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Astaxanthin: How Much is Enough, and How Much is Too Much?

Astaxanthin: How Much is Enough, and How Much is Too Much?

Posted by Brendan Leonard on May 10th 2022

We all know the cycle by now: when a new skincare product drops, its activity is going to be promoted around the ingredient that supposedly makes it work.

Overall, this is a good thing. This is the kind of positive social change that Skin Actives Scientific has been working towards for over a decade. An informed public is a public better prepared to make healthy choices as consumers. And that’s an overall good that we can get behind.

Now, at Skin Actives, when we formulate a product, you can rest assured that that formulation is designed with your health and well-being in mind. First, we only use active ingredients that we know will benefit your skin. How do we know? All of the active ingredients in our products have been proven time and time again in academic papers at the highest level. Our science is vetted and we refuse to compromise on that.

Next, we formulate so that the amount of active your skin is receiving is enough that there is a beneficial interaction. Not everyone does this! Sometimes companies like to just put a microscopic amount of an active into a product, so that they can slap the name on the front and get you to buy the science, without selling you the results. So not only does Skin Actives promise that our products work the way we say they will, we promise the maximum benefit available.

Lastly, we manufacture products that won’t hurt you. Now, of course everyone’s skin is different and we can’t speak to every individual’s experience. But based on the best science available, our products are designed to give you maximum results without hurting your skin. More is not always better!

This is the perfect golden mean; enough that it will work, enough that you can gain the most benefit from it, but not so much that it will hurt you. If only everything were so easy!

But how do you know when enough is enough? Or when more is too much?

We get these questions a lot at Skin Actives, and today we’ll work with you to demystify one of the world’s most potent antioxidants: astaxanthin. Read on.

What is Astaxanthin?

You may have heard of astaxanthin (pronounced: asta-zan-thin), it’s in many of Skin Actives most beloved products!

While many companies forgo basing their product around astaxanthin, it’s known for its unbelievably potent antioxidant properties. In fact, one skincare company out of Japan touts astaxanthin potency that is  “6000 times more powerful than vitamin C”. 

But what is astaxanthin? 

To begin, astaxanthin is a keto-carotenoid. 

Keto-carotenoids are a specific type of carotenoid, which is a pigment found in some plants, algae, and even bacteria. Carotenoids usually have an orange, yellow, or red color and are fat soluble, meaning soluble in oil for our purposes. Keto-carotenoids specifically are known for preventing carcinogenesis, which is the process by which a normal cell is converted into a cancer cell.

While Astaxanthin occurs naturally in both yeast and algae, today we’re going to focus on the type that comes from algae as this is what you’ll find in Skin Actives' formulations.

Naturally occurring astaxanthin is produced by algae that is then consumed by fish. This astaxanthin is red in color. This red hue can then be found in the flesh of the fish that eat the algae, specifically some popular favorites such as lobsters, salmon, and shrimp, among others. This is where you normally receive a lot of the health benefits associated with astaxanthin, from consuming seafood, which transfers the active’s potency on to you.

Astaxanthin Skin Benefits

Astaxanthin has a lot of potential benefits for your skin’s health. In fact, it covers a wide range of basics at a high level. What can astaxanthin do for you? As our Founder, Dr. Hannah Sivak puts it:

Why do plants have so many antioxidants? Because, however different from us, plants use oxygen, and their metabolism produces ROS* (reactive oxygen species) just like us. They also live in an environment where ROS* are present. Just like we do. Let’s use their antioxidants, so varied and effective, they will delay skin aging and help reverse the effect of ROS* and UV reaching our skin.”

So, from astaxanthin you can expect:

1.) Free Radical Protection - The antioxidant power of astaxanthin works to scour free radicals from your cells after they have entered your skin. This is a key cornerstone of the Theory of Physical Aging. Working against free radical damage in your skin will not only improve thickness and malleability, but reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well.

2.) Protection From UV Damage - Much like lobsters or shimp, we tend to store the astaxanthin we eat in our skin. Fighting outside sources of oxidation before they do damage is a critical part of skincare. Astaxanthin has been shown to have photoprotective qualities, stopping UV damage to your skin before it happens. Keep in mind: astaxanthin is not a substitute for good sunscreen applied often, but both will work better together. 

3.) Inflammation Reduction - A well documented side-effect of increased UV exposure is heightened inflammation. Reducing UV will also help reduce inflammation experienced in the skin.

Things to be aware of: You’ll never have to worry about the astaxanthin we use here at Skin Actives Scientific. We source ours from Haematococcus pluvialis algae from Hawaii so you don’t have to worry about shellfish allergies. But if a company is sourcing theirs from shellfish, astaxanthin could trigger an allergic reaction.

How Much Astaxanthin Should I Use?

There is a downside of astaxanthin: it is at the end of the day a pigment, and thus, it can and will stain your clothes and skin! 

Fortunately, because it’s so potent, you don’t need much. Our Customer Service expert, Rachel, sometimes fields questions from people asking how much they should use, and she hears people throwing around some really high numbers. 

This is probably because people’s idea of how much astaxanthin they need is created by oral supplements. But these numbers are way too high for topical application. To clear the air around this, we turned again to Dr. Sivak:

We hear a lot about astaxanthin and Skin Actives offers it in many of our products and also for DIY enthusiasts. Our astaxanthin can increase the active value of your ‘potions’. We don’t sell pure astaxanthin, even at 5% concentration it’s very viscous, and ‘smelly’ and will stain your clothes and skin. We sell it diluted with lovely argan oil, at a concentration that even when you use a few drops, will be active. You will love the color that your lotions and creams will take, and just think of it ‘catching’ and disarming ROS* reaching your skin. Using astaxanthin concentrate or Antiox booster from Skin Actives you are using the best antioxidants that the Plant Kingdom can offer. Enjoy!”

In order to make the most of your DIY Astaxanthin, just add a couple of drops (2-3) to your favorite base cream and mix in gently. Your cream shouldn’t become more than a nice pale pink, anything more and you’re using too much.

If you’d like to hear more from Dr. Sivak, check out her personal blog where she keeps us up to date on trends in the skincare industry.

So there you have it, Skin Actives Family. We hope that the next time you hear about an astaxanthin cream that boasts 5-10% astaxanthin you’ll look at that a little differently. Thanks for joining us one more time at the Skin Actives blog. We’ll be back again with more content for you, this Friday. See you then and have a great week!