Agar agar is a powder made from the mucilage of a species of seaweed known as agarophytes. It softens and moisturises skin and hair and is incredibly rich in nutrients, such as iron and magnesium.
Agarophytes have a tufted appearance from their fine fronds and their colours vary from pinks to deep reds and purples, camouflaging their chlorophyll content. To make agar agar, the seaweeds are collected and laid out on a beach to dry. They are then boiled in water to release the jelly, which is filtered, dried and prepared into bars, flakes or fine granules.
As well as being highly moisturising and softening for the hair and skin, agar agar acts as a binding agent in products, helping to create a thicker, well blended texture.
It is also used in the food industry as a plant-based alternative to gelatine. Not only being cruelty-free, it works even better in some cases, like with papaya, pineapple and kiwis. These fruits contain proteolytic enzymes that break down protein molecules in most gelatines and gelatine substitutes, preventing them from jellying – doesn’t work with the seaweed!