Experiment - Duping a popular Body Cream

Duping SOL Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream – I am calling my version ‘Firming Tropical Body Cream’

My approach to duping products is not to replicate exactly, but make them my own. 

Often, we’ll love a product but wish it smelt a little more subtle, or that it absorbed better, or left a silky feel on the skin.

This is what I want to do here.

First a disclaimer.  I am trying to recreate this for fun, to better understand the ingredients and how they work together.  I am self-taught and I learn a lot from these experiments, and hope you do too.  The end product, if successful, will be for personal use and will not be for sale. 

It is MUCH less expensive for you to go out and purchase this product from the rightful creators.  However, if you are already a cosmetic formulator and you like experimenting with dupes, then read on and watch the video, as it can be a lot of fun figuring these things out. 

So out of fairness and respect to them for being the creators of the original, you can buy it here https://soldejaneiro.com/products/brazilian-bum-bum-cream?variant=7006559436844 in the USA or from many various UK online retailers.

I am not affiliated with this product and this is not a paid promotion, purely my own opinion and experiment.

The ingredients list for SOL Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream is vast, and some I struggle to get here in the UK, so the best thing to do to work out the key ingredients.

The purpose of the cream is ‘as it says on the tub’:

  • Fast-absorbing body cream
  • Visibly tighten the appearance of skin

To this I’d add my own wants:

  • The scent
  • The colour
  • The viscosity

So, we need to look at the ingredients list and pick out the ingredients that will contribute to these things.

The scent I have covered.  A lovely company called Soak Rochford (linked below the video) have created their own fragrance oil called Coco Cabana, it’s not identical, but it is incredibly similar (slightly more tropical) and (I believe) inspired by this cream, so go grab yourself some of that if you want to make this!  They have kindly given us a discount code for you to use if you would like to buy some.  Use ‘5ForYou’ at checkout to get 5% OFF your purchase.  They also ship worldwide.

Colour is simple, we have pigments and mica that we can use to give the slight orange hue.

The viscosity will be controlled by the emulsifiers and thickeners, so we’ll pick those accordingly.

Being fast absorbing will depend on the oils and butters used, for which, I’ll be using the same as those listed.  The dodecane also helps to prevent the greasy feeling, so I’ll need to look into getting this or replacing with an ester of similar function.

There are many ingredients that fall into the ‘visibly tight the appearance of skin’ category, so I’ll be buying as many of those as I can find.

The only ingredients that may be difficult as the emulsifying ingredients.  Many of them are not readily available (from what I can see), so I will likely have to pick an all-in-one emulsifier to replace those and hope that it works well with the additional stabilizers.  Which one you use is up to you based on skin feel and charge.  Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/sodium Acryloydimethyl Taurate copolymer (Sepinov EMT 10) is listed in the ingredients, and if using this anionic thickener, you cannot use a cationic emulsifying wax like BTMS-50, which is sad as I love the feel of this when used in creams.  I’m going to stick with what’s actually on the ingredients list though and found this at Alexmo Cosmetics along with the other emulsifiers, and it’s good to try new ingredients.

It all really depends on ingredient availability and preference.

Anyway, now you know my chaotic thought process on this (remember I am self-taught), let’s look at the spreadsheet I go through at the beginning of the video.

Below, I’ve listed out the ingredients and their functions.  I’ve then put the recommended usage rate range for each of them in my excel spreadsheet, and any notes on how they should be added to the formulation.  From this, we can then compile our formula.

Actual Ingredients




Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate

Skin softening emollient ester emulsifier

Phenyl Trimethicone

Hydrating sealing occulsive and contitioning agent


Texturising emollient, prevent greasy feeling  

Caprylic/capric trigleyceride

Binds other ingredients, smooths the skin, antioxidant

Glyceryl Stearate Citrate

Emollient, emulsifier and surfactant



Cetearyl alcohol

Soften skin, thicken and stabilise the product

Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic acid)

Anti-aging, moisturising, firming, smooths fine lines, hydrates

coconut oil

Moisturising, minimised fine lines

Acai Oil

Improves skins elasticity, assists in unclogging pores and cell regeneration

Cupuacu butter

emollient, restores elasticity, make skin supple, smooth and more elastic

Brazil nut seed oil

Moisturising, protects the skin, adds glow

Carrot seed oil

Gives skin a firmer fresher appearance by helping the body remove toxins and water build-up in the dermal tissue

