Making skincare products from seaweed



When Matthew and I were beginning to look at starting Macro Oceans, one of the things that got me interested in the opportunity was the mystery of it: if seaweed is so chemically rich and so easy to grow, why isn't it used for more things?

As we dug deeper into this question, I became convinced that there aren't fundamental reasons why seaweed can't be used for more things; instead, someone had to come along and make it happen.

While there have been many setbacks, false starts, and complexities over the past three years, I haven't seen anything that has changed my mind about this. Seaweed does have natural assets and it should be used for more things.

Today we announced the launch of our first product, Hydrating Marine Polysaccharides, which is our first contribution making this happen.

Hydrating Marine Polysaccharides is a bio active cosmetic ingredient, which means it's the thing that makes a skincare or haircare product make your skin feel better or hair look better. It has proven hydrating properties and a true clean beauty profile: zero waste, fully traceable to the farm in Alaska where it was grown. I'm excited to build on this in 2024!

Some personal reflections

  • This is my first cosmetic ingredient. I've launched more software products than I can count, but it was fun try this in a new domain. I was surprised at how much transferred!
  • In particular, cosmetic ingredients reminds me of developer products. The formulator is hiring your ingredient to do a job. This job is functional, but it's also a part of the marketing story for the product.
  • An added complexity is the brand / incubator / manufacturer relationship. Manufacturers purchase the ingredients, but brands ultimately own the formulas.
  • I'm really proud of how fast the Macro Oceans team moved to make this launch happen; we had our first planning meetings about this product in March and did our first manufacturing runs in August.

Alaska kelp harvest falls by 30%


From Macro Oceans:

We spoke to half a dozen farmers across the state (if we missed you, please reach out!). All the data was self-reported and although we received updates from the same number of farmers as last year, we know of a few farmers who did not respond, so this total is probably a bit lower than reality. The results: total production in 2023 was 389,900 wet lbs, down 30% on last year.

It's clear to me that the bottleneck for the seaweed industry is customer demand.

Alaskan Seaweed Update


The Alaskan Seaweed crop has expanded ~30x since 2017. That is from Macro Ocean’s grower survey in partnership with the McKinley Research Group.