In a world where they regularly #breaktheinternet, I don’t have terribly strong feelings about the Kardashian-Jenner clan. I mean, I find them interesting on a societal level—the fact that they’re this famous speaks a lot about what we currently find important and rewardable—and I respect their empire-building hustle, but other than that, I don’t care. I see what they’re selling; I’m just not buying it.
And truly, they’re selling a lot of stuff—especially on Instagram. Kim was endorsing prescription medication Diclegas on her account, until she was slapped with an FDA warning letter and took the post down. Khloe, with her newly blonde locks, is constantly posting about the Kardashian line of hair styling tools. But the true Insta-shill of the family has turned out to be Kylie Jenner, who has leveraged her significant social media following to hawk everything from hair extensions to detox tea.
But my favorite moment in Kylie’s distinguished endorsement-gram career so far has been when she told all 33 million of her followers that her curvaceous figure is not the result of genetics or a personal trainer, but because of a “butt enhancement cream” and “breast plumping lotion” from a brand called PureLeef.
Even though no sponsorship disclosure happens anywhere on this post, one can assume that Kylie was paid serious money to lie endorse this brand. I know full well that no cream in the world is going to “stimulate fat cells”—something which would classify it as a drug and leave it open to regulation by the FDA—and give anyone a bigger ass.
And yet. There’s a part of me that’s curious about this “plumping cream.” It must have some effect, the part of me that still believes in integrity says. I wonder what they are—temporarily smoothing? Plumping the skin’s surface? Maybe minor swelling?
There was only one way to find out.
As someone who occasionally does vain things for a living and is not being paid a fortune by shady Instagram companies, I decided to put Pureleef to the test. I ordered the butt plumping cream to see if it would engineer me a Kardashian ass.
Here’s what happened.
Before I begin, I take stock of my raw material. My butt is fine—certainly not Kardashian-Jenner levels of rotundity, but it’s decent. It fits my frame and I’m generally pretty happy with it.
Kylie claimed that she applied Pureleef twice a day for a month to see results, but I write for the internet and I don’t have that kind of time. I decide to apply it four times a day for two weeks, a hitherto unknown level of dedication to my own ass.
Even though this is kind of a silly thing to do, I decide to approach my butt cream experiment with a scientific attitude. To that end, for the duration of this study, I will not alter my diet or engage in any workouts that might target my ass, as both things could affect my results. I will apply the cream four times a day and measure my butt in two weeks to see the results. Since this product is meant to “stimulate fat cells,” size should be the variable that changes, but I will also monitor tightness, lift and skin tone for any appreciable difference.
At the outset, my ass measures 35 1/4 inches. Respectable.
My boyfriend and I speculate on the possible results I might see.
“What if it makes your butt genuinely huge?” he says.
“What if it makes me sprout dozens of tiny butts all over my butt?” I wonder.
I do not sprout multiple mini-butts. I do, however, develop a deep aversion to the smell. The site claims that there is no fragrance—just a tingling sensation, which is definitely there—but it smells like cheap, fake mint, which I do not like. Say what you will about the Kardashian-Jenner clan, but the one thing they aren’t is cheap; I can’t imagine Kylie ever using this based on the smell alone. I mean, how would it pair with Kim’s perfume?
I’m also really close to being written up by HR. “Guys, what do you think about my ass?” I ask my colleagues at least once a day. The responses range from blushing to complaints about my outfit choices: “How are we supposed to see your bum if you don’t wear pants?” Cady asks me.
That’s another thing: this cream has been dictating my fashion choices. Because it’s slow to absorb and stinks, I don’t want to wear anything super-nice in case it stains my clothing. And because I’m applying it four times a day—twice while at work—it’s easier to wear skirts and dresses, rather than my usual tight jeans. Besides, what if the smell permeates my denim? Gross.
At the end of the first week, my ass looks, feels and measures exactly the same as it did: it just smells like off-brand gum and is permanently tingling. Oh, the glamour! Viva la Jenner!
I try to approach the second week of this experiment with a good attitude, but that is seriously put to the test when, on day seven, I develop a series of red bumps on my derrière. By day eight, they’ve turned into straight-up zits—and one in particular is gigantic, painful and cystic. I know in my heart that they’ve been caused by the cream, as I’ve never in my 30 years of life had butt acne.
“I have ass pimples!” I frantically email my editor. She is horrified, but not nearly as horrified as I am. In fact, I’m so horrified that I manage to bring it up in two consecutive meetings. Hey, trauma does weird things to your sense of propriety.
On the bright side, the skin in between my butt acne is really well-moisturized. This is also likely because of the cream: it contains ingredients like macadamia, grape seed, coconut and sweet almond oil, in addition to hyularonic acid and Aloe, and mineral oil substitutes (like hydrogenated polyisobutene).
All of these things are definitely hydrating my skin and preventing moisture loss. But speaking as a beauty editor who prides herself on knowing a lot about ingredients, there’s nothing listed here that would affect fat cells in any way. Anemarrhena asphodeloides and Chaga mushroom extracts, both listed ingredients, actually have anti-inflammatory properties—which is weird, because isn’t swelling the entire point?
This either means that this company is adding an unlisted active ingredient to their cream (super illegal), or that PureLeef is selling straight-up moisturizer and lying about what it does (super unethical).
And lying they are: on the fourteenth day, as my ass zits recede and I’m left with a single red scar from the cystic monster, my butt’s measurements have not changed: it still measures 35 1/4 inches. The skin, though hydrated, is no smoother; it’s not tighter, firmer or different in any way. Myth officially busted: PureLeef Butt & Body Plumping Cream does not work.
I’m not especially sad about that, because I used this cream for a story; I didn’t actually think it was going to increase the size of my ass, because I’m an adult with a finely-tuned bullshit meter and I understand how ingredients work. But then again, I’m not the target market for this product. Companies like Pureleef that advertise exclusively by getting young, Instagram-famous celebrities to shill for them are selling their products to teenagers and young women. You know, the people already being taught to dislike their own bodies, and who are willing to spend real money for Instagram popularity and validation.
That’s Pureleef’s target market: the young and the vulnerable. And it bothers me that Kylie Jenner, who understands both the way fan worship works AND has experienced some of the pressure girls are under about their appearance, would lie about actively promote a product like that.
Curves decidedly unplumped, I say goodbye to this experiment and reflect on what I’ve learned. I still don’t care about the Kardashians and Jenners, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that even if I squat it out from now until the end of time, I’ll never have an ass like Kylie’s. But you know what? I also won’t have butt acne. That’s good enough for me.