Over the years I have received a lot of requests for a Sol de Janeiro Brazillian Bum Bum Cream DIY. I found a 2018 request from Nichole and a 2020 request from Leslie in my records, and I’m pretty darn sure there have been others that have been lost in the shuffle of email accounts and computers over the years. This DIY version doesn’t strive to be a straight dupe, but it does smell the same (yum!) and is very much in the spirit of the store-bought product. I hope you like it!
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I first tried this cream as part of a curated Sephora favourites box. I believe it was a skincare one, and it included a 30mL (1fl oz) yellow tube of Sol de Janeiro’s decadently fragrant and famous Bum Bum Cream. The product is said to tighten up your backside thanks to a blend of beautiful Brazillian ingredients like caffeine-rich guaraná, silky cupuaçu butter, and slippy coconut oil. I can’t say I noticed any tightening whatsoever of my hindquarters, but that SMELL. Oh my goodness. So rich, sweet, deep, and complex. So lingering! I took to treating the sample sized tube more like perfume than lotion.
Once the sample tube ran out I looked at buying some more and… stuff’s not cheap. 240mL (8.1 oz) is about $60 CAD. If we’re being honest, the part of the cream I wanted was the scent, so I set off looking for a good duplicate fragrance oil. If you’ve done much fragrance oil shopping, you’ll know that many popular scents from large brands are available as fragrance oil duplicates, so I was hoping I’d get lucky—and I did! A friend who was familiar with the Sol product recommended the “Bum Bum Cream Fragrance Type” from Scentsational Soaping Supply, saying it was just like the real thing, so I ordered a bottle. For American readers: it’s a pretty reasonable $13ish USD for a bottle. For my fellow non-Americans: it’s not cheap. I was able to order three different fragrances before the shipping jumped up to the next level, so I got an 8 fl oz bottle of the Bum Bum fragrance oil, 8 fl oz of “Sunset Heat, and 4 fl oz “Sweater Weather”. With shipping that came to $60USD, which ended up being just over $80CAD at the time (I wasn’t hit with any additional duty fees, thankfully). It is a really lovely dupe, and does smell downright fantastic, but yeah…. $80 😳 If I hadn’t ordered the other two fragrances that would’ve been closer to $50, but that’s obviously still a lot of money for one fragrance oil. I’d say it’s worth it if you absolutely adore the scent and would buy that $60 tub of the original cream a few times a year, but that’s obviously a call only you can make. (And to my American readers who often ask why I haven’t used an ingredient that is sold in the US but not in Canada… this is why!)
So that’s the fragrance—what about the rest of the cream? In the original, the fragrance is the sixth ingredient, which definitely explains why the original is so perfumey. There’s more fragrance than any of the ingredients they mention in the marketing materials! I decided to shift that balance, giving some beautiful Brazillian ingredients room to shine. I didn’t have all of the oils or any of the extracts they used, so I went through my pantry with the general theme of Latin American goodness and bum-firming in mind and developed a formulation using what I did have.
For the oil phase, I selected a blend of silky and silicone-like cupuaçu butter, fragrant and slippy virgin coconut oil, and antioxidant-rich açai berry oil. Instead of guaraná extract, I just used straight caffeine powder. The original includes some sodium hyaluronate, so I included 20% of a 1% low molecular weight hyaluronic acid solution for added luxury and moisturizing awesomeness. If you’re looking for ideas for substitutions, I recommend reading through the ingredient list for the original—it includes some small amounts of lovely ingredients like Brazil nut oil and carrot seed oil.
I opted to use Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate to emulsify this cream so I could have a reasonably large oil phase and maintain the relatively light feeling of the original. The oil phase here is just over 20%, but it feels more like a 13–15% oil phase product when compared to emulsions made with emulsifying waxes like Polawax. If you don’t have Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate I have provided guidelines on using a Polawax-like emulsifying wax instead in the substitutions list at the end of the formulation, but please keep in mind that this will create a noticeably different end product.
Making-wise, this Sun Bum Body Cream comes together like any other lotion. It does thicken up over the 24-48 hours after making, so don’t be fooled by the just-made consistency. Watch the video to see what I mean! Enjoy ❤️
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Sun Bum Body Cream
Heated water phase
46g | 46% distilled water
10g | 10% vegetable glycerine (USA / Canada)
20g | 20% low molecular weight 1% hyaluronic acid solution (USA / New Zealand)
0.3g | 0.3% caffeine (USA / Canada)
Heated oil phase
2.6g | 2.6% Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate (USA / Canada / UK & EU / Australia)
6g | 6% cupuacu butter (USA / Canada)
5g | 5% virgin coconut oil (USA / Canada)
5g | 5% açaí berry oil
2g | 2% cetyl alcohol (USA / Canada)
0.2g | 0.2% xanthan gum
Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a wide, flat-bottomed sauté pan.
