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Seaweed making a splash in beauty products this summer

Seaweed has washed up as one of summer's trendiest ingredients in beauty, skin and hair-care products.

Touted for ages for its healing and cleansing properties and used widely in salon and spa treatments, seaweed has made its way into shampoos, face washes, makeup and anti-cellulite products that can be bought at drugstores and mass-retail outlets.

"You will find all three major groups of seaweed represented in modern health and beauty products in the marketplace today -- red, green and brown," said Valerie Gennari Cooksley, the Houston-area author of "Seaweed: Nature's Secret to Balancing Your Metabolism, Fighting Disease, and Revitalizing Body and Soul" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $16.95), released in May. These are some seaweed-infused products we've found recently:

Bliss Serious Seaweed Cellulite Soap ($14, Sephora; www.blissworld.com; Amazon.com) claims that seaweed extracts help to slim, tone and fight cellulite. (The directions say it helps if you click your heels together and repeat, "I want to have tone, I want to have tone.")

Spa Aquatique Purifying Seaweed Serum ($30, Walgreens) contains Laminaria Glycolic Extract, a brown seaweed, as an aid to reduce sebum (oil) secretion.

Bumble and Bumble Bb. Seaweed Conditioner ($15, www.bumbleandbumble.com; Amazon.com) is made with kelp extract, spirulina (a protein-rich freshwater alga) and seaweed extract to soften hair, treat the scalp and add shine.

Freeman Sea Kelp Moisture Shampoo ($3.99, Ulta) hydrates and nourishes hair with the help of sea kelp and guava extracts.

Red Water Anti-cellulite Gel ($35, Walgreens) lists bladderwrack (brown seaweed), widely used for its slimming and toning benefits, in its ingredients. Claims to rejuvenate and improve skin's texture.

Sue Devitt Triple Seaweed Gel Foundation ($38, FaceLogic spas; www.suedevittstudio.com; Amazon.com) is an oil-free, lightweight foundation made up of 70 percent water and three types of organic seaweed.

Nivea for Men Oil Control Face Wash (about $4, CVS and Kroger) is a foaming gel enriched with marine plant extracts (bladderwrack) and vitamins that help control oil and balance the skin.

The Body Shop seaweed kit ($27, The Body Shop) contains a Deep Cleansing Facial Wash, Clarifying Toner and Mattifying Day Cream, all made with Community Trade seaweed (specifically, bladderwrack) to control oil without drying the face.

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WHAT'S IN YOUR PRODUCT?

The types of seaweed you'll find most often in beauty, skin and hair-care products are:

- Brown seaweed species, like kelp and bladderwrack, common in products that claim to cleanse, flush out toxins and control cellulite.

- Irish moss and red-seaweed gel extracts, used as a binder for hand creams, body lotions, cosmetics and shampoos.

- Sea lettuce, a green seaweed, common in products that stimulate collagen and elastin and regenerate aged skin.

Look for these ingredients in your beauty-care products to determine if they contain the properties of seaweed: algae extract, algin, alginate or alginic acid; carrageenan, fucogel, macroalgae, marine collagen, micronized algae, photosomes, phytelene complex, RMA (red marine algae) and sea mineral complex.

Source: "Seaweed: Nature's Secret to Balancing Your Metabolism, Fighting Disease, and Revitalizing Body and Soul"

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