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The Key to Algenist’s Anti-Aging Formulations: Alguronic Acid

If you follow buzz-y ingredients in the skincare realm, you’ve likely heard various brands trumpet the rejuvenating, firming, restorative properties of sea algae. But what is it about sea algae that makes it such an effective ingredient in anti-aging formulations? Well, according to a team of biotechnology scientists based in San Francisco, California, the answer is alguronic acid, a polysaccharide compound that protects the microalgae cell. Wondering whether alguronic acid could have similar protective and regenerative properties when in contact with human skin cells, this team of scientists conducted a series of laboratory tests and discovered that alguronic acid increased elastin synthesis by up to 32% and boosted cellular regeneration by up to 55%. Not too shabby, right? What started out as a marine biology experiment aimed at finding renewable energy sources, then, turned into the nascent stages of a new skincare company, Algenist, designed to battle visible aging signs. Since debuting last year, Algenist has already amassed a cult following, securing prime real estate inside Sephora stores and joining the family of products touted on QVC.

While I’ve written about some of these products before, I’ve never done so in the context of a true, in-depth exploration of the Algenist brand — which is why, for this piece, I”ll be focusing on some of its marquee products.

First, there’s the  Algenist Gentle Rejuvenating Cleanser ($25 at Algenist.com), a face wash that’s so superb it belies its affordable price tag.During a QVC event for beauty editors and bloggers earlier this year, I had the chance to chat with Algenist Product Developer Riva Bark and she confessed that, were she to be stranded in a desert island with only one beauty product at her disposal, she would pick this cleanser. With such a resounding endorsement, then, I couldn’t resist the urge to try the cleanser for myself. Now, I’ll admit: I’m not generally fond of cream cleanser since I find that they leave my skin feeling a bit greasy, as if there were still a film-like layer of product atop my face. Most of the time, then, I prefer lightweight gel cleansers or extremely frothy washes such as Caudalie’s Instant Foaming Clenaser and L’Occitane’s Immortelle Brightening Cleansing Foam. There are, however, a few cream cleansers that manage to remove dirt and debris while moisturizing skin and leaving it feeling squeaky clean (among them the Korres’ Milk Proteins Foaming Cream Cleanser), and the Algenist Gentle Rejuvenating Cleanser definitely falls within this category. While it won’t produce a sudsy foam, it does lather quite nicely when you rub it in between palms vigorously prior to application. The paraben-, sulfate-, phtalate-, and fragrance-free cleanser relies on: alguronic acid to stimulate cellular rejuvenation, along with collagen and elastin synthesis, hence making skin appear firmer and more luminous; oat amino acids, which condition and moisturize the skin, balance pH levels, and soothe topical inflammations; witch hazel, a natural astringent and antimicrobial; licorice fruit extract, a natural skin brightener; lemon peel extract, an excellent source of vitamin C, which both protects skins from free radicals and tackles hyperpigmentation; apple extract, which protects skin from oxidative stress that can, in turn, lead to the emergence of premature aging signs; soothing camellia leaf extract; and sugar cane extract, which is rich in Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) that naturally exfoliate skin and stimulate cellular production. After incorporating this cleanser into my skincare routine, I can honestly say I feel like my skin looks more youthful and vibrant. Heck, if I wind up in some Gilligan’s Island-esque scenario, I hope I’ll have this cleanser within my reach as well!

Now, after washing my face each morning an evening, I apply a few drops of the Algenist Concentrated Reconstructing Serum ($95 at Algenist.com), which I like to think of as an instant youth booster. Though relatively lightweight, the serum has a slightly cloudy, amost milk look to it, and yet it’s readily absorbed by the skin (another benefit of alguronic acid), along with Tetra-Peptide 21, a synthetic peptide consisting of glutamic acid, glycine and lysine (all of which play important roles in collagen and elastin production). Other ingredients include: soothing green tea extract;  viamin C-rich orange and lemon extracts; antioxiant-rich bamboo extract, which helps the skin absorb nutrients, vitamins, and minerals; pea extract, which contains proteins that improve skin tension, thereby tightening the skin; and both apple extract and apple stem cells. Minutes after applying the serum to your face, you’ll notice a slight improvement in terms of overall radiance and smoothness but the results will become most apparent after cumulative use — particularly the skin-firming effects.

After applying the serum, I follow up with a moisturizer. In the mornings. I prefer applying the Algenist Regenerative Anti-Aging Lotion ( $75 at Algenist.com) since it’s relatively lgihtweight and it covers most of the ground I need, hydrating and nourishing my complexion, minimizing any intrusive lines an wrinkles, and increasing overall radiance via a combination of alguronic acid, algae extract, and vitamins C and E. I then follow up with an SPF and my skincare routine is virtually complete (eye cream notwithstanding).

In the evenings, meanwhile, I prefer the Algenist Overnight Restorative Cream ($90 at Algenist.com), a really rich and decadently velvety moisturizer that thrusts your skin into “fix-it” mode as you catch your Zzs. In addition to alguronic acid, vitamins C and E, and collagen-boosting peptides, this rich cream counts on the following ingredients: sea fennel extract, which contains excellent toning properties; watermelon extract, which hinders DNA degraation in human skin cells and thereby protects the skin from UV rays, pollution, and environmental hazards; moisturizing shea butter; lentil extract, believed to regulate sebum production; apple extract and apple stem cells; glycerin and squalane.

Since the Overnight Restorative Cream is on the heavier side, I recommend using it sparingly, warming the moisturizer in between your palms and then applying to the skin in upward strokes. Also, if you have oily or combination skin, you may want to stick to the Regenerative Anti-Aging Lotion since this product really does perform best for women with dry and/or mature skin. That being said, if you fit into the latter category, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you wake up in the morning as the term “beauty sleep” will finally seem like more than an empty expression.

If I’d have to recommend two products from the collection, I’d go with the cleanser and serum but trust: once you try those out, you’ll soon want to investigate the rest of the line.

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