Algae is found in many household items, including foods, cosmetics, cleaning supplies, medicine and personal care products. All three kinds of algae, red, brown and green, are used to create many household items. Within these groups are thousands of subspecies, which have different physical characteristics and properties that make them suited for a variety of uses.
Red algae produces compounds called carrageen, which are thick and jelly-like in composition. These compounds are used as stabilizing and thickening agents in foods and cosmetic products such as mascara. Brown algae contains alginates, which make water-based products thicker and creamier: these edible compounds help fortify yogurt, ice cream and cheese. Beta carotene is derived from green algae and is used to dye food and consumed to prevent certain cancers.