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Samba Your Way To Supple Skin With Sol de Janeiro’s Açai Body Power Cream

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We’ve been chatting about the extraordinary antioxidant properties of açai berries for almost a decade now, but do you know how valuable a role this fruit has played in Brazilian history? Well, according to legend, there was once a prosperous indigenous tribe that inhabited  the “Boca do Rio Amazona,” the mouth of the Amazon river located in the northern state of Pará. Much to their shock, despite their proximity to the lush rainforest, a drought struck their land — one so severe that it dried up rivers and streams, decimated any fish and seafood life, and even triggered forest fires. Unprepared for such an unforeseen climate change, the tribe began to grow ill as they sought nourishment and hydration. The tribe’s leader, Chief Itaki, worried that if the tribe grew any larger, he’d be unable to save them from starvation and so he issued a decree that the next child to be born would be sacrificed. Much to his chagrin, the next baby born was his own grandchild, born to his daughter Iaca. Despite his fondness for his daughter and her child, Chief Itaki followed through on his decree and the child was sacrificed, leaving Iaca inconsolable. One night, as Iaca wept and mourned the loss of her child, she heard what sounded like a baby’s cries. She followed the sound, and it led her to a palm tree that was bathed in moonlight. There, sitting at the base of the palm tree, she saw a vision of her baby and, running towards her daughter, she quickly embraced her and held her close to her bosom. Soon enough, however, the baby again vanished. Losing her baby a second time was too much for Iaca, who died of a broken heart right then and there. The next morning, Chief Itaki found his daughter’s lifeless body embracing the trunk of the palm tree, her eyes open and her gaze directed at the tree’s branches, which were lined with purple and black berries. Believing his daughter had delivered a miracle to her tribe, Chief Itaki ordered that the berries be harvested and mashed to create a porridge. The açai dish proved so nutritious that it allowed his tribesmen to regain their strength and, as they continued to encounter more of these berries, they knew they would no longer need to fear malnourishment. In honor of his daughter, Chief Itaki named the berries açai (Iaca spelled backwards) and rescinded his decree regarding future births. Both sad and heartwarming, the tale touches upon the dangers and wonders of nature, the undying love of a parent, the sacrifices made to save humanity, and the power of miracles. It also establishes açai as a life-giving fruit, one immersed in folklore and mythology.

Nowadays, we know açai can not only nourish our bodies, but it can replenish our skin when applied topically.  According to some studies, açai has 10 times as many antioxidants as a grape, and it’s rife with vitamin C, essential fatty acids, phytosterols, and minerals, all of which help to hydrate and soften the skin, protect it against UV rays and environmental aggressors, stimulate cellular regeneration, boost collagen production, and fend off visible aging signs. That’s why this rainforest reina rules the new Sol de Janeiro Açai Body Power Cream ($45 at Sephora.com).

As with its predecessor, the Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream, this product has the type of rich texture you’d associate with a body butter, but it’s absorbed relatively quickly (albeit not quite as rapidly as the Bum Bum Cream). Moreover, it too features ingredients like Brazil nut seed oil, which contains both vitamin A and E to stimulate collagen and elastin production; cupuaçu butter, which contains phytosterols that improve the skin’s moisture content, provide antioxidant protection, and increase elasticity; and coconut oil, which contains medium-chain fatty acids that help to reinforce the skin’s moisture barrier and ensure long-lasting hydration. It also contains the same mica particles that help to give the skin a glowing, radiant finish that’s perfect for beach season. In fact, the Açai Body Power Cream only contains a couple of ingredients that differ from its predecessor — for instance, it features guayusa leaf extract as opposed to guaraná seed extract, a minor change given that both plants contain caffeine and are designed to help the skin appear more taut and lifted. Also, the Açai Body Power Cream doesn’t contain carrot seed oil, one of the Bum Bum Cream’s main ingredients. But perhaps above all, the concentration of açai oil in this product is considerably higher than in the Brazilian Bum Bum Cream — so much so that the product has a natural reddish, plum-like tint (Sol de Janeiro doesn’t use synthetic colors in its products so the cream’s hue is the direct result of the açai content). This açai oil content also accounts for the product’s fruity fragrance, which differs immensely from the pistachio caramel aroma of the Brazilian Bum Bum Cream.

As a whole, I’ve had good experiences with the Açai Body Power Cream, but I did find the açai fragrance a bit off-putting. While the cream doesn’t contain parabens, phtalates, petrolatums, or synthetic dyes, it does contain a synthetic fragrance — and that’s where it goes wrong. The açai scent of this cream has that elusive “artificial” quality, so that it doesn’t recall the freshness and juiciness of an authentic açai berry — in fact, it often has floral nuances that seem bewildering given that they don’t create the sensory experience of frolicking on a beach (one of the main draws of the Bum Bum Cream). Also, I found this cream was slightly heavier and tackier than its predecessor, so I try not to use it on humid days since it can wind up feeling a bit too balmy on my skin.

Overall, this is another solid release from Sol de Janeiro but it just can’t beat the cheeky goodness of the Brazilian Bum Bum Cream.

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