Why Are Tweens Buying a ‘Visibly Firming’ ‘Bum Bum’ Cream?


The company was acquired by the French body care retailer L’Occitane in 2021, and its sales are expected to reach $1 billion this fiscal year, according to The Business of Fashion. Several Sol de Janeiro products, including Brazilian Bum Bum Cream, are listed as best sellers on Sephora’s website.

Sol de Janeiro has built on the cream’s popularity by releasing more products with sweet scents and bright, cheerful visual profiles. It sells a dragon-fruit-scented pink tub of “Elasti-Cream” and a suite of pastel fragrance sprays. A new, limited-edition Brazilian Bum Bum Cream comes with a pack of stickers shaped like bananas, coconuts and hot-air balloons.

Rachel Azzolini, 29, who lives in Louisville, Ky., said that the bright packaging and fruity scents were what drew her 5-year-old daughter to Sol de Janeiro’s products. She said she was concerned when a Sephora employee gave her daughter a miniature sample of the Sol de Janeiro Elasti-Cream, which says it is “retinol-mimicking” on its packaging.

“I thought, I don’t want my 5-year-old using retinol,” she said.

Ms. Azzolini allowed her daughter to use the cream once she discovered that it did not actually contain retinol, a vitamin A derivative that can be irritating, especially to younger skin. She tries to avoid harsh ingredients, but otherwise said she was happy to support her daughter’s interest in skin care, despite the negative comments she sometimes sees about “Sephora kids” on social media.

“It’s not that serious,” she said. “They’re just trying to have fun.”

She recently bought her daughter a travel-size set of Sol de Janeiro creams that includes Brazilian Bum Bum Cream. She said she was not worried about her daughter engaging with the product’s language about firming and tightening. “She doesn’t even think about that stuff or comprehend that yet,” Ms. Azzolini said.

Still, the product appears to fit into a trend of young people fretting about their appearances earlier and earlier, said Charlotte H. Markey, a professor of psychology at Rutgers University and the author of a coming book on adolescents’ body image.



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