This powerful new superfood skincare ingredient is about to make waves in the wellness world

July 30, 2023

Move over ashwagandha, açai and chia seeds, it’s algae’s time in the superfood spotlight. Irish sea moss, a nutrient-rich red algae that grows primarily along the Atlantic coasts of Europe and North America, is packed full with antioxidants and minerals. Taking the wellness world by storm, sea moss helps with everything from heart health and weight management to mental health, energy and of course, skin. Ready to enter your algae era? Here’s everything you need to know.

What is sea moss and where does it come from? 

Irish sea moss, a type of red algae, is found in warmer waters in addition to the Atlantic coasts of Europe and North America, according to Dr. Rachel Heussner, a Naturopathic Doctor at Four Moons Spa, in San Diego, CA. “It has been used for centuries for its rich nutritional content and potential health benefits. With its high mineral content, including iodine, magnesium and potassium, sea moss is a versatile ingredient often incorporated into various recipes and consumed as a dietary supplement for its potential immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties,” Dr. Heussner says.  

There are many types of algae, Irish sea moss being one of them. It’s important to note that some algae could actually be harvested in the wild,” says expert Heidi Herrmann, who works with ForageSF to lead seaweed (another type of algae) foraging tours in the San Francisco Bay area. Think algae foraging is your calling? You’re in luck—but do some research beforehand. “Anyone can harvest seaweed up to 10 pounds without a license in California, but it is very important to know where to cut on the algae so that it can regrow,”  Hermann says.

What are its benefits to your overall health?  

Rich in iodine, sea moss helps support thyroid function, and due to its high fiber content, it could help aid digestion and promote a healthy gut. The algae family is a “potent source of omega-3 fatty acids,” according to Dr. Heussner, who says sea moss in particular, adds an anti-inflammatory boost as well, which could benefit heart health. The omega-3 fatty acids can also help give you radiant skin, hair and nails, as well as boost energy levels and support your immune system.

The beautifying benefits are countless, thanks to its many minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and anti-viral, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. According to Dr. Hannah Lollar, who also works at Four Moons Spa, topical benefits of sea moss include hydration, improved skin elasticity, reduced redness, inflammation and anti-aging effects. “Rich in antioxidants, sea moss helps protect the skin from free radical damage and prevent premature aging,” she says.

Sea moss can also help improve libido and sexual function in both men and women, Dr. Lollar adds. Traditionally used as an aphrodisiac, sea moss is rich in zinc, a mineral that is important for sexual health and fertility. Zinc is involved in the production of testosterone, a hormone that plays a key role in sexual desire and function in both men and women,” she says. Sea moss also contains amino acids essential for the production of neurotransmitters, impacting mood regulation and sexual desire.

How could you incorporate it into your daily wellness routine?  

Many skincare products contain algae for its multitude of skincare benefits, including hydration, brightening and anti-aging effects, according to Jessica Candy, Director of Spa at Montage Kapalua Bay. “Algae is an amazing humectant and much like hyaluronic acid, draws moisture to the surface of the skin so is an excellent hydrator. This super ingredient replenishes the skin’s moisture barrier and keeps skin looking healthy,” she adds.

In addition to being applied topically, sea moss can also be ingested. “You can take it as a supplement, or use it as a topping in its raw form in salads or bowls,” Dr. Heussner says. The most important factor is making sure the sea moss you take is not bleached or mixed with additives. “Look for moss that has been dried in the sun, or consume it raw by rinsing thoroughly to remove any debris and soak in water to soften and expand the plant,” she adds.

The tastiest way to get your sea moss fix? A smoothie. To DIY the sea moss gel found in Hailey Beiber’s TikTok-famous superfood smoothie available at Erewhon health food stores, place washed raw sea moss into a blender and blitz until smooth. And don’t waste a drop—according to Dr. Heussner, “the gel could be stored in the refrigerator and used as a thickening agent in soups, stews, sauces or even as a substitute for eggs in vegan recipes.”  

How much should you have?  

Listen to your body, according to Dr. Heussner. How you consume sea moss varies as well, depending on your personal preferences, however it’s recommended to have 1-2 tablespoons of sea moss gel a day. She also recommends consulting with a healthcare professional or nutritionist to provide personalized advice based on your specific health goals and dietary requirements. 

It is important to note that sea moss also picks up chemicals like mercury from the seawater, so as with any supplement, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional before diving in. 

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Murad, and are for informational purposes only, even if the advice of physicians and medical practitioners are included. This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should not be considered specific medical advice.  

References for this information:

Cleveland Clinic, Nutrition
Marine Drugs, 2021, volume 19, issue 6
Frontiers in Physiology, 2018
Biology of Reproduction, 2021, volume 104, issue 5, pages 976-994

About the Author

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Ramona Saviss is a freelance journalist based in Los Angeles. She has worked as an editor at Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Time Out Los Angeles, Los Angeles Confidential, and Angeleno. When she’s not writing, you can find Ramona either traveling or planning her next adventure.