Weigh the heated water phase into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup or glass beaker. Weigh the entire lot (measuring cup + ingredients) and note that weight for use later. Weigh the heated oil phase into a second heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place both measuring cups in your prepared water bath to melt everything through.
After about 20–30 minutes the oil part should be completely melted and the water part should be thoroughly dissolved. Remove the water bath from the heat and weigh the water phase. Add enough hot distilled water to the heated water phase to bring the weight back up to what it was before heating, and then pour the water part into the oil part. Stir with a flexible silicone spatula to incorporate.
Grab your immersion blender and begin blending the lotion, starting with short bursts so the still-very-liquid lotion doesn’t whirl up and spray everywhere. Blend for about a minute, leave to cool for ten, blend for another minute or two, and repeat this blend-cool-blend cycle until the outside of the glass measuring cup is barely warm to the touch and the lotion is thick and creamy.
When the lotion is cool it’s time to incorporate our cool down ingredients. Because cool down ingredients are typically present at very low amounts you’ll need to use an accurate scale—preferably one accurate to 0.01g. As these more accurate scales tend to have fairly low (100–200g) maximum weights you won’t be able to put the entire batch of lotion on that scale without blowing it out. So—grab a smaller dish. Add a scoop or two of lotion, and then weigh the cool down ingredients into that, using the more accurate scale. Stir to thoroughly incorporate, and then stir all of that back into the master batch of lotion. Doing it this way minimizes the amount of cool down ingredients lost to the secondary container.
Once the cool down phase has been incorporated, all that’s left to do is package it up. This cream will continue to thicken for a day or so after being made, so resist the urge to put it in a pump-top bottle as it won’t pump out for very long! I used a 100mL (3.3fl oz) screw-top plastic jar from YellowBee for mine.
To use, smooth some fragrant cream over any skin that could use a bit of added sunshine and moisture. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this cream contains water, you must include a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. This is non-optional. Even with a preservative, this project may eventually spoil as our kitchens are not sterile laboratories, so in the event you notice any change in colour, scent, or texture, chuck it out and make a fresh batch.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this recipe in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 100g.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this formulation, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there! If I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list (caffeine, dimethicone, hyaluronic acid) please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- Propanediol 1,3 will work instead of glycerin.
- If you don’t mind dramatically altering the viscosity, skin feel, and overall product, you could use 6% Polawax (or similar emulsifying wax) instead of Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate, reducing the distilled water to make room for the extra 3.4%. This will make for a substantially thicker, heavier product.
- I intentionally chose tropical/Latin American butters and oils for this formulation, to a total of 16%. If you don’t have any of them please look them up in the Humblebee & Me DIY Encyclopedia for substitution ideas; I recommend keeping the theme if you can! I know the original product contains brazil nut oil—that would be a lovely thing to include if you have it.
- If you’d like to make a thicker version of this cream (watch the video to see what it’s like!), increase the cetyl alcohol to 5% and the Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate to 3%, adjusting the water to ensure the formulation totals 100%.
- You could use cetearyl alcohol instead of cetyl alcohol.
- Hydroxyethylcellulose or Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (Sepimax ZEN) would work instead of xanthan gum.
- The specific fragrance oil I’ve called for is absolutely essential if you want this product to smell like the storebought original. You can use a different fragrance or essential oil, but it obviously will not smell the same.
- If you’d like to make yours more strongly scented, there’s room to do that. The IFRA guidelines for the fragrance oil I used limit this fragrance oil to 6.9% in body lotion, which is a ton. I think your neighbors would be able to taste the fragrance in the air if you used that much! I’d start with 1–2%, reducing the water to make room for more fragrance.
- The mica is optional; replace it with more water if you don’t want to use it.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this FAQ and this chart.
The 100mL (3.3fl oz) screw-top plastic jar and “Nearly Nude” mica were gifted by YellowBee. The coconut oil was gifted by Baraka Shea Butter. Links to Baraka Shea Butter are affiliate links. The Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate and acai berry oil were gifted by Mystic Moments. The hyaluronic acid was gifted by Pure Nature.