Why is TikTok now #obsessed with Sea Moss Gel?

Why is TikTok now #obsessed with Sea Moss Gel? | Soho House

Meet the hype-y next phase of your wellness journey. But is the latest healthy algae craze as harmless as it seems?

Thursday 4 August 2022   By Robin Reetz

If you’ve been on the internet lately, chances are you’ve read about sea moss gel. In its simplest form, sea moss is an Irish moss or algae known for its rich vitamin and mineral content. Consumers of sea moss gel (you eat it, rather than slap it on your face) have claimed a variety of benefits, from improved gut health to clear skin, lower cholesterol, higher energy levels, and more.

The internet’s interest in the photosynthetic flora began in mid-2020 and hit its peak this spring thanks to endless videos of users sharing their sea moss gel journey on TikTok – what it tastes like, the texture, the benefits they’ve experienced.

‘Sea moss by @Seamoss UK | TAHAORIGINS is legit life changing. Definitely worth a try in your smoothies,’ said one TikToker. ‘You’re gonna notice that you’ll start to cough up a lot of phlegm, which is OK,’ said another. ‘Because you’re clearing out all that stuff that doesn’t belong in your lungs and you’re gonna be able to breathe so much better.’ Hmmm.

Short of being ‘discovered’ by the TikTok generation, however (sorry, tweens), sea moss gel became popular because the right people told us to start eating it. LA grocery store and wellness mecca Erewhon recently sold a $17 smoothie in collaboration with Hailey Bieber containing sea moss gel. The smoothie went viral, which doesn’t necessarily mean anything about the efficacy of sea moss – which, incidentally, remains unclear – but it does tell us something about our ongoing obsession with wellness and the results it promises. 

Said preoccupation can be attributed to a few things – social media, of course, and our Google-aided ability to access reviews from like-minded strangers. Another might be our collective desire to control a world that increasingly feels like it’s spiraling out of control. Concentrate on your gut wellness or skincare routine and maybe the horror starts to make a little more sense.

That’s where Gen Z plays a role. Anyone born between the years of 1997 and 2012 is part of a generation that has a certain distrust in the systems that govern us baked into their DNA – as The New York Times recently noted in a viral opinion piece, Gen Z has never lived in a time where capitalism has been a functioning economic system. And as our systems falter and a collective doubt grows, we begin looking to each other – and the stuff we eat – for guidance.

Why is TikTok now #obsessed with Sea Moss Gel? | Soho House
Why is TikTok now #obsessed with Sea Moss Gel? | Soho House

Kate Glavan, the Gen Z co-host of the podcast Sea Moss Girlies and co-owner of the meme account @seamossgirlies, is an expert in the field. Along with her co-host, Emma Roepke, Glavan intentionally chose a buzzy wellness term as a way to poke fun at the often impossible-to-keep-up-with trends and regimens. Glavan and Roepke also acknowledge that wellness is an industry built in many ways around privilege.

‘We use our platform to educate our audience about health and wellness, but also point out the exclusivity and elitism that runs rampant in the industry,’ she says. ‘A lot of wellness culture makes people unwell – ie eating disorders, body image issues, comparison… All of the picture-perfect Instagram photos with green juice talking about some trendy “detox” can make people feel like sh*t if their lives don’t look the same,’ she continues. ‘It also speaks to the chaos of our world – broken political and economic systems, countries not taking action on climate change. People don’t feel they can control the world around them in any meaningful way, thus we tend to focus on ourselves as individuals,’ she says. 

And while in a micro, everyday sense this may not feel like a huge issue, practiced en masse it can prevent us from taking action and working to find solutions. ‘A lot of the conversations in wellness for a long time have been stuck in the framework of “I'm going to buy a water filter for my home’ versus interrogating the root issue of “I wonder why my community’s water supply has gotten worse in quality over time. Is it because my local city council has defunded our environmental budget?”’

To care for others, we have to first care for ourselves. That’s why finding some sort of balance is necessary for progression – feeling our best means we’ll be able to do our best when it comes to the small task of trying to save the world. And if a stronger gut health and clear skin is part of that journey, that can’t hurt either. Sea moss, you can stay*.

*at least as long as TikTok lets you.

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