Guarana Seed extract

Softens and hydrates, invigorates and revitalizes the skin

Ilex Guayusa leaf extract

Skin protecting

Ilex Paraguariensis leaf extract


Distilled Alcohol

aids ingredient skin penetration. Helps to make a lightweigh formula, anitmicrobial, viscosity controlling. Part of the extracts ingredients, don’t add more.

bixa orellana seed extract

reduces appearance of pores, purifying and skin smoothing


Vitamin e antioxidant


Detoxifier that fights skin damage and free radicals, can boost collagen production producing firmer skin

sorbitan Isostearate

A mild cleansing agent and emulsifier that helps to disperse insoluble particles to product a nice smooth even cream

Sodium phytate

Moisturises, improves skins elasticity and balances oily skin, also used to stabilize products and enhance preservative efficacy.

Sodium stearoyl glutamate

Gentle conditioning moisturiser and emulsifier, similar ph to skin.

Glycerol caprylate

Co-emulsifier to stabilize emulsions and also balances the skins oils and acts as a skin humidifier.  Skin conditioning and refatting properties.  Boosts preservative efficacy.

Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/sodium Acryloydimethyl Taurate copolymer

Sepinov EMT 10 a gelling anionic thickener and emulsifying agent that stabilises the emulsion and gives good creaminess





Xanthan gum


Cetyl Alcohol

Stabilises the emulsion, thickens and adds to creamy feel






Remaining ingredients listed are ‘allergens’ from within the others which must be listed, and CI numbers which I’ve referred to above as Mica.

Creating the formula:

From searching for ingredients, I could not find some individually, but I’ve found an emulsifier that contains 3 of the ingredients: Combimuls GC MB, this contains Glyceryl Stearates Citrates, Cetearyl Alcohol and Glyceryl Caprylates.  I don’t know if the levels are accurate to the actual formulation, but it’s as close as I’m likely to get at this point, so that’s one emulsifier ticked off.

The other is the Sepinov EMT 10 – the Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/sodium Acryloydimethyl Taurate copolymer. 

Then lastly Emulsan II MB - Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate. 

The rest are co-emulsifiers/stabilisers.

The biggest issue we have with this formula is the extracts.  1) They are expensive if you are just buying to make this yourself and 2) they are very hard to find.  What I’ve found is the Tincture versions.  A tincture is an extract, but not all extracts as tinctures.  A tincture hosts the extract in alcohol, water, glycerine.  An extract will be mostly oil based. However, since distilled alcohol is listed in the ingredients anyway, and a tincture is all that I can find.  I am opting for the Guarana extract tincture.  It’s a main ingredient, mentioned in their marketing and a small amount of alcohol in the final product will provide more benefits than drawbacks.  This will be the listed Distilled alcohol.

I am omitting the Ilex Paraguariensis leaf extract as its use as far as I can tell is just perfuming, and I have the scent from the fragrance oil that I’ll be using.

Phenoxyethanol and Ethylhexylglycerine are listed separately, and it’s likely that SOL Janeiro have their own preservative system, but as I’m not up to that task just yet, I’m opting for a nice broad- spectrum preservative called Saliguard PCG which is good for use in creams.

A few of the ingredients that I can’t find.

  • Sodium stearoyl glutamate
  • Sorbitan Isostearate
  • bixa orellana seed extract
  • Dodecane
  • Phenyl Trimethicone

The Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate is another emulsifying ingredient.  Since the emulsifiers I already have can happily emulsify well enough, I’m going to admit defeat and leave this out.

The Sorbitan Isostearate seems impossible to get hold of.  I can find Sorbitan Stearate, which far as I can tell would do similar, or I could replace with a little Stearic acid, but again, their jobs are overall different, so I think I’ll leave it out.

Bixa orellana seed extract sounds like a fantastic addition, but I can only find seed form and not an oil extract, so sadly, I’m going to have to leave this one out.  If you find it, let me know!

Dodecane is an emollient that helps the end product feel non-greasy.  I can’t find this anywhere, so I’m going to replace with C12-15 Alky Benzoate, as I know that produces a similar effect and I like the way it feels in creams.

Phenyl Trimethicone, again I can’t find anywhere.  It’s a hydration sealing occlusive silicone, and it’s also conditioning.  Dimethicone would be the closest thing I can think of to this for inclusion.

