Seaweed for sun care: Asia opportunities abound for upcycled natural ingredients - Carbonwave

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

[Getty Images]
[Getty Images]

Related tags Sun care UV protection Sunscreen upcycling

Demand for more natural sun care formulations in Asia is growing, claims US firm Carbonwave, which is hoping to find success with its upcycled seaweed-based emulsifier.

In an era of increasing awareness about the environmental impact of personal care products, the market is seeing a surge in demand for natural sun care alternatives.

Against this backdrop, Carbonwave believes its seaweed-based cosmetic emulsifier could be a crucial component to help formulators develop sun care products that are not only natural, but effective and sensorially beautiful.

“Companies are looking to develop more natural products. This would be a perfect story for a natural sunscreen; imagine using a product on the beach with ingredients that come from the ocean. People want to protect their skin, but they want to do it in a way that doesn't hurt the environment,”​ said Alie White, associate director, business development, APAC, Carbonwave.

According to the firm, its broad-spectrum natural cosmetic emulsifier, SeaBalance 2000, has been gaining traction in Asia as a natural alternative for sun care formulations.

“We have a lot of companies working on sunscreens. In South East Asia, one of our distributors has created a beautiful SPF [with SeaBalance 2000]. We are very excited because we know that especially in Asia, you need to have very specific sunscreens,”​ said White.

SeaBalance 2000 is compatible with many ultraviolet (UV) filters, including mineral filters such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

In addition to being a natural alternative, it can produce sophisticated textures to cater to Asian consumers’ high sensorial expectations.

“A great thing about SeaBalance is that it gives such an incredible skin feel. This is super important especially when you’re talking about sun care. It allows you to get all these beautiful fluid textures with silkiness and smoothness. People have actually told us they feel like it almost feels like there's silicone in the product but there’s none,” ​said White.

While titanium dioxide and zinc oxide have risen in popularity among consumers as the perceived safer and more environmentally friendly options, sunscreen white cast is still a major issue consumers deal with.

According to the White, the natural emulsifier can help reduce the effect of the white cast.

“In some of the studies that we have done, it helps with removing that whitening effect because it allows the ingredients to disperse easier.”

Furthermore, recent studies on SeaBalance have found to boost moisturisation and reduce transepidermal water loss (TEWL), which is crucial in sun care.

Mitigating a seaweed crisis

SeaBalance 2000 is derived from sargassum seaweed.

In the past 12 years, warming ocean temperatures and increased fertiliser and pollution runoff have triggered the rapid growth of sargassum seaweed in the Caribbean.

Known as the great Atlantic Sargassum belt, this yearly bloom poses a suffocating threat spanning from West Africa to the Gulf of Mexico.

These swaths of seaweed clog up bays and beaches, threaten tourism, and harm the local ecology. Furthermore, as seaweed decomposes and releases vast amounts of methane, it increases the pace of global warming.

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