Bum Bum Cream and the Over-Fragranced Time Capsule

brazilian bum bum cream review

I inadvertently opened up what can only be described as a “beauty time capsule” the other day and was almost knocked sideways by the smell that came out of it. I was looking for some bikini hair removal cream (as you do, once a year if you’re me – it’s wedding anniversary time!) and stumbled upon a large plastic box at the back of the cupboard.

If you’re wondering how you can stumble upon anything in a cupboard (what cupboard is big enough to walk around in?) then let me tell you: I have the longest, scariest airing cupboard in the whole of England. I think it must have been part of the bathroom at one point, but someone put a wall across and had it made into a narrow, windowless room to hide the unsightly water tank. It’s almost impossibly thin, like a room that’s had the walls pushed in from either side and it has a tall ceiling, which makes it even weirder. I’m claustrophobic anyway, but venturing into this long tunnel of stacked-up linen sends my panic receptors into overdrive.

Anyway, I was walking the five hundred metres to the end of the cupboard, looking for my small toiletries bag that’s filled with things I don’t ever want anyone else to see, when I hit my shin on the edge of a big plastic box. And I suddenly remembered that I had packed all of my essentials and beauty must-haves into it before we moved house. That’s “moved house” the first time, to Bath, not the proper time, to the wilds of Somerset, so I’m talking about almost a year ago, here. A YEAR!

How I’ve lived without these essentials I’ll never know.

So I opened the lid of the box to be faced with this beauty time capsule; all of the things that had been in my en suite and next to the bathroom sink in our old house. Little glass bottles of face oil, carefully wrapped in muslin cloths, Fornasetti candles cushioned with dry flannels and padded with packs of cotton wool. It was actually rather nostalgic unwrapping it all and remembering how small Baby Ted was when we moved house, but I couldn’t really dwell on any of my thoughts due to the fact that I was being completely fumigated by a pot of Brazilian Bum Bum cream.

brazilian bum bum cream review

Have you heard about this Bum Bum body cream? It has quite the cult following and was one of the sell-out hyped-up beauty hits of last year. From Brazil – therefore approximately fifty times more desirable than things from anywhere else – it contains guarana, a potent source of caffeine, and is supposed to stimulate circulation and smooth the skin.

Does it?

God knows. I can’t honestly get past the smell. Only Thierry Mugler’s Angel body cream is on a par with this – it’s so perfumed that you could apply it today and still smell of Bum Bum come Christmas. (Crikey. So many things wrong with that sentence.) Which is great if you love the scent and – fortunately – I think I do.

I say I think, because there’s a touch of something slightly untoward going on in this Sol de Janeiro Bum Bum Cream fragrance; the majority of the scent is pure, unadulterated summer – a caramel-rich, sun-on-warm-skin sort of smell – but then there’s just the slightest hint of bad aftershave. The sort of aftershave that might have a plastic golf ball as a novelty bottle stopper.

And on the one hand I can’t get enough of it – it’s like the sexiest girl on Copacabana has rubbed herself against one of the lifeguards – but on the other hand, my (admittedly not very sophisticated) sense of smell is somewhat offended. It’s as though someone has sprayed Brut on a mermaid.

brazilian bum bum cream review

Perhaps, though, I should look at the overall picture here, which is the fact that I bloody love this Brazilian Bum Bum cream. I shouldn’t, because I have no doubt you can get similarly rich and nourishing body creams for less (it’s a whopping £44 a tub), but everything about it screams sexy holiday – and I mean SCREAMS. The packaging, which displays the name of the cream boldly around the side of the lid, rather like the waistband of a pair of designer boxer shorts, is the sort of thing you’d put in an interiors shot just to add a stylish bit of colour and typography… It’s just so ridiculously summery! If anything was going to get you in the mood for jetting off somewhere hot and drinking inadvisable amounts of Margarita then this would be it.

