5 Benefits Of Astaxanthin For Skin, How To Use, & Side Effects

Steer clear of sun damage, dryness, and signs of aging with this rich ingredient.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Nermeen BedairDr. Nermeen Bedair, MD, PhD (Dermatology)
By Arshiya SyedaArshiya Syeda  • 

Have you ever heard of astaxanthin? This powerhouse of an ingredient possesses an unusual amount of antioxidants, making it an instant hit in the skin care domain (1). In addition, it is a type of carotenoid found in the marine world of algae and aquatic animals – including shrimp, trout, salmon, lobster, and red sea bream – and in birds such as quails and flamingos (2). So, we would not be surprised if you have seen this ingredient in several skin care products.

Are you curious to learn more about it? This article will take you through what astaxanthin is, the benefits of astaxanthin for the skin, its uses, preventative measures, and side effects. Keep reading to learn all about this unique ingredient!

protip_icon Did You Know?
Richard Kuhn, a renowned scientist from Germany, was the first to isolate astaxanthin from a lobster.

What Is Astaxanthin?

Astaxanthin pigment from natural sources

Image: Shutterstock

Astaxanthin is a pigment molecule that is a member of the carotenoid family found in certain marine/freshwater algae. In simpler words, it is the yellow, orange, and red pigments that are produced by plants, algae, and bacteria.

One of the reasons why it has gained traction is because it is a potent antioxidant. In other words, it is helpful for addressing all kinds of skin issues – reducing skin wrinkles and age spots, enhancing skin elasticity and texture, and increasing the moisture content of the skin (3).

protip_icon Trivia
Pacific krill, Antarctic krill, and yeast are some of the natural sources of astaxanthin.

Now, let us look at the benefits of astaxanthin and its uses in skincare.

Top 5 Benefits Of Astaxanthin For Skin

Astaxanthin has some great benefits for skin that are backed by scientific research. Research suggests that it has photoprotective, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties (4). In a nutshell, if you have extremely dry and damaged skin, astaxanthin may just be the ingredient you need to add to your daily skin care routine. Here is a quick run-through of its skin care benefits:

1. Protects The Skin Against Free Radicals And Sun Damage

Woman with sun damage may benefit from astaxanthin

Image: Shutterstock

Oral astaxanthin supplementation can protect the skin against damaging UV rays by suppressing the cell damage that is caused by free radicals (5). In fact, this ingredient can even slow down the growth of skin cancer cells and help maintain healthy skin.

2. Reduces Dryness

Woman with dry skin may benefit from astaxanthin

Image: Shutterstock

According to a study conducted in Japan, astaxanthin aids in reducing the loss of skin moisture and improves the texture of rough skin (5).

3. Treats Inflammatory Skin Diseases

Considering that astaxanthin prevents the damaging effects of UV rays on the skin, this ingredient is an important component of several anti-inflammatory drugs that help treat inflammatory skin diseases such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis (AD) (4).

4. May Prevent Wounds From Becoming Worse

Woman applying astaxanthin cream on a wound

Image: Shutterstock

According to research done on rats, astaxanthin has significant antioxidant properties that help activate the cellular antioxidant defense system. This helps in protecting the skin against early burn wound progression and accelerates wound healing (4).

5. Delays Skin Aging

Research also indicates that ASX may play a promising functional role in treating and preventing skin aging and promoting overall skin health (4). Using a topical cream containing ASX combined with other active ingredients can significantly reduce wrinkles and puffiness under the eyes and on the cheeks after two weeks of use (4).

6. Improves Skin Moisture And Elasticity

A study was conducted in Italy on women who were given 2 mg of ASX. After six weeks of ASX treatment, significant improvements were observed in their skin moisture levels and elasticity (4).

Now that you have a good understanding of astaxanthin’s skin benefits, let’s understand how to use it in the right dosage and with the right precautions to keep in mind.

How To Use Astaxanthin The Right Way

Woman applying astaxanthin moisturizer on her face

Image: Shutterstock

Astaxanthin can be used by people of all ages and skin types. It is particularly useful for people with sensitive skin, owing to its anti-inflammatory properties, which aid in reducing skin redness, sensitivity, and inflammation.

