With the sheer amount of complex compounds used in cosmeceuticals today, it can be hard to keep up with what each ingredient is and what it does. Astaxanthin is one of those many ingredients that gets lost in the sea of scientific jargon on the back of our product bottles. That’s why this ingredient spotlight is here to break down what Astaxanthin is, how it’s used, and how it will help your skin.
What is Astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is a type of carotenoid derived from marine plants and animals. Most commonly found and derived from plants, algae, or seaweed. It can also be found lobsters, shrimp, crabs, crayfish, and trout, giving them some of their red/orange hue. This compound is classified as an antioxidant or also a pigment. Carotenoids are derived from plants and animals with chemical compositions similar to carotene, and these substances create vibrant red, yellow, and orange pigments when used for dye or cosmetics. Among Astaxanthin, both Alpha and Beta Carotene are carotenoids.
In skincare, carotenoids are valued for their powerful, natural antioxidant properties. Astaxanthin is also sold as an oral health supplement alongside Alpha and Beta Carotene. With its many benefits in heart health, cancer research, and potentially relieving joint pain, Astaxanthin is what makes superfoods like salmon or carrots ‘super’.
As mentioned above, Astaxanthin has plenty of benefits for our skin. The compound is known for improving the integrity of the skin barrier and cell membranes, which reinforces our bodies’ defenses from the outside.
As an antioxidant, Astaxanthin benefits the skin by reducing inflammation and redness, particularly from the presence of oxygen free radicals. These oxygen free radicals wear away at the skin’s protective barrier, making it more susceptible to damage from the sun, weather, and other aspects of everyday life. When applied topically, Astaxanthin reduces the number of free radicals in the skin by bonding with them, reducing redness and swelling.
Reduce Signs of Aging
In addition to reducing redness and inflammation, Astaxanthin also reduces stress in the skin caused by the sun’s UVB rays. Minimizing the effects of oxygen free radicals can also reduce signs of aging. Human trials involving the compound have applied its antioxidant properties to treat chronic illnesses primarily caused by age. So far, studies regarding Astaxanthin treatment for arthritis, carpal tunnel, and skin conditions like Atopic Dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema.
Use in Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetics
We’ve already established that astaxanthin has many uses in medicine as a dietary supplement and in cosmetics, but what is it used for today?
Along with many other antioxidants, astaxanthin may also appear in your anti-inflammatory lotions, creams, or scrubs. Just like other antioxidants, the compound’s ability to reduce the number of oxygen free radicals in the skin makes it excellent for a soothing cleanse. In addition, the product’s ability to reinforce the skin barrier and cell membranes makes it a good option for increasing skin moisture and elasticity.
By increasing skin elasticity, astaxanthin can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, as well as reduce the appearance of age spots and sun spots. While often used in anti-aging creams, astaxanthin does not reverse how your skin ages. Instead, it reduces stress, so it ages slowly. Astaxanthin can, however, repair minimal skin damage caused by the sun’s UVB rays
Typically, you’ll find astaxanthin in cosmetic products as a natural source of red pigment. Red used in blushes, lipsticks, and other makeup products comes from various sources, and astaxanthin is one of the many names you’ll find on the back of your product label today.
Is Astaxanthin Vegan?
Astaxanthin is a naturally-occurring compound which is often derived from a variety of sources, including fish, shellfish, seaweed, microbacteria, and algae. In skincare products, Astaxanthin is almost exclusively vegan, as it is often derived from microalgae H. Pluvialis, or synthesized by laboratory technicians. In fact, at Hale Cosmeceuticals, our Astaxanthin is entirely vegan as it is sourced directly from algae and also processed entirely in the USA. However, if you’re curious about where a product sources its ingredients, look to the company directly– many vegan cosmetics and cosmeceutical companies will tell you where their ingredients come from.