So, my final ingredients list looks like this: (in original order for now)

Aqua, Emulsan II MB, , Dimethicone, C12-15 Alky Benzoate, Caprylic/capric trigleyceride, Combimulse GC MB, Parfum, ULMW Hyaluronic acid, Coconut Oil, Acai Oil, Cupuacu butter, Brazil nut seed oil, Carrot seed oil, Guarana Seed extract (tincture), Ilex Guayusa leaf extract (tincture), Saliguard PCG, Tocopherol (vitamin e), Squalane, Sodium Phytate, Sepinov EMT 10, Glycerine, Xanthan Gum, Cetyl Alcohol, Mica

Next, we work out based on how they work, what phases they go into and what percentages to use them at!

First, I write all of the ingredients in the correct phases based on their solubility and heat tolerance.

Then, I look at the placement of them in the original formulas ingredients list, and their typical/recommended percentage usage rate.  These two things will help me to make a ‘best guess’ at the percentage they may be used at.

I may need to tweak this based on the fact that I’m using a combination emulsifier with its own recommended usage rate. There is also the fact that these particular emulsifiers can emulsify a high percentage of oils, so should work well at the recommended levels.

The interesting thing when you look at the ingredients is that Parfum is above the oils and Hyaluronic acid. I don’t know what concentration they used or even what they used, so I can only speculate, but for my particular fragrance, I would need to use 2% max to avoid it being overpowering.  Also, the Hyaluronic acid that I am using has a usage rate of between 0.1 and 1%, but it doesn’t specify which type they are using.  For the purpose of this, I’m going to have to assume that it’s at the maximum of 1% and that the carrier oils and butter listed below it are at 1% inclusion or less. However, I know that my hyaluronic acid performs well at 0.2% and there is no point wasting an expensive ingredient if you don’t need to, so I’m capping that at 0.2%.

Extracts will be added as if they were essential oils, and I know from positioning they are likely 1% or under, so I’m basing my guesses on that.  Then Tocopherol and Squalane come after these, so they are likely less than 1% each.

My preservative is going to be different from theirs as I explained earlier, so that will fall elsewhere in the list for me at 2% which is the recommended inclusion rate for a cream.

This leaves us with everything else under Squalane, which is the Sepinov EMT 10, Glycerine, Xanthan Gum, Cetyl Alcohol and Mica.

The Sepinov we know goes in the water phase and based on recommended usage, will be at 0.3-2%.  Given where it falls, under the Sodium Phytate which is being used at 0.5% it’s going to be between 0.3% and 0.5%.  If I put it under 0.5% then the remaining ingredients are lessened.

This last bit is a bit alien to me, as I’m used to the glycerine, xanthan gum and cetyl alcohol being used at higher rates. 

So, before we decide on where to put the Sodium Phytate, Glycerine, Xanthan Gum, Cetyl Alcohol and Mica, let’s first think about what these do and how much we want them in the formula.

Glycerine is a humectant, so I’d want that to be more on the higher end.  It’s being used under 1% so won’t be sticky, so we want the humectant benefits as much as possible. 

Xanthan gum is a difficult one, as I have made this yet, so don’t yet know how thick the emulsion would be. 

Cetyl Alcohol also helps to thicken, stabilize and give a nice feel.

Mica, I know I won’t need much of, as the colour is subtle.

I think Sodium Phytate 0.5%, Glycerine 0.5%, Xanthan gum, 0.3%, Cetyl Alcohol 0.3% and Mica 0.2%

Now I think I have all my percentages and phases figured out, I’ll put them in % order in each phase, add them all up and whatever is left to make up to 100% will be the Distilled water.

The formula and method for a 200g batch – Firming Tropical body cream

Prep Phase – make hyaluronic acid 1% stock – bottle to use when needed)
98.5% (98.5g) Distilled Water
1% (1g) Hyaluronic acid powder
(0.5g)  Water-Soluble Broad-Spectrum Preservative

Hydrate for 24-48 hours and put aside for cool down phase

Phase A – Water Phase
49.5% (99g) Distilled Water
0.5% (1g) Sodium Phytate
0.5% (1g) Glycerine
0.3% (0.6g) Sepinov EMT 10
0.3% (0.6g) Xanthan Gum
0.1% (0.2g) Mica

Add the Sodium Phytate into a small amount of the water in a beaker and mix until dissolved.  This requires persistence and agitation, but don’t worry it will dissolve. I’m doing this separately since I will be sheer mixing the Sepinov emt 10, and since I’ve not worked with Sepinov before, I wanted to ensure it had the best chance of mixing, by incorporating it in a separate beaker first.
In a larger beaker sheer mix the sepinov emt 10 in the rest of the water for 5-10 minutes until dissolved or until clear.  So long as there are no lumps or graininess you are ok to move on.
Mix the Xanthan gum and mica into the glycerine.
Add the three mixtures together in one beaker, stir, then weigh and note weight down and heat in Bain Marie.

