Sunday, September 6, 2009

Singing the Skincare Praises of the Amazon's "Fruit of Youth": Acai

Follow the adventures of Holly Millea of Elle magazine as she accidentally discovers the Amazonian Fruit of Youth in this excerpted peek from

Having missed my connecting flight, I arrived in the Brazilian state of Pará, at
its capital, Belém (Portuguese for “Bethlehem”), and found no one from the
Women’s Fashion Correctional Facility to meet me. I did, however, find Jesus, or
rather, he found me. Seeing my ELLE logo duffel bag, he introduced himself and
asked if I was one of the international beauty editors descending in search of
the Holy Grail of antioxidants—açaí. With a “yes,” I was saved and fell in with
a flock that included seekers from Brazilian Vogue, Australian Harper’s Bazaar,
and German Brigitte; a hunky Brazilian photographer; a guide named Ulisses; and
an all-girl trio from Kiehl’s, the landmark New York apothecary, who couldn’t
stop singing açaí’s praises. Pronounced ah-sigh-EE, the purple, protein-packed
berry grows deep in the rain forest and is the hottest exotic superfood to hit
the market since Himalayan goji, Tahitian noni, and Haribo gummi bears.

I’m on a riverboat gliding deep, deep, deeper into the rain forest to
the remote region of Igarapé Mirim. Here, a small group of people from the
Nazarezinho community harvest açaí for Beraca, an eco-friendly extract company
that supplies Kiehl’s with the ingredients for its new line, the Açaí
Damage-Repairing Skincare Collection. Stilted shacks with white satellite dishes
planted out front like lawn ornaments skirt the banks against a forest of açaí
palms. The trees soar 70 feet above, their prize fruit hanging atop the canopy
in heavy, weeping bunches. Açaí means “the fruit that cries,” and these berries
are bawlin’ to come down.

“Don’t these people look so healthy?” asks
Angelike Galdi, a Kiehl’s chemist, interrupting that last thought as she waves
goodbye to the Nazarezinho workers from our boat. “They don’t go to doctors.
We’d be slim and healthy too if all we ate was fish and açaí.” And climbed tall
trees, harvested heavy fruit, never met a vending machine, didn’t drink alcohol
(the still is for making açaí juice), and had no toxic jealousy pulsing through
our veins. Smooth-skinned and sinewy, the villagers appear ageless, probably
ignorant of exactly how old they are. They don’t dread birthdays; they celebrate
açaí harvests. Rain-forest babies start consuming the fiber-rich food at six
months. According to Kiehl’s research, 100 grams of dried açaí contains 10 grams
of protein and five times the antioxidant levels of blueberries. “It’s a
broad-spectrum antioxidant that protects skin from free radicals,” Galdi
explains. A free radical is an unstable molecule created by the
environment—external aggressors like sun and pollution. “Because they’re
unstable,” she says, “they’re constantly trying to stabilize, and in the process
they oxidize and eat away at the skin’s proteins and lipids, damaging the cells
and ultimately the cell DNA, which, in more serious forms, can cause mutations
that result in different types of skin cancers.”

I text nutritionist Oz
Garcia, PhD, and ask him to simplify the science. “The very thing that keeps us
alive—oxygen—is slowly killing us,” says the best-selling author, “life
extension specialist,” and Kiehl’s antiaging consultant. “We rust, wrinkle,
spot, wear down with age—we’re eventually going to oxidize to death.” Garcia
says the antioxidant chemicals that give dark fruits and vegetables their rich
colors protect them from aging, “and when we eat them, they’re in us,” delaying
the inevitable.

More research ... Holly concludes
the piece with a less than "oh my gosh" attitude toward acai.While it is
unquestionably a strong antioxidant, our dermatologist Dennis Gross, MD, warns
of “a mythological culture surrounding açaí. As far as the topical benefit to
the skin goes, it’s anecdotal, and that does not equal scientific testing.” It
might look like it’s working, but “it isn’t proven effective.”

says that it’s “primarily preventive. Açaí does not get rid of wrinkles, but it
does free up the cells to work at 100 percent capacity for health to fight
future wrinkles and damage.” Instead of wearing themselves out now fighting

~ excerpt Elle magazine, by Holly Millea

For more information, read the full article on

Want to learn more about why the Kiehl's gals are so in love with acai?
While many people assume Kiehl’s products are 100 percent organic, this line is the brand’s first organic skin care line, said Chris Salgardo, president of Kiehl’s USA. “Since our inception, we have always been known for our service and for creating efficacious products,” said Salgardo, noting that everyone asks for “green” products, but still demand high performance. “We heard that our customers wanted organics, that they wanted paraben-free, that they wanted natural — and they wanted to focus on the first signs of aging. We went to the lab to do all that. The result: our new Açaí line.”

Açaí was chosen, Salgardo said, because its “superior antioxidant properties” help combat environmental aggressors and stimulate the skin’s natural renewal process, yet the products are 100 percent natural. “Açaí is a powerful superberry, which means a fruit considered to have exceptionally high levels of nutrients, antioxidants and potential health benefits when compared to other foods,” he said. “It has high antioxidant levels to help reverse and prevent oxidizing free-radical damage to skin cells arising from environmental and lifestyle stress; it is among the highest in antioxidant capacity of any edible fruit and it is a broad-spectrum antioxidant, especially effective against superoxides and peroxyl free-radicals which produce oxidative damage on skin.”

In addition to açaí, the ingredient lineup includes organic lavender and rosemary essential oils, organic orange fruit water, denatured botanical alcohol and aloe vera juice, all intended to minimize fine lines and wrinkles and increase skin luminosity, said Salgardo.

Visit Kiehl's and search "acai" in their search bar. You'll find their Acai Collection products, all ECOCERT organic, all 100% natural origin ingredients, and surprisingly reasonably priced ($24 - $48).

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