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Marine cosmetics have emerged as a beacon of sustainability within the cosmetic industry, offering a unique approach to beauty products while promoting the preservation of our oceans. By delving into the intersection between marine and upcycled ingredients, we can unlock the potential to not only address the environmental challenges caused by greenhouse gasses, but also tackle specific issues such as the Sargassum Bloom. 

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Embracing the sea: The benefits of marine ingredients

Derived from the vast resources of our oceans, marine ingredients hold potential in promoting sustainability within the cosmetic industry. By harnessing the power of marine ecosystems, these ingredients offer a unique and environmentally-friendly approach to beauty products. They encompass a wide range of natural substances from marine organisms, such as seaweeds, algae, and sea minerals. These components are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other bioactive compounds, making them valuable assets in skincare and beauty formulation. 

Did you know that microalgae have gained attention for their remarkable properties and benefits for the skin? Microalgae are tiny, single-celled organisms found in marine environments, offering a nutrient-rich composition, antioxidant and anti-aging properties, hydration, and skin brightening. Explore microalgae on Covalo here.

Unlike land-based resources, marine ecosystems posses an exceptional ability to replenish themselves, ensuring a renewable source of raw materials. Moreover, the extraction of marine ingredients often involves minimal environmental impact, as sustainable harvesting methods and careful cultivation practices are employed. By utilizing these ingredients, cosmetic companies can reduce their reliance on non-renewable resources and contribute to the preservation of terrestrial ecosystems. 

Despite their numerous benefits for the skin, certain seaweeds can cause ecological problems. During one of our webinars, Dr. Ben Jelen, environmental scientist and molecular biologist, explained that the seaweed Sargassum wreaks havoc on local ecology as it comes into shore and blocks the sunlight from penetrating the water. "It decimates seagrass beds. Coral reefs are already under threat, and Sargassum worsens the situation. When Sargassum washes ashore and starts to rot, it creates anoxic zones¹ that kill organisms." Not to mention the greenhouse gasses that are released when the matter begins to rot. 

The University of South Florida reported that the total Sargassum amount increased from ~1.7 million tons in December 2021 to ~4.0 million metric tons in January 2022², meaning we have a major problem on hands. 

In that same webinar, Jeff Yeh, Vice President of Personal Care at Carbonwave shed light on the alarming growth rate of Sargassum, fueled by the warming oceans and nutrient-rich environments. For the founders of Carbonwave, this rapid expansion intensified the urgency to find a solution.

From problem to solution: Can Sargassum become the answer we need?

Amidst the ecological crisis posed by Sargassum, a remarkable opportunity arises — regenerative upcycling, a practice that converts waste materials into valuable resources.

Recognizing this potential, Carbonwave has harnessed Sargassum as the foundation for their emulsifier SeaBalance 2000. Employing a patented gentle extraction process, Carbonwave collects the seaweed as it lands on the beach. They are currently researching collection methods in the ocean to safeguard ecosystems and economies as well.

Valerie George, founder of Simply Formulas and Simply Ingredients, and an active contributor in the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, highlighted the significance of this innovation in the above mentioned webinar. She mentioned that this is the first time anyone has attempted to extract Sargassum for this purpose, making SeaBalance 2000 the first seaweed-based emulsifier of its kind. Notably, almost every portion of the Sargassum is used in the extraction process, resulting in minimal waste.

SeaBalance 2000 is created by combining Sargassum with complementary ingredients such as xanthan gum for stabilization and pentylene glycol for preservation. One of its remarkable features is its versatility, as it can be used in both hot and cold processes, the latter enabling energy savings during formulation. George expressed her admiration for the product's flexibility, noting its stability compared to other emulsifiers. She mentioned, "You can create beautiful thickened creams to demonstrate different textures. If you want to keep your product stabilized and suspended, SeaBalance 2000 is good at getting you started. It has synergies with lots of other beauty ingredients."

Seabalance 2000 (1)

With SeaBalance 2000, Carbonwave extends an invitation to the beauty industry, urging stakeholders to ride the wave of change. Together, conscious choices and groundbreaking solutions have the power to revolutionize the beauty landscape, one upcycled ingredient at a time. 

¹ Anoxic zones refer to areas within aquatic environments, such as oceans, lakes, or rivers, where the dissolved oxygen levels are extremely low or completely depleted. In these zones, the oxygen concentration is insufficient to support most forms of animal life that require oxygen for respiration.
² Outlook of 2022 Sargassum blooms in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, January 2022, University of South Florida Optical Oceanography Lab

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