one thing in particular: spirulina.

From its antibacterial properties and essential amino acids, spirulina is one of the most beneficial additions to your skincare routine that can be consumed or applied topically. Although the Tik Toks raving over spirulina are intriguing, we talked to some experts to get the official deets on how this powerhouse ingredient can benefit our skin.

What is spirulina?

Spirulina is a blue-green algae that is harvested and dried for its healthful value. It is rich in nutrients, lipids, and vitamins A, E, and K. It also contains various minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium, and potassium.

Candice Miele, partnering esthetician of IMAGE Skincare, says that despite its unpleasant scent, this is a food you'll want to add to your diet.

"For centuries, the native peoples of Mexico, Africa, and Asia have eaten this superfood as a primary source of protein," she shares.

The high concentration of amino acids has made spirulina a popular nutritional supplement (ingestible pill or powder), becoming an addition to our smoothies and skincare products.

Master esthetician Nicole Caroline likes to think of spirulina as "green tea on steroids" because it contains a chain of eight essential fatty amino acids that do not naturally occur in the body.

"It helps in protecting and firming your skin, fighting off free radicals, and improving the overall appearance of your skin through detoxification and boosting collagen production," she adds.

How does spirulina benefit the skin?

When implementing spirulina into your diet, skin health will be promoted in several ways.

"Due to its high nutrient and mineral content, and antioxidant properties, spirulina can aid in the reduction of acne and cell repair," Miele says. She also adds that spirulina will increase the skin's metabolism, enabling faster healing and preventing bacteria overgrowth. Plus, it will protect your skin's barrier and prevent moisture loss as well. So basically, it's your skin's BFF.

Using products topically on your skin helps to prevent UV rays, pollen, and airborne contaminants from wreaking havoc on the skin, but the process of cell generation and a healthy functioning body happens internally. Miele states that for this reason, using spirulina will be beneficial to achieving healthy skin and will assist in treating skin conditions such as acne, loss of elasticity, dark circles, and hyperpigmentation.

Does spirulina benefit certain skin types more than others?

Here's yet another reason to praise this superfood: it provides benefits for all skin types.

Spirulina will work with your other skincare products to treat skin issues like eczema, acne, and a damaged skin barrier. Using it internally or externally will benefit your skin, no matter what your skin type is.

So, you can consume spirulina and apply it topically, too?

Yes, spirulina can be added to your diet or applied topically to skin.

"It's going to help regulate your gut microbiome as well as pH, which has many correlations to the skin," Joshua Ross of SkinLab says. "When applying spirulina topically, antioxidants will help neutralize free radicals as well as anti-inflammatory properties." "We always want to fight inflammation and free radical damage any way we can, and this is a wonderful way to do that," Caroline adds.

So whether you want to add spirulina to your morning smoothie, take a pill supplement to provide your body with benefits from the inside out, or just use beauty products that contain it, your body will receive its goodness.

That said, there is no exact telling which method of usage will lead to the best results for the skin. New York City-based dermatologist Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, says that it is hard to know how much gets absorbed when ingested and whether or not that is enough to have an effect on the skin. Ross suggests using spirulina in combination with a supplement and a high-quality skincare product that includes spirulina alongside other beneficial ingredients to see the best results. This way, your entire body will receive the incredible benefits of spirulina — and your skin will also look and feel healthier.

From non-toxic makeup and skincare to sustainability practices, Clean Slate is an exploration of all things in the green beauty space.

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