Imagine if I told you that you could have bigger boobs and a shapelier butt just by smearing some all-natural cream onto your body—would you believe me?
A couple of months ago Kylie Jenner made that bet when she let 35 million of her closest friends in on a little "beauty secret." Or, more accurately, a big beauty secret, as it was a glimpse into how the youngest Kardashian sister allegedly maintains voluptuous curves in only the right places.
In a gushing Instagram post, Kylie, then 17 years old, introduced followers to two products from PureLeef, a company that sells "natural products" to help ladies maintain today's elusive yet highly popular slim-yet-curvy physique.
"@PureLeef's butt enhancement cream & Breast plumping lotion stimulate fat cells in the target areas," reads Kylie's caption, below two close-up selfies of the target areas she mentioned. "I started seeing results after only a month of consistent use."
She encouraged her fans to visit the company's website and ended the post with #curvesonfleek—a catchall hashtag that basically means "my curves are on point." The comments on the post, of which there are more than 200,000, range from skepticism that Kylie's curves come from a bottle to declarations like "I need this product!!"
But do you? With PureLeef's butt and hip-enhancing product selling out on Amazon, I wanted to know—what the f**k is this cream? Is there any reason to believe Kylie Jenner's curves are so #onfleek just because she rubbed some goo on her butt?
I reached out to PureLeef LLC, whose office headquarters are in Atlanta, but the company was tightlipped. The only response I got was a brief note from a manager named Tamara (no last name), who told me that "Kylie's post did give our company a lift, it certainly didn't hurt us : )." '
After that, my many follow-up attempts went unanswered.
So I turned to the PureLeef Facebook page for information, where the company describes itself as "a healthy body image solution company." The page was created in November 14, 2012, but the company appears to have been slow in creating a web presence after that. According to Whois.net, pureleef.com wasn't registered until August 12, 2014. The company registered as a business with the state of Georgia a few days later on August 26, 2014 and the first PureLeef Instagram post—a picture of their Butt & Body Plumping Cream—was uploaded around the first week of January 2015.
The shrouded company appears to carry two products—the Butt & Body Plumping Cream for $47, and a Breast Plumping Lotion for $49. Both products promise the same basic thing, delivered in slightly different packages: increased fat growth for fuller, curvier bodies.
PureLeef's Instagram account is filled with before-and-after pictures that show astonishing differences. The women in the posts certainly seem to have bigger butts and plumper breasts after repeated use! And there are even more success stories on PureLeef's testimonial page, which boasts Kylie Jenner as "A HAPPY PURELEEF CUSTOMER."
In a market flooded with products for minimizing cellulite, shrinking fat, and making female bodies smaller, PureLeef promises exactly the opposite. Yet the products aren't FDA approved, since they're cosmetics—and they certainly aren't medicine. So what are they?
The active ingredients in PureLeef's creams are mostly plant-based, making them good enough for Kylie, who wrote in her Instagram caption that "All Natural ingredients" are very important to her. To learn more, I asked Snehal Amin, surgical director at the Manhattan Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery, to take a look at the PureLeef products for me. He said none of the ingredients are out of the ordinary for cosmetic creams, and pointed out that the butt and hip cream contains hyaluronic acid, a popular ingredient in plumping moisturizers that's also used in injectable fillers. Hyaluronic acid is also the main ingredient in the probable lip fillers Kylie gets to make her smoocher so pouty. Hmm. Interesting!
With regular, twice daily use, this hyaluronic acid and all the other ingredients in PureLeef creams are supposed to work together to "stimulate your body’s own fat production exclusively at the area on which the cream is applied." This happens, so says the item descriptions on the website, by "naturally influencing the growth of adipose (fat) tissue, resulting in more volume and a shapelier butt."
This all sounds very nice and good if a fatter hiney is what you want. But Amin is skeptical that the products work as promised. For a topical cream to stimulate fat production, it would have to first seep beneath a very thick and protective layer of skin that's designed for keeping things out of our bodies.
"Generally, you’d have to inject something into the skin to see any fat growth, so it’s hard to imagine how the creams could really affect fat growth," he told me. Yet there are some creams, like Retin-A, that can thicken the skin for a plumper appearance.
Amin said there are other ways to increase skin volume, too, ranging from simple, mechanical solutions, like regular massage to stimulate blood flow, to more medical solutions, like injecting plasma rich blood platelets back into the skin (something Kylie's older sister Kim did recently). But again, that's just skin. And Kylie's product, PureLeef, promises something deeper: fat.
The key to something like PureLeef working on fat tissue would be deep absorption—can the creams get below the skin and actually increase the fat? So far, there aren't any readily available studies showing absorption or efficacy rates for PureLeef's products.
Wondering whether or not PureLeef works in practice (despite all skepticism against it from Amin), and unwilling to try it out for myself, I sourced some customer assessments from Amazon. The most highly rated positive review sounds promising, although one may consider the fact that performing squats three times a week might be enough to amplify the hip and butt area without cosmetic creams.
Other, less glowing reviewers feel they've been duped and warn against unfavorable conditions caused by increased fat (like "flabby ass").
The most popular critical review warns of a mysterious rash.
And this reviewer has helpful information for anyone who's looking for a fun, new sensation.
As a whole, the 91 reviews on the Amazon page for PureLeef's Body Plumping Cream (Butt & Hip Enhancement Cream) NATURAL PRODUCT were about 50/50 split between positive and negative opinions, resulting in a 3.3 star rating. As I mentioned before, as of press time, the product was sold out on the site, and there's no telling when or if Amazon will have more in stock. The breast enhancing product is also sold on Amazon, through a third-party seller, and has a slightly lower 2.2 star rating.
Of course, the most glowing review PureLeef has received isn't on Amazon—it's on Instagram. Surely a good review from Kylie Jenner, a teen celeb, is of more value and importance than a negative review from some plebeian on Amazon. And it's hard to believe Kylie would share a bunk product with her millions of followers. Especially since she reportedly wasn't paid for the big endorsement.
There are theories about why Kylie would give a big thumbs up to such a mysterious, questionable cosmetic. One popular one is that she's trying to debunk rumors that her adult woman physique is actually the result of breast implants and butt injections, not "natural" creams or genetics.
Whatever the reason behind her endorsement, it's unlikely the products are creating the promised effect. Sure, maybe Kylie Jenner really does slather plant root mixed with hyaluronic acid on her boobs and butt every morning and night—but according to Amin, the most that could feasibly do (as far as he can tell) is make her skin a bit thicker. Which, metaphorically speaking, might be a good thing.
Hannah Smothers is a reporter for Fusion's Sex & Life section, a Texpat, and a former homecoming princess.