Surya Brasil is a Brazilian natural beauty company founded almost 20 years ago by Clélia Cecília Angelon, who describes her company as being guided by Ayurvedic principles and dedicated to sustainability. It's not just marketing talk — the Surya Brasil Sapien Women Body Moisturizer ($26.39) bears an array of third-party certifications from Ecocert, PETA and others for being vegan, cruelty-free and 98.88% natural. It contains no BHT, EDTA, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, GMOs, mineral oil, ethyl alcohol, silicone or synthetic fragrance.
What it does contain is a number of interesting Brazilian rainforest ingredients sourced through fair trade with indigenous tribes. Astrocaryum Murumuru Seed Butter is moisturizing and has a high oleic acid content. Penthaclethra Macroloba Seed Oil (Pracaxi Oil) is antiseptic and emollient and promotes healing. Theobroma Grandiflorum Seed Butter (Cupuacu) is related to cacao and similar to cocoa butter. Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Oil (Acai) is anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. The label doesn't indicate how high the concentration of these rainforest ingredients is. The main moisturizing ingredients are Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Cetearyl Olivate Sorbitan Olivate*, and Glycerin Stearate.
The moisturizer has a tropical, orangey scent that reminds me of sherbet — nice if you like fruity fragrance, but those who prefer their products unscented should avoid this one. The texture is pleasantly smooth and creamy, and it absorbs well without leaving a greasy residue. This is a mid-weight lotion, not a thick cream.
I used the moisturizer for a month on one side of my body, and while I enjoyed the immediate softening, I did not see any long-term improvement in the condition of my skin, which at the end of the trial was still indistinguishable from the untreated side. I'm in my late 40s with fair, paper-thin skin that can best be described as "crinkly" — not cracked, but still miles from supple, especially where it's sun-damaged. I suspect that it will take a richer cream with a higher concentration of healing ingredients to make a noticeable long-term improvement on my arms, legs and chest.
However, last week I did discover a proven benefit in using Sapien as a summer moisturizer. I fell asleep in the hammock and burned both my arms bright red. The arm I treated with Sapien Woman Body Moisturizer had faded by the next day, while the untreated arm remained red and itchy for longer. Perhaps it was the aloe, which is listed as the first ingredient after water.
With its tropical scent, non-oily consistency and ability to calm sunburn, the Surya Brasil moisturizer makes a good addition to the summer skin regimen. Those with more youthful, hydrated skin than mine might like it for year-round use, but dry-skinned folks will likely want a richer cream for the cold months. And if you have mature skin and want to reverse the effects of aging or long-term sun damage, this product probably isn't the one you're looking for.
*Note: Cetearyl Olivate is potentially a cause for concern. This ingredient is derived by reacting olive oil with cetearyl alcohol, which is commonly derived from palm oil. Unsustainable palm oil production devastates forests and is driving orangutan populations to extinction. I reached out to Surya Brasil customer service and they said they don't think the cetearyl alcohol used in their Cetearyl Olivate production comes from palm oil, but we are still waiting for them to confirm with their supplier. The review will be updated when we get an answer.