What it is: Any number of multicellular marine plants (or ocean vegetables); the most complex form of algae; there are thought to be more than 20,000 species of seaweed.

Where it comes from: Seaweed comes from various locations, including the coast of France, Ireland, and the British Isles and is only harvested at certain times of the year when the seaweed has a high mineral content.

Properties: Seaweed holds the powerful ingredients of seawater in a concentrated form that is highly compatible with human plasma. Seaweed is rich in vitamins and minerals, including A1, B1, B2, B6, C, E, K, folic acid, niacin, potassium, calcium, iodine, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc. Many of these vitamins, minerals, and trace elements are essential to the proliferation of healthy skin cells.

What it’s good for: Seaweed helps defend the skin against aging, protects against UV radiation, moisturizes, and treats acne. Vitamin A (beta carotene/retinol) and vitamin C work together in maintaining collagen, a protein necessary for the formation of connective tissue in the skin. When applied topically, seaweed draws toxins from the body while releasing nutrients into the skin. Many skin care products are commonly infused with green, red, and brown algae. Green seaweed is believed to increase collagen and elastin production. Used in moisturizers, beauty, and shampoo products, red algae extract works as a binder. And brown algae are said to cleanse and control cellulite. The phytonutrients present in seaweed also help increase blood flow at the surface of the skin, making it supple, smooth, and radiant.

Where you’ll find it: It is often used in cleansers, toners, moisturizers, and masks. Look for the following ingredients to ensure the product is infused with seaweed: algae extract, algin, alginate or alginic acid, carageenan, fucogel, macroalgae, marine collagen, micronized algae, photosomes, phytelene complex, RMA or red marine algae and sea mineral complex.

Other uses: It is a staple in many Asian households as a vegetable. Seaweed can help to regulate blood pressure and water balance in our bodies. It can also help with weight loss and removing toxins from the body.