Lotions and potions with shamanistic power

Amazonian tribal botanic knowledge combines with Parisian eco-technology

We would all like to hope that our facecreams have magic properties, but French cosmetics brand Aïny can claim thatits luxurious lotions and potions really do. Its productsinclude active ingredients taken from sacred plants and trees found in the Andes andUpper Amazon, sourced by local shamans and healers with knowledge of their powers going back generations. Aïny employs indigenous tribesacross Ecuador and Peru to gather and harvest the selected botanical specimens– among them Schinus Mollé, also known as the Tree of Life, once used toembalm the bodies of Incas, and the oil of Sacha Inchi, a star-shapedplant bursting with omegas 3 and 6 and long-used as a defence againstageing by the local tribespeople.

I came across Aïny on a recent trip toPeru ­– the Palacio Nazarenas, a new Orient Express property in Cusco, usesthe products in its spa. Not only was I impressed with the feel of thecreams on my skin – and the results ­– but I loved the packaging, with itsinscribed drawings and icaro (magic chant) by shamans. TheRegenerating Cream (€62), with omega-9 rich ungurahua oil from the UpperAmazon, was perfect for the high altitude when I was in Cusco, while theMoisturising Harmonising Fluid (€49) has been my constant travel companionever since. The Lip Repair Balm (€13.50) is wonderful during the English winter,and contains achiote, the plant of seduction (whose seeds are used by indigenousAmazonians to ward off evil spirits) and which is full of powerfulantioxidants.

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Founded by Frenchman Daniel Joutard –who during his time in Latin America learnt about the power of plants from ayoung Ecuadorean shaman apprentice – Aïny was brought to the market with theexpertise of Jean-Claude Le Joliff, a former R&D director of Chanel, whocombined the ancient botanical knowledge of the shamans with the latesteco-technology of Parisian laboratories.

Every product undergoes a three-yearresearch period and the result is a wonderful blend of natural fragrance andcertified organic, locally sourced ingredients. Fairtrade ethics mean 4 per cent ofAïny’s turnover is given to the indigenous peoples of Ecuador and Peru.

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While the packaging doesn’t come withinstructions on how to perform magic rituals, there’s always the option ofchanting the incantation written on the box – my favourite, from a femaleshaman, ends: “I am helping you to blossom, I am helping you bebeautiful.” Who knows if it works, but as I massage the cream intomy cheeks, I feel ready to face the world.

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