The Seaweed skincare trend takes off: why brands like ishga look set to be big in 2014

ishga seaweed skincare

I’ve had a hunch for a while that marine/seaweed-based beauty will be big in 2014, so it’s particularly exciting to have Scottish organic beauty brand ishga on The Beauty Shortlist this week.

If you’ve recently had the pleasure of being pampered at the Spa at Blythswood Square in Glasgow,  you may already have fallen in love with ishga (which means “water” in Gaelic).


The Spa at Blythswood Square (aka where we’d rather be on any given weekday afternoon)

Coincidence or not, some of my “desert island” beauty products have “marine” or “seaweed” on the label (for me, these formulas are among the most skin-nutritious around and my skin, which is normal-to-dry, just seems to love marine ingredients – big time).


ishga is the signature range used at the Spa at Blythswood Square

What makes ishga so interesting is that they take ‘science-meets-nature’ seaweed beauty to a whole higher level…here’s why:

  • It all springs from the source.  The Hebrides, where ishga’s seaweed is naturally harvested, has some of the cleanest waters in the world along one of the purest coastlines in the world (and the most breathtakingly beautiful, for that matter!) The Hebrides has a history of “healing waters” and in a world where “pure” seems to be disappearing, we’re drawn to sources of anything pure, healing and therapeutic – and ishga ticks all those boxes. 
  • ishga believes the actual seaweed content in their products is higher than any other seaweed brands on the market.


  • Why seaweed? ishga’s Hebridean seaweed (aka Ascophyllum Nodosum – wake up at the back of the Latin class!)  is hand harvested and naturally supercharged full of powerful anti-oxidants, our anti-ageing allies – and it’s full of vitamins, minerals and trace elements too
  • ishga’s founders have an impressive pedigree. Behind the brand is Malcom Macrae (a marine biologist) and his wife Joanna (a beauty therapist who worked with Clarins), as well as a seaweed expert and luxury spa specialist. 

If you’ve ever walked along a seaweed-strewn beach on a windy day and thought “hmm!” at the waft of seaweed carried in the breeze, ishga processes the seaweed at low temperatures which means they grab all the goodness while excluding the compounds which can create that seaweedy smell.

harvesting seaweed in the Hebrides

Move over sushi…why 2014 will be the year Seaweed goes mainstream

Seaweed looks poised to be massive (with a capital “M”) this year as a health food and restaurant ingredients – and to feed your face with (mark our words)…

Harpers Bazaar recently did a “10 Reasons To Love Seaweed” feature and seaweed has been appearing all over the place in 2014 Food Trend features (set to be big, along with lemon, truffles and rose hips among other things).

Woman & Home have just included seaweed in their New Food Trends for 2014 as it moves beyond sushi into the mainstream.

But back to ishga.  We’ve picked out a few highlights from the ishga skincare collection that caught our attention this month, starting with:

ishga Organic Exfoliating Face Mask with fine seaweed grains £35

Grainy exfoliators with microbeads are going to be “out” this year, while gentler ones with natural exfoliants will be the gamechangers.  “Rough” exfoliation can cause havoc with skin’s balance, aggravating acne and even leaving tiny “scars” – it’s particularly bad for more mature skin.

ISHGA exfoliating face mask

Fine organic seaweed grains and kelp powder to help oxygenate, feed and detoxify skin

ishga’s Exfoliating Face Mask contains fine seaweed grains, in a mix of natural Hebridean sea water, kelp seaweed powder (nothing short of brilliant when it comes to oxygenating, feeding and detoxifying skin – it can help slow the signs of ageing), and Rose Geranium Essential Oil to calm skin, keep bacteria at bay (it’s mildly astringent).

Suitable for all skin types, this revitalising  mask is £35 – it’s like a food fest (as in good food, not junk food!) for skin and the fine seaweed grains help sweep away those dead skin cells we don’t want hanging around.

ishga Organic Seaweed Exfoliating Face Mask £35


ishga Active Cleansing Lotion £30

This cleanser has a really goodlooking label, and ishga designed it to suit all skin types – we love the lemon rind in there and glycerine is a nice, light humectant.

ishga cleansing lotion

ishga’s organic Cleansing Lotion is moisturising, cleansing, calming, while rind of lemon adds antiseptic protection

The ingredients include:

Brown Algae Seaweed – Diuretic and anti oxidants
Jojoba Oil – Carrier oil ideal for all skin types, an anti inflammatory and anti oxidants
Glycerine – Is a humectant
Bergamot Orange Oil – It calms, soothes, de-stresses and promotes sleep
Rind of the lemon – Is an antiseptic, cleansing and is helpful in boosting the immune system and fighting infections.

