Antioxidants – substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals – are popular additives to skin care and other cosmetic formulations.
There are many sources of antioxidants, which are frequently found in superfoods. But the naturally-occurring pigment astaxanthin, which can be obtained from certain photosynthetic organisms, is nature's most powerful antioxidant.
Sandra Gut, Technical Sales & Laboratory Manager Cosmetics, Rahn (UK), reveals more about this pink-coloured powerhouse.
Astaxanthin is a naturally-occurring pigment that gives the reddish colour to marine organisms such as crabs, shrimp and salmon.Chemically, astaxanthin belongs to the oil-soluble carotenoid group, specifically to the xanthophylls. In natural surroundings, it can be found in photosynthetic organisms like bacteria, algae and yeasts.
The highest concentrations of natural astaxanthin can be accumulated from the freshwater microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis. When the algae is stressed by a lack of nutrients, increased salinity, or excessive sunshine, it produces astaxanthin. This is usually accompanied by the transformation of ovoid green vegetative cells into red cysts, due to the increased carotenoid deposition (figure 1).