Ingredient focus: Astaxanthin

12:30 AM

Have you already heard about Astaxanthin?

Astaxanthin is a super intersting ingredient in terms of skincare! I've tried a few serums containing Astaxanthin and wanted to share some information about this powerful ingredient!

Astaxanthin is a carotenoid, a colorful, lipid-soluble pigment, that has important applications in the nutraceutical, cosmetics, food and feed industries
. It is present in certain algae, animals like salmon, prawns, lobster and other crustaceans, and in Phaffia rhodozyma, a yeast. It is the pigment that gives them their red-orange-pink color.


OK, if you're a chemist, just looking at this molecule can make you happy :D
Look at this beautiful chain of conjugated double bonds! It is responsible for its antioxidant activity and its color.

The primary use of Astaxanthin for humans is as a dietary supplement. Research suggests that, due to astaxanthin's antioxidant activity, it may be beneficial in cardiovascular, immune, inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases. Some research supports the assumption that it may protect body tissues from oxidative and ultraviolet damage (great review article here).

In terms of skincare and cosmetics, there is a wide body of scientific publications that show the ability of Astaxanthin to reduce oxidative stress. Astaxanthin can therefore have a significant benefit on protecting against UVA-induced skin photo-aging, such as sagging and wrinkles. Others reported its actions as inhibition of pigmentation, inhibition of melanin-generation and of light-induced aging. It also has anti-inflammatory properties (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). 

In summary, astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant that is photoprotective (but it doesn't replace a sunscreen cream), can improve discoloration, fine lines, and moisture retention. If you have sun spots, dry skin and wrinkles, that's a great ingredient to incorporate into your skincare routine!

The following products that contain Astaxanthin and that I've used recently all come from South Korea and are: Graymelin Astastemcell anti-wrinkle serum, Sidmool Secret of Red Astaxanthin Concentrate, and It's Skin Power 10 formula Q10 effector.

Graymelin Astastemcell anti-wrinkle serum

Graymelin is a Korean niche brand. They have some nicely formulated products but aren't very famous.
The Astastemcell serum is a gel type of serum that feels moisturizing upon application. I finished it some time ago but didn't remember it to be sticky and it was quickly absorbed. This serum is definitely a serum I would repurchase because when I finished my bottle and stopped using it, after a few days my skin noticed it and I felt like something was missing in my routine. Typically it gave me that glow that I think we are all looking for.

Water, PEG/PPG-17/6 Copolymer (solvent), Butylene Glycol (solvent, slip agent), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (skin soothing), Butylene Glycol (solvent, slip agent), Betaine (humectant, anti-irritant), Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane (emollient, surfactant), Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract (antioxidant, anti-inflammatory), Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract (antioxidant), Astaxanthin (antioxidant), Hydrolyzed Collagen (emolllient/moisturizer), Camellia Sinensis Callus Culture Extract (antioxidant), Sodium Hyaluronate (humectant, thickener), Hydrolyzed Pea Protein (skin conditioning), Lecithin (emollient, emsulsifier), Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Squalane, Phytosterols, Ceramide 3, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Triethanolamine, Sodium polyacrylate Allantoin, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate.

As you can see, in addition of astaxanthin, the Graymelin serum contains many plant extracts with antioxidant properties. It doesn't contain irritant plant extracts. It also contains some phytosterols and ceramide. All of them are great to help repair the skin barrier. That said I don't know if their concentration here is enough for this. It also contains aloe leaf juice for a soothing effect.
In summary, it's a nicely moisturizing gel-type serum that contains many antioxidants and has soothing properties. 

Sidmool Secret of Red Astaxanthin Concentrate

Sidmool is also a niche brand. They seem to focus a lot on the quality of their ingredients and have a lot of products for acne-prone skin.
This serum is a very runny serum. It feels slightly oily on skin but is quickly absorbed and doesn't feel sticky. It doesn't feel particularly moisturizing.
To be honest, I'm not sure what to think about it because I didn't notice any particular results but I feel like I should have used it longer to really see something. I'm actually planning to get a second bottle to get a better opinion of it because it seems to have a nice potential.

