Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Hype Machine: Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream

The Hype Machine is a series that takes a critical look at well-loved, cult classic, appears-in-every-other-Instagram-photo products and asks: are they worth the hype?

It's happened: I've purchased the Bum Bum Cream. I bought it during the recent Sephora VIB sale, several days before Kimberly Clark ranted about it in a recent Anti-Haul video. (That coincidence actually made me giggle.) Honestly, I ignored the hype about this product for months until it started popping up in videos and posts from a few of my favorite gurus, namely Jacquelyn, who raves about products so selectively I couldn't help but be intrigued. When I started hearing these personal faves claim that this was the most moisturizing and delightfully fragranced cream on the market, I broke down and bought a small jar. Hey, I was running low on moisturizer anyway.

The Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream is available in two sizes: $20 for 2.5oz or $45 for 8.1oz. Not wanting to break the bank on a new product, I bought the smaller size, totally forgetting how tiny 2.5 ounces of body moisturizer is--that's not even half the size of a Haus of Gloi Pumpkin Butter. The larger jar is obviously the better value, but it's still a damned expensive moisturizer. Some people might find the bright yellow-orange packaging tacky...

...and you're right. It is. I love it.

What I don't love is the awkward marketing for this product. Because I didn't pay much attention to this cream when it first started getting hyped on YouTube, I didn't notice how the advertisements fetishized Brazilian bodies. (And before you start screeching, "Renee, it's in the name!": I honestly thought it came from a Brazilian company and that was it. With a name like "Bum Bum Cream," I clearly wasn't using my critical thinking skills.) The Kimberly Clark video linked above already does a good job of ranting about this, so I won't do much complaining about that here. Just enjoy this blurb from the Sephora page:

Sol de Janeiro came together with a mutual love of the distinctly Brazilian attitude towards beauty, their secrets, and their know-how. This product supports the Brazilian philosophy that beauty isn’t a standard to reach, it’s an attitude to take. A head-to-toe sensuality that comes through in a smile, a saunter, a samba.

So let's move along to the actual product claims. Straight off the bat, this is not going to "firm" your skin like it claims. It's a freaking topical cream, and the top half of the ingredients is seriously mundane: you'll find water, caprylic triglyceride, fatty alcohols, and fragrance in just about every cheap moisturizer on the market. I knew this from the start and never expected it to give me...well, I don't know what some people think firming creams will do for them, but since we're on the Weird Cultural Fetishization train, let's say "a Brazilian butt lift." The other claims are that it's fast-absorbing, makes the skin touchably soft, and will give you a "perfect Brazilian glow" (ugh) with fine mica. Those three claims are what I actually wanted from the cream.

Let's get the mica out of the way. Yes, it's there. Yes, it's extremely fine; I had to tilt my just-moisturized arm under direct light for several seconds to spot the faintest hint of shimmer. No, it doesn't really make you look more glowy, at least not from what I'm seeing. No, it's not a deal breaker, at least for me.

As for fast-absorbing: that's definitely true, and given the texture, I'm not surprised. I was expecting a thick, rich ream, but lo and behold, this product actually has a typical lotion texture. It's not as dense as a true body cream, but it's also not as watery as, say, Palmer's Cocoa Butter. It spread decently, yet I'll definitely finish this jar faster than I thought I would; it took me about a quarter sized amount to do one leg, for instance. The Bum Bum Cream soaks in almost immediately and leaves no residue behind.

It's not especially moisturizing, though, and that's the real clincher for me. The raves and reviews suggested I would be blown away by how nourishing the Bum Bum Cream is, that it'd make my skin so soft and supple, I'd give zero fucks about the cost. But that didn't happen. Yeah, it moisturized, but quite lightly. I'd get the same amount of hydration from the aforementioned cocoa butter.

 Like the smell, hate the price? There's a body splash for that.

Last, but not least, the scent. This is what gets people worked up about this product, and I kind of see why. It's a very sweet, but not overly cloying smell with a hint of something tropical. Sol de Janeiro calls it "pistachio caramel;" I think it smells exactly like that pineapple fluff dessert some aunt always makes for family functions. Is it a nice smell? Sure. Is it especially unique? Eh, not really. If you're in it for the smell, just get their body splash. Better yet, get the body splash and a cheaper, fragrance-free moisturizer. That'll get you further in the hydration department than a jar of Bum Bum Cream.

BOTTOM LINE: The Brazilian Bum Bum Cream isn't terrible, but it's definitely overhyped. There are more moisturizing products available at half the price, and at the end of the day, that's all this product does: moisturize. If you're in it for the scent, check out the body splash instead.

The Hype Machine is a series that represents my experiences and opinions. It is not meant to be a personal attack on a specific company, product, or consumer. I always recommend that you try products for yourself and see how they work for you. Everybody is unique, after all!


  1. I got a packet sample of this in a Sephora order and was not a fan, to put it mildly. The scent was overpowering and it was super glittery - I wonder if they did samples at the beginning or end or a run and the amount of mica and scent was off. Seriously, I cannot express adequately how STRONG the scent was. No bueno.

    1. It's definitely strong! Too sweet for me to wear every day, to be honest.

  2. Is Palmer's Cocoa Butter lotion watery? I use it every day after showering and it feels pretty thick to me. Then again, I prefer thinner body lotions, so the cocoa butter one is pretty much as thick as I'll go.

    1. As far as lotions go, it's relatively thin unless you switch to the cream in the jar. I've definitely used much thicker products.