Marine algae are considered to be an abundant source of bioactive compounds with cosmeceutical potential. Recently, a great deal of interest has focused on the health-promoting effects of marine bioactive compounds

Carbohydrates are the significant and abundant constituent of marine algae and have been utilized in cosmetic formulations, as moisturizing and thickening agents for example. 

Also, marine carbohydrates have been suggested as promising bioactive biomaterials for their various properties beneficial to skin, including antioxidant, anti-melanogenic and skin anti-aging properties. 

Therefore, marine algae carbohydrates have potential skin health benefits for value-added cosmeceutical applications. The present review focuses on the various biological capacities and potential skin health benefits of bioactive marine polysaccharides.

Cosmeceuticals

Cosmeceuticals can be defined as cosmetic products with biologically active ingredients purporting to exert pharmaceutical effects on the skin. Recently, considerable interest has been shown by consumers in novel bioactive compounds from natural sources, instead of synthetic ingredients, thanks to their perceived beneficial effects. 

Therefore, there are numerous efforts to develop biologically active ingredients from natural organisms. Most studies have been based on terrestrial sources; however, it has been shown that natural compounds isolated from marine sources show higher biological activity than those isolated from terrestrial sources, and as a result, there is a lot of interest in the studies of ingredients using natural marine causes. 

In particular, oceans account for about 70% of the earth’s surface, and their biodiversity makes them an excellent reservoir of sources for natural products. Among various natural organisms, marine algae, which grow much faster than terrestrial plants, are considered to be abundant and essential sources of numerous constituents beneficial for human skin health.

In this review, we have presented evidence that various biological activities of marine algae extracts and marine algal carbohydrates act as novel cosmeceuticals. Marine algae extracts and polysaccharides were categorized by source (species), structural parameters, bioactive functions, and mechanism. 

Numerous in vitro and in vivo studies showed that marine algae extracts and algal carbohydrates showed various biological activities against skin disorders including hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, dry skin disorders, skin inflammation, and skin cancer. 

However, although diverse biological activities of marine carbohydrates have been determined, their detailed molecular mechanisms and target proteins are not fully understood. Therefore, further investigations to elicit the precise molecular basis for the biological activity of marine algal compounds should be undertaken.