What is açai and how does it benefit skin?

Discover the many benefits of the nutrient-dense açai berry, a superfood that's good for you inside and out

picture of a bunch of açai berries on white foreground
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Açai has been gaining much buzz in both health, wellness, and beauty communities, and chances are you've come across a lovely Pinterest or Instagram photo of an exotic breakfast bowl featuring this photogenic ingredient. 

Pronounced ah-sigh-yee, it's a purple tropical berry that looks similar to a grape and tastes like a blueberry. It's widely considered a superfood that's been gaining ground not only in the smoothie and food blog department (and rightly so, due to its delicious tropical flavor and super bright, bold aesthetic) but also in beauty circles, as it's jam-packed with antioxidant benefits that can improve your skincare routine.

What are açai berries?

Like blueberries and goji berries, açai is a superfood berry that grows in Central and South American rainforests and is native to Brazil. Picked from the açai palm tree, these berries look more like thick-skinned, purple grapes—earning them the moniker "purple gold" from fans of its many health benefits.

But unlike most other berries, the açai berry has a seed that takes up almost 80% of the fruit. The remaining flesh and skin are packed with vitamins and other nutrients. Delicious açai berries are a perfect addition to a low-calorie diet as they only pack about 70 calories per cup of berries.

Açaí berries can spoil, sometimes in as quick as one day when you buy them fully ripe. Not to worry, as you can always buy açai frozen, and even purchase açai juice or açai in powdered form for a longer shelf life. To ensure your fresh açai berries don't spoil too quickly, keep them unwashed, dry, and refrigerated for up to seven days.

If your skin is sensitive to synthetic beauty formulations that predominantly use chemicals, then you may want to consider products with organic ingredients like açai.

Woman applying skincare in mirror

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Benefits of açai berries

Skin, hair, and nail care begins from the inside out, and there are many health benefits to eating açai berries in addition to adding them to your skincare routine. Delicious when blended into smoothies or simply tossing them down as a snack, they have a taste similar to unsweetened chocolate. Notable benefits are:

  • Rich in antioxidants: Protecting your cells from damaging free radicals, açai will also boost your immune system for greater defense against viruses and infections.
  • High in fiber: The high-fiber content of açai helps keep your blood sugar levels steady. This low-fat berry is full of omega-3 fatty acids that benefit your heart and can help improve cholesterol levels.
  • High in calcium: Açai berries are also calcium-rich, promoting stronger bones, muscles, and nerves. When you need a boost of energy, consider an açai bowl breakfast of puréed açai topped with oatmeal, fruit, or peanut butter.

How to use açai in your skincare routine 

Beauty products that contain açai oil can be a powerful addition to your skincare routine. If you have sensitive skin or dry skin, then açai-based products may be the answer you've been looking for. 

In addition to the health benefits listed above, the very same nutrients are beneficial when you start an açai skin routine. Many beauty products, such as scrubs, serums, moisturizers, and even oral supplements, now include açai berry oil or pulverized açai powder into their formulations. The berry's high level of antioxidants, specifically ferulic acid and epicatechin, are said to be even more potent than blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, or blackberries, and is remarkable in the fight against free radicals. Some of its many benefits include:

  • Anti-aging: Açai-extract beauty products are excellent for anti-aging, reducing wrinkles and acne scarring, and helping with skin regeneration. It has also been said to help reduce stretch marks and crow's feet.
  • Hydration: Smooth açai seed oil on the face and body as a substitute for your moisturizer during your skincare night routine. Note: A few drops of 100% açai berry oil are highly moisturizing, while using too much may clog facial pores and lead to acne blemishes.
  • Eczema relief: As a natural emollient similar to cocoa and shea butter, açai extract can be added to body lotions and creams to treat eczema and psoriasis, and to heal dry and cracked skin.
  • Essential oil base: Those who use essential oils like tea tree, lemongrass, or clary sage can use açai as a carrier oil to dilute potent oils without interfering with their therapeutic properties.

Açai for younger-looking skin

Consider adding açai to your skincare routine to restore your skin's health and reduce the signs of aging. As we age, our skin can show the result of oxidative stress. This type of stress creates an abundance of skin-harming free radicals and can be the result of physical, mental, or even environmental stress: Air pollution from road traffic, factories, and nearby construction, as well as UV exposure, can show adverse effects on our skin and affect our skin barrier. The result of oxidative stress can present as fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, or sagging skin. It has been shown that açai oil can help promote younger-looking skin and help in the fight against oxidative stress by increasing collagen production, which helps your skin stay plump and wrinkle-free. 

How to store açai oil

Storing your açai oil is not a problem. When this potent berry goes through oil extraction in a high-quality manufacturing facility, it has a very long shelf life. While exposure to light or oxygen doesn't diminish the antioxidant properties of açai, you should still store the oil extract in a cool, dark cabinet. 

Eunice Lucero-Lee

A lifelong creative writer and beautyphile, Eunice Lucero-Lee graduated from De La Salle University in 2002 and was hired a year later to front all beauty coverage for Pink Magazine. A beauty, astrology, and pop culture obsessive and insider for over 18 years, Eunice is an internationally published editor (and now certified astrologer) whose work has been featured in publications such as Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and The Numinous, among many others.