Astaxanthin (98.7%), Butylene Glycol (solvent, slip agent), Glycerin (humectant), Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract (fragrant plant extract), Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Extract (fragrant plant extract), Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Flower Extract (fragrant plant extract), Sophora Angustifolia Root Extract (antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, even skin tone), Citrus Junos Fruit Extract (fragrant plant extract), Cellulose Gum (thickener). 

CosDNA analysis.

The ingredient list is really short with astaxanthin being the star ingredient of this serum. It's supposed to be formulated at 98.7% but I don't know if it's under the form of an extract because 98.7% of pure astaxanthin seems a bit crazy (you can understand that I can't believe it's pure astaxanthin at >98%). Note that it contains some fragrant plan extracts that can be irritating for sensitive skin but I guess their concentration is quite low so it shouldn't be such an issue.
In summary, it's a very liquidy serum that contains mainly astaxanthin and a few fragrant ingredients. It's not really moisturizing but the main function of this serum focusses really on astaxanthin. 

It's Skin Power 10 formula Q10 effector

It's Skin is a very famour Korean brand and their Power 10 formula line is very popular.
The Q10 effector is a gel type of serum that contains small beads of products. It feels moisturizing upon application and is slightly sticky. Stickiness lasts only for a couple of minutes.
At first I didn't like the beads in it and stopped using it after a week of use. A couple of weeks later, I started using it again regularly every morning and I must say that I enjoyed using it. After using it for about a month-a month and a half, I noticed that my skin was a bit firmer and also clearer. I can't guarantee 100% that this serum is the reason for these benefits or if it's another product from my routine (I always try new stuff so not so easy to tell at 100%), but when I finished it, I kind of missed it. 

Water, Butylene Glycol (solvent, slip agent), Glycerin (humectant), Polyglutamic Acid (skin conditioning), Pseudoalteromonas Ferment Extract (soothing, humectant), Astaxanthin (antioxidant), Lactose (skin conditioning, humectant), Tocopheryl Acetate (vitamin E derivative, antioxidant), Ubiquinone (=Coenzyme Q10, antioxidant), Ceramide NP (Skin Replenishing), CI 77492, Dipropylene Glycol, Ethyl Hexanediol, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Ethylhexylglycerin, Cellulose, Disodium EDTA, Cholesterol, Hydropropyl Methylcellulose, BHT, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Phospholipids, Fragrance.  

This serum is advertised as Coenzyme Q10 serum but it also contains Astaxanthin! Both ingredients are powerful antioxidants. It also contains a mix of humectants, skin conditioning and soothing agents.
In summary, it's a gel serum that contains Coenzyme Q10 and Astaxanthin (hello antioxidant power~) and that is quite moisturizing. 

Graymelin and Sidmool are both niche brands and might be not that easy to get while the It's Skin serum is available on most Korean cosmetics retailers.

If I had to repurchase only one, I guess it would be the Graymelin one because I really like the texture and formula plus it contains a good mix of antioxidant plant extracts in addition to astaxanthin and no irritating ingredients. That said, the It's Skin serum also gave me some results and finally as I said, I'd like to try more of the Sidmool serum.

And you, have you already tried a product containing Astaxanthin?


It's Skin serum: Jolse, Koreadepart, W2beauty: Use my code "193008208" to get $5 off your order, Testerkorea
If you're looking for Switzerland-based retailers for K-beauty products, you can purchase from and

Sidmool products can be purchased from To buy from their website, it's easier to use a buying service such as Avecko or Korean Buddy. If you need help, tell me!

For Graymelin products, you can either directly buy from W2beauty (code "193008208" to get $5 off your order) or through For, you will need a buying service such as Avecko or Korean Buddy.

You Might Also Like


Flickr Images