Sephora Under Fire for Selling Lotion Brand that Attracts Spiders

By: Georgia McKoy | Published: Feb 05, 2024

A customer’s review on Sephora’s website sparked a unique controversy regarding Sol de Janeiro’s new Delícia Drench Body Butter. The customer reported an unusual occurrence of attracting wolf spiders after using the product.

The review read, “If you’re scared of wolf spiders — watch out for these lotions, lol. I wanted to love them sooo bad, but one of the ingredients is like kryptonite to wolf spiders!” This startling claim quickly caught the attention of the public and raised questions about the product’s ingredients and their effects.

Customer's Disturbing Experience with Spider Attraction

Newsweek reports that the situation escalated when the reviewer described a disturbing experience, claiming, “When I put it on, instantly one will come out. Normally I’ll see one every, like, 3 years, used this and it was every day.” 

A close-up image of an orange-brown spider centered on its intricate web

Source: Mark Vegera/Pexels

This statement implied a direct correlation between the use of the body butter and the increased presence of spiders, a claim that was both alarming and perplexing to readers.

Reddit Users Speculate on Chemical Attraction

The discussion soon moved to Reddit, where users speculated about potential chemical attractants in skincare products. 

A close-up image of Sol de Janeiro's Delicia Drench Body Butter container. The product is presented with a grey and white label that reads "Delicia Drench Body"

Source: soldejaneiro/Instagram

Fox Business details that a user, @marchingkoala, suggested that farnesyl acetate and hexadecyl acetate might be responsible for attracting spiders. The user’s post hinted at a scientific basis for the attraction, saying, “Two choice behavioral essays verified that the blend of farnesyl acetate and hexadecyl acetate attracted males.”

Sol de Janeiro's Official Response to Spider Claims

The Huffington Post reports that in response to the viral claims, Sol de Janeiro issued a statement on Instagram stories, dismissing the rumors. 

An excerpt from a Sol de Janeiro statement with a white and orange background. The text reads, "All of our products, including our new Delicia Drench Body Butter and upcoming Cheirosa 59 Perfume Mist are free from farnesyl acetate, diisobutyl phthalate, and hexadecyl acetate. So while they may attract a lot of attention from people, they won’t from arachnids (even though we love all creatures at Sol de Janeiro)."

Source: soldejaneiro/Instagram

They clarified, “All of our products, including the new Delicia Drench Body Butter and upcoming Cheirosa 59 perfume mist, are free from fornesyl acetate, diisobutyl phthalate and hexadecyl acetate.” 

Social Media's Role in Amplifying the Spider Rumor

The rumor gained further traction on social media platforms like TikTok and X, formerly Twitter, where users spread the story, creating a viral phenomenon, as per information from Fox Business.

A screenshot of a social media post with a woman wearing glasses in the background. In the foreground, there's a text bubble replying to a comment from Sol de Janeiro which reads, "hey babe! Of course this rumor is untrue! None of our products, including Delicia Drench + 59 Mist contain these alleged arachnid attracting ingredients. 💛"

Source: Jackie.lib/TikTok

Sol de Janeiro also addressed the issue on TikTok, commenting on one video, “Of course this rumor is untrue! None of our products, including Delicia Drench + 59 Mist, contain these alleged arachnid attracting ingredients.”

Mixed Reactions from the Public on Spider Attraction Claims

Despite the brand’s denial of the claims, public reactions remained mixed, Fox Business reports. TikTok user @lisaessary83 expressed caution, saying in a comment under the video, “you really think they would admit it…” 

A screenshot of a social media comment by a user named 'Lisa.Essary' with a dark background. The comment reads, "you really think they would admit it..." followed by an eye roll emoji and a facepalm emoji

Source: Lisa.Essary/TikTok

On the other hand, user @arly_arly3 posted under the same video: “the internet believes anything. People are so uninformed and gullible.”


Further Investigations and Experiments

The original review on Sephora’s website led to further independent investigations, Newsweek reveals.

A close-up photo of a person's leg showing a small circular mark drawn on the skin, resembling a target. The person is wearing a white sock with a sneaker visible in the corner

Source: TheCactusWild/X

One X user shared an image of a supposed wolf spider bite after using the body butter, and a Reddit user conducted an experiment applying the lotion on a piece of tissue, claiming it attracted spiders.


Expert Opinions on the Likelihood of Spider Attraction

Arachnid experts weighed in on the discussion, casting doubt on the claims.

A close-up image of a spider with a patterned body, suspended on a web

Source: Anton Darius/Unsplash

Dr. Floyd Shockley from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s Entomology Committee told The New York Times, “It is HIGHLY unlikely that the skin cream company through random chance combined enough things in just the right proportion to mimic a spider compound.”


Spider Attraction and Behavior

Dr. George Uetz, a professor of biological sciences, informed the New York Post that the chemicals farnesyl acetate and hexadecyl acetate, speculated to attract spiders, haven’t been shown to allure wolf spiders but may affect other species.

An up-close image of a spider facing the camera. The spider has a hairy body with a pattern of browns and blacks

Source:Damian Mccoig/Unsplash

Wolf spiders, typically between a quarter-inch and an inch long, are mostly harmless, with bites that rarely cause serious issues, per Pennsylvania State University.


Sol de Janeiro's Commitment to Ingredient Safety and Quality

Sol de Janeiro reassured its customers of its commitment to safety, in a statement to Newsweek.

A person's hand is shown dipping into an open jar of Delicia Drench Body Butter by Sol de Janeiro. The jar is blue with a white label

Source: soldejaneiro/Instagram

They said, “The brand carefully selects each ingredient for maximum efficacy and have banned the use of over 100 cosmetic ingredients in its formulations.”


Misinformation and Its Impact on Public Perception

The spread of misinformation regarding the body butter highlighted how quickly unverified claims can influence public opinion.

A night-time view of a Sephora store with a large, vivid advertisement featuring a model with colorful makeup on the facade. The store's name SEPHORA is illuminated in white against the dark sky.

Source: Deva Darshan/Unsplash

Newsweek reports that a user on Reddit pointed out, “This was a made-up rumor based on one Sephora user’s review.”


User Experiences Contradict Spider Attraction Claims

Despite the widespread discussion, many users reported no unusual spider encounters after using the body butter, via information from Newsweek.

A person seated on a bed with a pale yellow waffle-knit blanket is applying lotion to their lower leg

Source: Sora Shimazak/Pexels

One Reddit user commented, “It’s absolutely ridiculous. I’ve been wearing it for days and 0 spiders.”