Spirulina is fabulous. I know because I've been using it regularly as an ingredient in my morning face cleanser for about half a year.
Although mostly tested and used as a food supplement, spirulina also has a lot to offer with topical use.
Let's take a closer look at the dark green powder that many have been raving about.
What is That Green Stuff?Spirulina is a microscopic, blue-green algae. It is made from 2 types of cyanobacterium: Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima.
Spirulina is cultivated for use as food supplement because, among other things, it is a complete protein (read: it contains all the amino acids).
It's also rich in gamma linolenic acid (also known as GLA), is jam-packed with vitamins such as B1, B2, B3, B6, and B9, vitamins A, E and C, and a slew of trace metals.
Despite all this goodness, the only documentation I have been able to find about spirulina with internal use is that 'it causes no adverse effects'. This is of course positive, but I was really expecting to find study after study of spirulina curing ailments and providing a veritable fountain of youth to all who used it.
Nonetheless, Spirulina is hailed as a superfood and as a beneficial health supplement. It was for example, used to provide nutrients to the American astronauts while out in space.
Studies on spirulina are ongoing (and have been for years), but, as the US National Institutes of Health conclude:
" at present there is insufficient scientific evidence to recommend spirulina supplementation for any human condition, and more research is needed to clarify its benefits, if any." (link)
As for Topical UseIf you follow the 'if A, then B' line of logic, the many proteins and nutrients spirulina contains naturally gives it the ability to protect the collagen and enhance the skins elastin. For skin care, it is listed as an anti-aging ingredient.
One of my suppliers – French company Aroma Zone – write that their spirulina is not heat processed in any way, which helps it maintain the maximum of nutrients.
As much goodness as spirulina promises, the recommended topical uses for it all involve temporary use such as masks, wraps, hair treatments, and other spa-related treatments. It is not really used as an addition to leave-on products such as creams or moisturizers.
As to how it has behaved in my morning cleanser, there are some cons, but there are certainly many pros.
Here are my collected impressions.
Topical Use: Pros
- The feel of this product is truly silky and luxurious. It must be due to the spirulina, which is the only ingredient that differs from this cleanser and my other oat and clay cleanser.
- Because of the intense color, there is never any doubt about whether or not the product is completely rinsed off.
- Despite the intense color, it rinses off easily and doesn't stain sinks, tiles etc.
- After cleansing, my skin feels so 'nourished', I will often forget to use a day cream.
Topical Use: Cons
- The color is so dark, it's almost black – and that takes some getting used to. Not a lot of people could look at the contents of the jar above and associate it with cleansing. It even took me a bit of time. I mean seriously - look at my green monster face!
- Because of the intense color, it takes a lot of rinsing to remove the product completely (which almost could count as a pro if you think about it). I have found it best to apply this cleanser before stepping into a shower where subsequent serious rinsing can take place.
ConclusionAfter many batches and alternating between other clay & butter cleansers and cleansing bars, I still rush to make a new batch when I start running low on my spirulina cleanser.
In short, it's doing something right for my skin.
More About SpirulinaAs astronaut food (Quantumday)
As a Dietary supplement (wikipedia)
About possible uses (WebMD)
What studies suggest (U of Maryland Medical Center)
Spirulina in Clinical Practice (Hindawi Publishing)