Phycocyanin as a Natural Pigment: Leveraging Its Skin Benefits in Cosmetics 

Thursday December 07, 2023

People choose cosmetic product attracted by its function and color

When choosing cosmetic products, stylish women are not only attracted by product features and brands, the appearance of the products, especially, the color plays a very crucial role in people’s selection process. Color is believed to be the primary element seen by the senses, and it has played an important part in consumers’ acceptance for millennia in order to improve their actual appearance and quality.

The spirulina extract, particularly phycocyanin has been proposed as a promising source of pigments for skin benefit cosmetic uses. No more than ten enterprises worldwide have patents to industrially extract phycocyanin from spirulina, Binmei is one of them and has 9 different patents about phycocyanin.  Phycocyanin has been optimized in the past few years in terms of production, extraction, and application of pigment extracts.

Photosynthetic organisms such as cyanobacteria, microalgae, macroalgae, and plants can synthesize a wide range of light-absorbing compounds. Pigments are molecules that can absorb light in the visible spectrum, resulting in a colour reflection visible to the human eye. Natural pigments have an important function not only for these organisms (which cannot survive or produce energy without them), but also for the environment (as oxygen and biomass primary producers), and for society (since these species have been utilized as colorants for millennia). More recently, the push towards clean label products, sustainability, and environmental awareness has resulted in a shift in industry expectations, as well as the rescue of hitherto known natural pigment sources that may be used to replace synthetic colorants. Spirulina is a type of cyanobacteria, Unlike other algae, spirulina can be farmed, Binmei Phycocyanin, as a natural blue colorant, comes from spirulina algae cultivated in the Inner Mongolia Plateau, Binmei Phycoycanin contains protein content as high as 65%-72%, ncorporating phycocyanin into cosmetics can provide numerous nutritional skin benefits.

Natural ingredients have been used for skin benefit cosmetic reasons since before the notion of cosmetics, and they have long been prepared from mineral materials, herbal pastes, and oils. With the concept of cosmeceuticals, the use of phycocyanin as a source of components has even more potential skin benefits due to its diverse range of produced compounds. Fatty acids, polyphenols, peptides, polysaccharides, and pigments are examples with clearly delineated potential for health uses that can be found.

When it comes to cyanobacterial pigments, such as carotenoids and phycocyanin, it is possible to combine their bioactive capacity, varied colors, and cosmetic enhancement characteristics (e.g., moisturizer, stabilizing agents) to pique the interest of the natural cosmetics industry, which typically apply these compounds in the form of extracts.

Phycocyanin benefits skin and hair

Because of their highly efficient antioxidant capability, carotenoids can be found in sunscreens, anti-aging, and antioxidant compositions. Inside cyanobacteria cells, these compounds are in charge of collecting exceeded energy from photosynthetic metabolism, preventing detrimental consequences and cell damage, and can be isolated and employed for a similar purpose in human skin, where extended exposure to sunlight (UV radiation and high light intensity) can cause cell damage.

Phycocyanin can be used in a similar way as functional additives because it has been linked to a number of bioactivities, including antioxidants, antivirals, antimicrobials, and anti-cancers, among others. These compounds can also be utilized as natural colors to reduce skin toxicity and damage, as well as allergies to synthetic dyes. Because of their water solubility, these blue hydrophilic pigments can be used in skincare products, particularly serum, and lotions. Phycocyanin has a lot of benefits in skincare, for example: antioxidants, and retaining moisture, Phycocyanin offers photoprotective benefits, helping to mitigate the harmful effects of UV rays on the skin.

Pigments from microalgae and cyanobacteria are known for several bio-activities, especially phycocyanin as natural colorant features and vibrant colors have increased market interest in recent years. These pigments have already been seen as skin tonics, with a capacity for skin protection benefits and prevention and slow-down of skin-associated disorders, due to their recognized antioxidant, anti-inflammatory,anti-aging,antitumoral, and photoprotector activity.

Phycocyanin stands out as a sustainable bioactive colorant with health-promoting properties, and an important active ingredient of natural skin benefits cosmetics products. Currently, phycocyanin has been incorporated in topical skin-care formulations, such as moisturizing, anti-wrinkles, antiaging, and antiacne agents. Furthermore, phycocyanin is used by cosmetic formulators to promote healthy sunscreen protection, treat skin pigmentation disorders, and heal wounds. Most of commercial cosmetics claim a large range of phycocyanin skin benefits properties, including antioxidant, revitalizing, remineralizing, moisturizing, protecting alongside cleansing and shining action, both for hair and for skin. In this review, recent cosmetic applications of phycocyanin are revised, by highlighting its ability in improving skin appearance and health.

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