It seems that after 2009's caffeine and 2010's stem cells, 2011 will be the year of the algae as far as skincare is concerned.

Sushi fans' staff of life has long been a popular ingredient, with upscale beauty labels such as Ole Henriksen and La Mer using it for their skincare products.

But what Solazyme, a US company specialized in algae fuel, has found could be something groundbreakingly new: its Algenist line, which launched at Sephora stores in America and Europe this week, is derived from alguronic acid, which protects algae "from the same environmental insults...we experience."

When scientists studied the microalgae compounds to explore possibilities in renewable energy, they discovered that they increased elastin production and cellular regeneration while protecting against UV damage. According to an independent study, alguronic acid also increased the smoothness of the skin and noticeably reduced wrinkles after a few weeks of using the products.

The line includes Concentrated Reconstructing Serum, Regererative Anti-Aging Moisturizer, and Complete Eye Renewal Balm, priced from $65 to $135.