Friday, March 18, 2011
Cosmeceuticals: Sea kelp bioferment
Sea kelp bioferment is derived from the fermentaiton of sea kelp using the bacteria Lactobacillus, which breaks down the cellular walls of the kelp, which should make the insides actually beneficial to our skin. (Remember that plants have really thick cell walls, and our bodies can't break those walls down, hence the eating of our vegetables equalling good fibre for our intestines.) The claims are made that this is a soothing and emollient ingredient that should offer some oil free moisturizer and film forming on our skin.
Sea kelp bioferment is found in one of the most expensive creams around, Creme de la Mer, which goes for something like $135 an ounce. (Joe Schwarcz has a great article about this cream and the attempts to recreate it in his book Science, Sense & Nonsense. You can read a bit of it here at Google Books.). And I think this has helped to create the idea that sea kelp bioferment is some mysterious ingredient that is worth a fortune. (I found it for $7.50 for an ounce at the Herbarie, and it's about the same at other suppliers.)
hydrolyzed proteins or aloe vera in that it offers great film forming and emolliency through the proteins and polysaccharides. Our hydrolyzed proteins are broken down to make them more suitable for our skin and the fermenting of the sea kelp does the same thing. So it will behave as a great emollient and film former.
Is it better than other, cheaper ingredients? It's hard to say. I wasn't able to find a lot of information about studies or research on this ingredient, so I can't give you an evidence based answer. It seems like it should work just as well as our hydrolyzed proteins for increasing moisture in our skin through film forming and emolliency, and it sounds like it would be a great inclusion in an oil free moisturizer to increase emolliency without increasing oil content. I think you could substitute this easily for any hydrolyzed protein you're using at the moment and get similar (or possibly better) skin feel.
As an aside, if you ask me if Creme de la Mer is worth $135 an ounce, I'd have to say no. Looking at the ingredient list, the first ingredient is the seaweed algae extract, then we find mineral oil, petroleum, and glycerin. There's nothing in there that is worth $135 an ounce - especially considering that we'd find that same ingredient list in a lot of drug store products - so don't believe the hype. I'm sure it's a fine product, but very few things in life are worth $135 an ounce! Okay, maybe my adorable puppy, but she works out to about $100 an ounce when I consider the grooming, feeding, vet bills, chewed socks and underpants, and toys.
Sea kelp bioferment comes as a thickish yellow to amber coloured liquid that is water soluble and heat stable, so we can add it to our heated water phase at 2% to 5%. I've seen that some people find the smell a bit briny, but I've been assured this odour won't show up in the final product. (I've used unfermented sea kelp extract and I found it very briny. Even my Clementine Cupcake fragrance oil couldn't save it - I just had fishy orange cupcake scent! It did feel very nice on my skin, but I couldn't get past the odour!)
Join me tomorrow for more fun with cosmeceuticals!