While you were kicking your feet up and enjoying the holiday season, the folks over at Sol de Janeiro were busy putting out fires sparked by a one-star Sephora review: A user by the handle Chemkats claimed that the scent of the skincare brand’s Delícia Drench Body Butter attracts wolf spiders, an arachnid genus that is particularly large and hairy.

Chemkats’ review, posted on December 24, asserted that Delícia Drench is “like kryptonite to wolf spiders… Normally I’ll see one every like 3 years, used this and it was every day.” Thanks to the attention-grabbing nature of its claims, the review quickly went viral. Subsequent Sephora reviews (some posted earnestly, others in jest) piggy-backed on the notion that Sol de Janeiro’s body butter is spider bait, drawing more attention to the hearsay.

Discussion of arachnid skincare preferences made its way to Reddit, where one user asked “anyone who’s used the sol de janeiro wolf spider cream” to share their experience. Attempting to explain the spider-cream connection, a commenter by the handle Marchingkoala alleged that farnesyl acetate and hexadecyl acetate, chemicals used to fragrance and thicken skincare products respectively, are present in spider pheromones — therefore, the possibility that Delícia Drench could attract spiders wasn’t so far-fetched.

Thus, an urban legend was born. The “science” behind spider pheromones and skincare ingredients made its way to Twitter and TikTok, where the notion that spiders love scented body butter snowballed.

But like most urban legends, this one got its (eight) legs from misinformation. Skeptics pointed out that Delícia Drench doesn’t actually contain farnesyl acetate and hexadecyl acetate, the compounds supposedly found in spider pheromones. (Even if it did, “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,” entomologist Floyd Shockley told The New York Times.)

Eventually, Sol de Janeiro issued an official statement clearing things up: “All of our products, including our new Delícia Drench Body Butter and upcoming Cheirosa 59 Perfume Mist are free from farnesyl acetate, diisobutyl phthalate, and hexadecyl acetate,” the brand clarified in an Instagram Story posted on December 29. “So while they may attract a lot of attention from people, they won’t from arachnids.”

While the creepy, crawly rumors could have done damage to Sol de Janeiro’s brand image, a built on its delicious-smelling creams and body sprays, I’d guess it did more to fuel interest in the brand. “Sephora Spider Lotion” achieved meme status just before the new year, becoming one of the most viral beauty products of 2023.

There’s nothing Gen Z loves more than a brand with a good sense of humor. If Sol de Janeiro embraces Delícia Drench’s lore (more spider memes, please!), the violet-vanilla-scented cream might just become a best-seller.

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