With regards to the bum-firming element; I’ll repeat that I have no idea. The cream is pleasingly rich, somehow also non-greasy, but I couldn’t quantify any actual results, especially from such sporadic usage. However, common sense does tell me that if you want to firm up your bum bum then you have to cut out the yum yums. There’s no cream that’ll do it for you – anyone who thinks that something in a pot, applied topically, is going to do any more than make the skin look and feel better is deluding themselves. And that comes from someone who wanted to believe for a long time that they could massage away their excesses with a bit of Clarins Body Lift.

(The Clarins one is an excellent body cream, by the way, though I do think for firming the skin and making it feel altogether tighter and smoother Murad’s body firming serum and creams are brilliant. They seem to be sold out everywhere – I hope they’re not discontinuing them.)

Anyhow, I reckon that by vigorously rubbing in the Bum Bum cream all over you burn up about fifteen to twenty calories, which is just less than a tenth of the calories in a Mint Magnum. Twice a day, vigorous rub-a-dub and by the end of the week you (I) will have cancelled out your (my) Saturday night treat. Choc ice, guilt free! God, life is too short to be that boring.

You can find the brilliantly-named Brazilian Bum Bum cream here* at Cult Beauty. For a more elegant scent and packaging and a lighter – but no less moisturising – cream, take a look at the Almond Milk Concentrate from l’Occitane. And if you want to wear your perfume all over and never, ever be able to wash it off, ever again, have a go with Thierry Mugler’s Angel Body Cream, which would stun a horse at fifty paces. Great stuff. The scent is warm and chocolatey but incredibly feminine – Debenhams currently have it on sale (here*).

Let me know if you’d like a little “tour” of the beauty time capsule – perhaps I could video it?

DISCLOSURE POLICY. Posts published after 24th January 2019: if the post contains gifted items or affiliate links then it is indicated clearly beneath the title. Posts published prior to this will have a disclosure within the body of the post and then an asterisk * marking all affiliate links. If the content is a paid-for AD then it is marked as an AD in the title. For more information on disclosure please read here. 



  1. Lisa
    August 27, 2021 / 9:44 pm

    Omg finally someone who can smell aftershave when they sniff bum bum cream! I thought it was just me! It gives off a hint of lynx Africa to me, I’m not at all keen. I LOVE the Bom dia bright cream though ❤

  2. March 23, 2019 / 3:16 am

    I bought the Bum Bum Cream 3 years ago and I have repurchased more times than I can count. I have the Body Spray in my Gym Bag, Hand Cream and occasionally the Body Wash. I admit, I’m a fan. Due to my job I can’t wear perfume, lotions or anything fragrant. So my days off, its on. Everywhere I go I get complimented on how good I smell. It’s a must have for me. Can’t say it helps my Bum, but my husband hasn’t complained yet! (;

  3. July 23, 2018 / 2:50 pm

    Agreed – this cream smells amazing! I have to be careful with it though; whenever my husband smells this on me he thinks I’m trying to seduce him (he loves the smell too, you see). I received the travel size but think I’ll have to get the larger one when it’s done, it’s soo good!

    Angela at Blush & Pearls

  4. Laura Wilson-North
    July 23, 2018 / 1:31 pm

    I rarely find myself snorting into my keyboard with laughter, but this did the trick nicely. I absolutely love the way you write – it’s something I aspire to. Thanks for the laugh and yes please to the time capsule! x

  5. July 23, 2018 / 12:17 pm

    Really want to try this! The price always puts me off though.

  6. July 23, 2018 / 8:06 am

    I´d love to see a post on your forgotten beauty essentials. If you don’t count on the calorie torching application process, this might actually be well worth the money, as you probably need to apply it four times a season and be summer scented for as long as the sun is out.

    Anne – Linda, Libra, Loca

  7. Jennie Shively
    July 22, 2018 / 9:32 pm

    Ruth – a tour please! And a tour of the long dark tunnel!