More on ishga’s Active Cleansing Lotion here

ishga Hebridean Marine Toner £25

If you’ve ever thought “Toner? Why bother?” try adding one (a good one) to your skincare routine and chances are you’ll become addicted even if it is that extra step when you’re time-stretched.


ishga’s Hebridean Marine Toner (£25) contains:

Brown Algae Seaweed – Diuretic and anti oxidants
Rind of the lemon – Is an antiseptic, cleansing
Natural Salt water – Healing & therapeutic properties
Aloe Vera – Hydrates your skin, soothes and promotes skin renewal
Mandarin Red Essential Oil – Uplifting, soothing oil and is calming to the skin + Cucumber extract


Need to get away? Dip into ishga at The Spa at Blythswood Square

The Spa at Blythswood Square uses ishga in its Detox treatments, including its signature ishga Express Detox (£99 per person) where you can get away from it all and unwind in a nutrient-rich  Seaweed Bath for 30 mins, followed by a Body Scrub (30 mins) – and you can take your body on a 3 hour sensory, healing journey too, as the Spa’s unique Thermal Experience is included in the package.

hotel view

Blythswood Square Hotel (…book us in!)

Or make a day of it and book in for the Spa’s Ultimate Detox Spa Day (from £210 pp) includes a guilt-free Afternoon Tea of crudites, salad and sugar free cakes and you can relax at the spa until you’re ready to go home, fully rested and recharged.

The Ultimate Detox Spa Day combines:

ishga Seaweed Body Wrap (55 minutes)
ishga Hot Stone Massage (55 minutes)
Express Facial (25 minutes)
Use of The Thermal Experience circuit
Energising & Detoxifying Spa Afternoon Tea

 For more details and to make a booking, call The Spa at Blythswood Square on 0141 240 1622



…and ishga launches at The Lifehouse Spa near London in a few weeks

 lifeshouse spa

ishga is going to be launching at one of the UK’s most unique spas in just a a few weeks’ time – at The Lifehouse Spa in Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex.  Frequently featured in the press, The Lifehouse Spa has just been named one of Sunday Times Travel Magazine’s “6 of the Best Great British Spas – No. 5 “The Modern One” (February 2014 issue)

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What does what? Your Ishga Ingredients Checklist

Seaweed: Rich in Polyphenols, these antioxidants are a shield again environmental damage to the skin and neutralise free radicals (yes to that!)  If free radicals take over, skin starts to look dull, dry, wrinked, uneven…and older and antioxidants are our best defence against free radicals.


 Thistle Oil: Very Scottish! And a brilliant source of essential fatty acids (omega 3 and 6) which make up an astounding 80% of the oil content. Thistle oil is good for oily skin and can help rebalance skin with large pores. 

Jojoba Oil: Jojoba is a “long” oil which works as a moisture-retainer, it’s not the most “glamorous” of oils but it’s a hard worker and is perfect for all skin types, including acne treatments as it helps unclog pores.  Technically a liquid wax, it forms a protective film on skin (great against wintry icy blasts!) 

Apricot Kernel Oil: Super-silky, apricot oil is acts like a cashmere blanket on sensitive, inflamed, mature or dry skin – calming, soothing and well tolerated by all skin types normally. 

Vitamin E: A mixture of alpha, beta, gamma and delta tocopherols which are 100% natural, Vitamin E is a classic antioxidant, protecting against the destruction of the connective tissue caused by free radicals. Nothing glam about it – but it works! 

Aloe Vera Concentrate: If skin could choose its own drink, aloe would probably be it! It contains 96% water, lignin, saponins, anthraquines, carbohydrate glucomannans (of particular importance is acemannan), tannins, steroids, enzymes, growth hormones, aloin, glucommannans, salicylic acid, and fatty acids if that’s not enough, it also contains 20 amino acids, nine minerals and loads of vitamins including the B family, A, C and E.  Aloe is a major “healer” of skin, it’s calming, anti-inflammatory, helps heal scars, relieves sunburn redness, repairs skin, is antiseptic and antibacterial.

Macadamia Nut Oil:Macadamia Nut Oil is a classic oil for mature skin and a great one for skin that finds it hard to retain moisture. 

Comfrey Glycerol Extract:Plants like comfrey, which have high carbohydrate content, are considered to rejuvenate the skin and to have healing, soothing and moisture retaining properties. They are good for rough, damaged skin and can, with time, alleviate wrinkling and enable skin tissue to regain its youthful elasticity. The tannins and rosmarinic acid have an astringent and anti-inflammatory effect. 

Cucumber Extract: (More “skin food”!)  The eye-freshening favourite, Cucumber contains Vitamin C and caffeic acid, helps soothe skin irritations and reduce swelling and can help de-puff and reduce under-eye bags and those dreaded morning-after-five-nights-before dark circles.

Discover the complete ishga organic skincare collection at ISHGA.CO.UK

The ishga Collection



4 responses to “The Seaweed skincare trend takes off: why brands like ishga look set to be big in 2014”

  1. This sounds fantastic – really like the look of the exfoliator x

  2. Cathie says:

    I have been using ishga for 2 weeks now and my skin feels so soft and clean. I love ishga and would not contemplate another product. The mask smells so good! Great products.

  3. Emma says:

    This sounds gorgeous and the prices are so reasonable too!

    Blow LTD.