Phase B – Oil Phase
4% (8g) Emulsan II MB
4% (8g) Dimethicone
3% (6g) C12-15 Alky Benzoate
3% (6g) Caprylic / Capric Triglycerides
3% (6g) Combimulse
1% (2g) Coconut Oil
1% (2g) Acai Oil
1% (2g) Cupuacu Butter
1% (2g) Brazil Nut Seed Oil
0.5% (1g) Squalane
0.3% (0.6g) Cetyl Alcohol

Add all phase B ingredients to a beaker and heat in a Bain Marie until melted and both oil and water phases are around the same temperature. 
Re-weigh your water phase and replace any water that has evapourated.
Add water phase to oil phase and mix with stick blender or high sheer overhead stirrer until you have an emulsion.
Leave to cool to 40 degrees C

Phase C – Cool Down Phase
20% (40g) Hydrated Hyaluronic Acid from earlier prep
2% (4g) Saliguard PCG
2% (4g) Coco Cabana Fragrance Oil
1% (2g) Carrot Seed Oil
1% (2g) Guarana Seed extract
0.5% (1g) Ilex Guayusa leaf extract
0.5% (1g) Tocopherol

Add all phase C ingredients to your emulsion and stir by hand until fully incorporated.

Take a small amount out to check and adjust ph.  We want around 4.5-5.5 

I had to adjust down with a 50/50 distilled water/citric acid stock.

Checking pH

When making something for the first time, I will check the pH at the end.  This is so I can see the effect on the pH of all ingredients in the finished product.

I will note down my adjustment, then include it in the formula for next time.  That way the pH reading at the end should just be a formality.  However, note that your first batch may not be as effective if you have read the pH last, if your pH affects any of your ingredients, as there may have been sufficient time between taking the pH and adjusting, for the ingredients to be negatively impacted.  I can’t be sure of this, but like to be cautious.

Did it work? The results

Comparing the two:

SOL Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream

Firming tropical Body Cream

Nice medium strength scent that lingers on skin

Subtle pastel orange colour

Beautifully silky medium thick cream

Appearance is shiny and smooth

Absorbs very fast

Leaves a gorgeous powdery silk feel on skin

No movement in container if turned upside down


Pleasant scent, could do with more fragrance oil if IFRA allows, as extracts and oils are quite pungent.

Silky and shiny and smooth in appearance

Colour darker, due to dark coloured oils and extracts

Absorbs just as fast as original

Leaves a gorgeous powdery feel on skin like original.

Thinner viscosity than original, but still nice.

Was it worth it?

In terms of enjoyment yes.  It was a challenge.  I learnt a lot from this experiment and I’ve ended up with a product that I am proud of and will enjoy using (once I’ve finished the one it was based on!).

The scent needs work, I have a feeling that more fragrance oil will be needed to mask the extracts and natural earthy oil scents.

The viscosity is thinner than the original, and likely down to tweaking the Xanthan Gum, Cetyl Alcohol and emulsifiers.  So, I’d up these slightly when making again.

In financial terms, no, haha!  Unless you happen to have all of these ingredients already and have them in constant use for other projects, then no… it’s expensive to buy all the individual ingredients, especially if they aren’t easily found.  That’s multiple suppliers and multiple shipping costs.

However, experiments like this teach you new ways to use ingredients, how to find substitutes and how to be a better formulator.  I’m sure from a professional cosmetic chemists’ point of view, my dupe formula has all sorts of errors, but like I say, I’m self-taught and this is how I improve.

I hope you enjoyed this, now you should probably go buy the actual cream, as they do it better and it really is quite nice! (no affiliation, just my opinion!).

Where I purchased the Ingredients:

Soak Rochford – Use code Revega5 for 5% off your first order
Soap Kitchen
Naturally Thinking
Skin and Hair Manufacturer
Alexmo Cosmetics
Indigo Herbs



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