How Sol de Janeiro Became TikTok’s Favorite Fragrance Brand

“Okay, bitch. I got them,” Paul Fino proclaims in a TikTok video from January. The fragrance influencer, who boasts a following of 1.3 million, shows off his latest haul: five perfumed body mists from Sol de Janeiro, the beauty brand best known for its skin-firming Brazilian Bum Bum Cream.

Fino proceeds to sample the sprays, all of which receive glowing reviews from the content creator. “Oh my god… Why is Sol de Janeiro so good?!” he shrieks after sniffing Cheirosa ‘39, a blend of coconut, vanilla, and praline. Fino isn’t alone in his enthusiasm — despite Sol de Janiero’s beginnings as a skincare brand, its line of scents has become an unexpected hit among TikTok’s community of fragrance enthusiasts.

Sol de Janeiro was founded in 2015 by Heela Yang, a former beauty executive with experience at cosmetic giants like Estée Lauder, L’Oréal, and Clinique. In 2008, Yang relocated from New York City to Brazil to be with her husband. While living there, she was struck by locals’ carefree attitude towards bodies and nakedness. In Brazil, no one blinks twice if you wear a micro-bikini to the beach, no matter your shape or size. 

With Sol de Janeiro, Yang hopes to bring a bit of Brazilians’ celebratory, self-confident flair to body care — and clearly, her approach is working. The brand’s Bum Bum Cream, a shimmery body moisturizer that smells like pistachio and salted caramel, is a favorite among celebs like Selena Gomez, Blake Lively, and Hilary Duff. According to the brand, one jar of the fragrant cream sells every eight seconds.

Sol de Janeiro launched its first fragrance — Cheirosa ‘62, a $24 spray recreating the sugary smell of its beloved Bum Bum cream — in 2020, right before the pandemic hit. It was a success despite the timing, and sold out on Sephora’s website days after launch. Yang says the brand’s expansion into scent was simply the result of staying in tune with its customers. “We didn’t start out by saying, ‘We’re going to be a fragrance brand,’ or even, ‘One day, we’re going to be a fragrance brand,’” she says. “But we always listen to our customers, and we launched the perfume mist in the same scent as the Brazilian Bum Bum Cream because they asked for it.” Since then, the brand has expanded its fragrance collection with a range of similarly edible-smelling body sprays inspired by Brazilian culture. 

It wasn’t until 2022 that Fino began noticing the sprays on TikTok. “[Sol de Janeiro] took social media by storm,” he tells Highsnobiety. “I didn’t care about the brand until I tried it myself. To be honest, there’s a million brands that sell body sprays — I wasn’t sure how this body spray for 25 bucks, 26 bucks was going to impress me more than a body spray that I normally buy for 10 to 15 bucks.” But Fino quickly changed his mind after sampling Cheirosa ‘68, a fruity floral that reminds him of Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Baccarat Rouge 540, which retails between $205 and $645 a bottle. “It was like a domino effect,” he says. “Every scent after that I would purchase and fall in love with more and more.” 

Sol de Janeiro’s body mists cost more than your average drugstore find, but their $24 to $38 price point is far more accessible than that of designer eau de parfums, which contain a higher concentration of perfume oils and usually price in the hundreds. And while Sol de Janeiro did introduce a more concentrated version of its Cheirosa ‘62 body mist a couple of years back, it’s still relatively affordable at $78.

Funmi Monet, a beauty, fragrance, and lifestyle content creator, suspects Sol de Janeiro’s pricing is part of the reason its fragrances are so popular. “If you’re looking for something that you want to splurge on that’s a step above Bath & Body Works, but not quite as pricey as a perfume from Chanel or Dior, Sol de Janeiro does a really good job of feeling approachable,” she says. Of course, the brand’s body mists don’t have the same staying power as traditional eau de parfums — but Monet notes that their compact, plastic packaging “encourages you to be able to throw it in your bag and reapply it throughout the day.”

Monet, who has collaborated with Sol de Janeiro on paid content, considers the sprays a natural extension of — rather than a distraction from — its signature body care collection. “Their mists are well-integrated into the rest of their body care line with the matching body washes, the matching body butters, et cetera,” she says. “If I use this body wash and this body cream in the same scent, then it makes sense to also use the perfume mist.”

There’s also the fact that Sol de Janeiro’s fragrance line smells good enough to eat. Gourmands, once considered unsophisticated, have reentered the limelight over the past year or so, whetting everyone’s appetite with nostalgic, comforting notes like vanilla and caramel. “Five or 10 years ago, you’d wear a sweet fragrance and you’re looked at as immature,” Fino says. “Now, everyone wants to smell sweet. Everyone desires that candy scent.” 

Monet likens the crowd-pleasing gourmands that Sol de Janeiro specializes in to the food served at restaurant chain Chili’s. “If you want a burger, you go to Chili’s, because you know it’s going to be dependable. Sometimes fragrance can be the same way,” she says. “Although you might be someone who prefers caviar and Wagyu steak, most people want a burger. That’s where brands like Sol de Janeiro come in, because they’re able to create fragrances and body products that are palatable to the general public. The average person walking into the store is not thinking, ‘Ugh, which region of France did this scent originate from?’ They’re thinking, ‘This smells good. This is something I can see myself wearing,’ and I think that’s smart.”

Sol de Janeiro’s commitment to all things sweet and sugary has paid off — but at launch, not everyone believed in its dessert-y perfumes. “When we launched in 2015, we were advised to avoid gourmand fragrances,” Yang says. At the time, the genre of scents wasn’t considered luxurious enough to befit a prestige beauty brand like Sol de Janeiro. “However, we trusted our gut, remained obsessively true to our brand’s DNA, and laser-focused on delivering a unique, sensorial experience to our consumers.” 

Sol de Janeiro’s most recent fragrance, a limited-edition mist dubbed After Hours, launched in August to glowing reviews from creators (Fino included). According to Yang, the brand’s fragrances have already generated four times the number of sales in 2022 — so it’s no surprise that it has several new scents slated to launch next year. In the meantime, Fino will continue to sing the brand’s praises. “The products are amazing. That’s why we’re all gooped and gagged over them, and why we all continue to post [about them],” he says, adding that Sol de Janeiro has never gifted him product (in other words, he buys their fragrances organically). “I mean, I would love to work with them in the future but as of right now, I’m solely a fan of the company. That’s it.”