If you have dry and damaged skin, using astaxanthin the right way can make a big difference. This ingredient can be used twice every day – morning and night – in the form of a serum, moisturizer, or oil. Make sure to read the label and conduct a patch test to ensure that you are not allergic to ASX.

Astaxanthin pills can also be taken orally. You can take astaxanthin in doses of 4 to 40 mg daily for up to 12 weeks or 12 mg daily for 6 months. You can combine it with other carotenoids, vitamins, and minerals at 4 mg daily for up to 12 months.

To figure out the ideal dosage for your skin – when using either topically or orally – consult a dermatologist.

Pro tip: Astaxanthin works extremely well with moisturizers and should ideally be used with other products containing antioxidants like vitamins C and E to boost its effectiveness.

Finally, let us talk about the side effects of astaxanthin.

Side Effects Of Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is safe to use when used topically. However, if you are ingesting it, this ingredient can have side effects. Here are a few precautionary measures to keep in mind when consuming astaxanthin in any form (6):

  • Speak to your dermatologist to figure out if you are allergic to astaxanthin or related carotenoids.
  • Do a patch test before you start using ASX topically.
  • If you have a bleeding disorder, consult a physician before consuming ASX.
  • It may lower your blood sugar levels and blood pressure so keep monitoring both routinely.
  • If you have a hormonal disorder or are on any kind of liver medication, consult your doctor prior to ingesting it.
  • If you are on immunosuppressants or have an auto-immune condition, consult your doctor before taking ASX.
  • ASX may lower your serum calcium levels if you are suffering from hypocalcemiai  XA medical condition with symptoms like memory loss and muscle spasms that occurs when there is a very low calcium level in the blood. , osteoporosis, or a parathyroid disorderi  XA medical disorder that leads to abnormal calcium levels in the blood and symptoms like kidney stones, weakness, and brittle bones. .
  • It can cause severe abdominal pain and aplastic anemiai  XA rare medical condition that occurs when bone marrow damage stops the body from producing sufficient new blood cells. .
  • If you are pregnant or lactating, avoid this ingredient.
  • This ingredient is not safe to be consumed by children (below 18 years of age).

Infographic: Natural Sources Of Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is a blood-red pigment produced by freshwater microalgae. It works by protecting the cells against free radical damage. It helps rejuvenate skin cells and is available in many natural sources. Check out the infographic below to learn about the natural sources of astaxanthin and the various forms it is available in.

natural sources of astaxanthin (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

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Astaxanthin is hailed as the best available ingredient for addressing aging signs and skin revitalization. It is a naturally occurring carotenoid, a type of antioxidant, and using astaxanthin for skin helps prevent oxidative damage caused due to UV rays by inhibiting free radical formation. In addition, it helps treat wounds, moisturize your skin, and improve skin texture.
Although it is safe to use it topically, you may have to be careful if you ingest it. Follow the tips shared here if you are consuming it in any form, and consult your doctor before you start using astaxanthin.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does astaxanthin darken skin?

No, astaxanthin does not darken the skin. It helps improve the skin and protects it from sun damage.

Will astaxanthin turn you pink?

No, the right amount of astaxanthin does not turn your skin pink. Therefore, always consult a doctor for the right dosage before using it.

Key Takeaways

  • Astaxanthin is a pigment molecule found in marine and freshwater algae, belonging to the carotenoid family.
  • This powerful ingredient has an unusual amount of photoprotective, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory capabilities.
  • It can minimize wrinkles and age spots, improve skin elasticity and texture, and enhance skin’s moisture content.
  • This ingredient can be applied twice a day, in the morning and night, as a serum, moisturizer, or oil. Oral astaxanthin pills are also available.


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Astaxanthin: A Review of its Chemistry and Applications
  2. Astaxanthin: A potential carotenoid
  3. Cosmetic benefits of astaxanthin on humans subjects
  4. Astaxanthin in Skin Health Repair and Disease: A Comprehensive Review
  5. The Protective Role of Astaxanthin for UV-Induced Skin Deterioration in Healthy People—A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial
  6. Astaxanthin: A Review of the Literature
  7. Protective effects of astaxanthin on skin deterioration
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