    It is always more fun to open up boxes and storage areas that belong to other people – and not your own…. :)

  8. ElizabethM
    July 22, 2018 / 9:28 pm

    God I do so know what you mean! I bought this a few weeks ago and have only used it twice. Not because I don’t like it or think it does a good job (my skin is so soft afterwards) but because the scent is so strong I daren’t wear it, especially at work! After one morning application my bed smelt of it for days (until changed basically). It is insanely strong snelling. In all honesty, much as I like the smell, I’d prefer it dialled down a bit.

  9. Rachel
    July 22, 2018 / 5:39 pm

    21 years ago I was about 10 weeks pregnant and squashed on a boiling tube with someone wearing too much Angel. The mere sight of the bottle still makes me want to vom in my handbag. Is that what they mean when the say smell is evocative??

  10. Mim
    July 22, 2018 / 12:28 pm

    This had me in stitches. You are such a good writer Ruth! You are bang on about angel body cream, maybe even 60 paces.

  11. Helene
    July 22, 2018 / 12:10 pm

    I have the Bum Bum Cream in my bathroom, but haven’t used it yet as I’m a bit scared I might offend someone with a sensitive nose :)
    I really like the scent, though and now, after reading your entertaining post about it, I’ll probably try it tomorrow.
    I rarely post, but I do love reading your blog. Reading it makes me want more. A book, Ruth?

    I also love the small parts we’ve seen of your house. It seems you live in my dream house. Lucky you and your family.

  12. MsDinoGal
    July 22, 2018 / 12:09 pm

    Oh my gosh. That scent! Bum Bum Cream was an immediate return for me. It was so overpowering that it started making me feel ill throughout the day; I couldn’t escape it! It was like the sea-sickness of fragrance. I feel bad for the poor souls who manufacture the stuff. If one pot is that powerful, how must their factory smell? I bet they can never get it out of their skin/hair/nostrils… Bum Bum Cream is what happens when you take the illusion of Brazilian summer, mix in the allure of near-perfect genetics, add the promise of replicability of both to women in [Utah/Somerset/Kiev], and then weaponize it. Hard pass.

  13. Gill
    July 22, 2018 / 8:13 am

    I couldn’t make my mind up about the bum bum cream scent for a while, then realised that the wafts of what smelt like playdoh were from my legs so I gave up with it. Shame as I too thought I loved it but realised I just thought I should . Fortunately Selfridges at the time had a travel size so I hadn’t spent the full eyewatering amount!

  14. Asheena Naicker
    July 22, 2018 / 5:03 am

    I have heard about this product and I’m interested

  15. Poorani
    July 22, 2018 / 2:05 am

    You got me hooked on this a while back and I haven’t tried anything better. I also love the eucalyptus body scrub from Bliss for winter, thanks to you.

  16. Eliza
    July 21, 2018 / 10:42 pm

    haha. lay off the yum yums. :). Yes…I love a good time capsule! esp of the beauty sort. Actually, I’d like a tour (or even a quick still shot looksie) of that random closet/ not closet space. You can’t scare this one.

  17. Jan Kelley
    July 21, 2018 / 9:03 pm

    You really made me laugh. The first time I opened a tub of BumBum Cream I said whoa. I do find myself draw by it’s sweetness. I can shut my eyes and envision a tropical island surrounded by plumeria, white ginger, coconut etc. I don’t use consistently enough to speak to it’s ability to firm. In fact, I don’t use it very often. My husband gets all happy and says, ”ooo, you are wearing your street walker cream.” So, I am actively trying to re home it.

  18. Susan Schaefer
    July 21, 2018 / 8:14 pm

    Yes, please to the tour of the beauty time capsule!!

  19. Denise Smith
    July 21, 2018 / 6:28 pm

    Oh yes, please do tour thy smelly time capsule!

  20. Beka
    July 21, 2018 / 6:04 pm

    I would love to see your time capsule :)

  21. Kalyna
    July 21, 2018 / 2:18 pm

    Yes, please! A video tour of your beauty time capsule!

  22. sophie
    July 21, 2018 / 1:55 pm

    definitely would love to see! honestly you light up my week with your hilarious posts xxx

    • July 22, 2018 / 9:50 pm

      Thanks Sophie, that’s really kind!! : )

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