an algae by any other name... is still cloggy!

By christine savage-mindel

pore clogging algae!

keeping up with cloggy ingredients is tricky when so many new ingredients are added to skin care product formulations all the time. but there is one family of ingredients that reliably clog our clients' pores: algae extracts! algae extracts are commonly found in acne products because they can reduce redness and purportedly normalize oil production and speed healing. in toothpastes, cloggy algae, carrageenan shows up as a thickening ingredient (see our post on how toothpaste can trigger acne). in other body-care products, algae extracts are added as effective antioxidants, emollients, thickening agents, and water-binding agents. algae are also touted for their abilities to firm, smooth, and re-texture skin and reduce inflammation, wrinkles, and cellulite. with such claims and utility, no wonder they appear in so many skin care products! but beware the hype, in addition to being cloggy (which sS has found to be true time and time again on our real life clients), cosmeticscop.com notes that some of the numerous properties attributed to algae extracts are unfounded. algae extracts are comedogenic because they penetrate the pore and accelerate the growth of micro-comedones. algae are also high in iodides, which can irritate the pore, triggering inflammation and the formation of pustules. over the last couple years, i have guinea-pigged (ie tested on my own skin) several products that had only one suspicious ingredient - an algae extract. each time, regardless of the kind of algae in the test product (plankton, laminaria, chlorella, etc.), within a few months, comedones had formed in my skin and i broke out. and we see the same time and again with clients who are using any of the variety of body products formulated with algae. in other words, in our experience... algae = breakout! so we put on our acne detective hats and hunted down all the sea plants that are sneaking their way into our toothpastes, shampoos, conditioners, makeup, cleansers, serums, moisturizers, and sunscreens. be on the look out for these otherwise benign sounding culprits! Ahnfeltia concinna Alaria esculenta Algae Extract Ascophyllum nodosum (aka rockweed, Norwegian kelp, knotted kelp) Black Kelp Blue Algae Blue Green Algae Brown Algae Carageenan Chondrus crispus (aka Irish moss or carrageen moss) Chlorella Crithmum maritimum Dilsea carnosa Dulse Ecklonia (all 9 species of it) Enteromorpha compressa Fucus vesiculosus (aka bladderwrack) Green Algae Haslea ostrearia Himanthalia elongate Irish Moss Kelp Lola implexa (aka Hydrolyzed Lola implexa) Laminaria digitata Laminaria longicruris Laminaria saccharine Lithothamnium Calcareum Mastocarpus stellatus Marine Algae Nori Padina pavonica Palmaria palmata Phytessence Wakame Porphyridium Cruentum Porphyra Red Algae Sargassum Seaweed Sea Whip Spirulina Ulva lactuca Undaria goodness! that's a long list - and i wouldn't be surprised if it continues to grow. so definitely do as we at sS do when we check product ingredients: if you don't recognize a plant-sounding name, "search engine" it to make sure that it's not a sneaky, pore-clogging algae! and if it is (you already know) don't use the product!

Not sure where to start?