What is Irish Moss? The sea’s cure for dry skin.

Meet Irish Moss: the seaweed that soothes, balances, and moisturizes

irish moss on beach

Straight from the Celtic shores to your bathroom cabinet comes another one of nature’s little treasures. It’s a fluffy, spiny-looking seaweed that attaches to sea rocks in the cold waters of Ireland and throughout the UK. Irish Moss, or
Chondrus crispus if we’re getting technical, has several skincare secrets hidden within its slithery tendrils. But first, let’s start with the basics. 


Irish Moss is a type of red algae, sometimes referred to as carrageenan. It’s long been a popular additive in foods because of its gelling and thickening properties. In skincare, it functions as a natural, plant-based emulsifier that helps products maintain their consistency and stability throughout their shelf-life. 


Keeps skin moisturized 

Irish Moss works as an emollient. When it’s applied to the skin, it creates a protective layer that keeps moisture locked in. Our Balancing Milky Cleanser with Irish Moss cleans and purifies while also holding onto the moisture you’re adding through the cleansing process. Since Irish Moss is a water-binding agent, it helps hold applied moisture in the skin, thus increasing hydration.

Provides added vitamins and minerals 

Vitamins and minerals are vital to the maintenance of healthy skin. Irish Moss contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, sulfur (helpful for skin conditions like acne and rosacea), carotenoids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. It also includes vitamin A and vitamin E, two excellent sources of antioxidants.  

Balances your skin microbiome

Acne sufferers, listen up. The high sulfur content of Irish Moss has a few added benefits for you. First, it has antibacterial, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties. This trifecta is recognized as helpful for balancing the skin microbiome. The sulfur levels also help decrease the production of sebum, helping to control breakouts before they start. The antibacterial properties further reduce the occurrence and severity of breakouts for those who suffer from flare-ups.  

Protects against UV rays

Irish Moss has been a key ingredient in sunscreen for decades now, primarily for its ability to help bind and stabilize a number of ingredients into a consistent product. Now, recent studies show that it’s far more beneficial in terms of UV protection than we previously realized. It offers amino acids (MAAs), sulfated polysaccharides, carotenoids, and polyphenols. Together, these exhibit beneficial antioxidant, matrix-metalloproteinase inhibitor, anti-aging, and immunomodulatory functions.  


girl wearing moisturizer

Applied topically, it’s safe to use and very effective as a moisturizer. There’s debate rumbling, however, about its use in food. It’s been a common ingredient for decades in yogurt, non-dairy milk, and ice cream. This is because it functions as a stabilizer and helps achieve the desired consistency of creamy foods and beverages. Ingesting carrageenan in foods has come under controversy in recent years due to potential links to inflammatory bowel disorders like IBS. 

Fortunately, this isn’t a concern when it’s applied to the skin. The studies reference a specific type of “degraded” carrageenan that was popular in the 1960s.  Basically, the natural product was manipulated in order to decrease the molecular structure, making it more pleasant to consume for medicinal purposes like peptic ulcers. The molecular weight of natural carrageenan is too heavy to penetrate through the dermis, so it can’t get past the skin barrier and enter the body, your gut, or your bloodstream. Degraded carrageenan is no longer permitted for use.

If you’re ready for an ultra-hydrating cleansing experience that boasts benefits beyond simply feeling clean, then adding Irish Moss to your skincare routine is a wise move. Not only does our Balancing Milky Cleanser help your skin feel soft, smooth, and clean, but it helps retain the moisture you have while slurping up extra water molecules and holding them in. Not only is that a win for cleanliness, but it’s a nourishing, creamy, hydrating way to start and end the day.