Welcome to Clothing Optional, a series in which we test out all the newest products and treatments meant to help us look better naked.
Truth be told, I've never really bought into (literally) any kind of product touting "firming," "contouring," and/or "cellulite-busting" booty perks—a healthily sized bracket of elixirs and creams the summertime beauty market loves to foist on those (ahem, most) of us feeling seasonally insecure. I say "seasonally" because while no human feels 100% fabulous about their body 100% of the time, the influx of body-improving products, diets, and workout regimens hits an aggressive apex this time of year with no mercy for an easily wounded or impressionable psyche. Scantily clad weekend and vacation agendas can effortlessly morph into intimidating versions of PG-13 show-and-tell, and even if you were feeling fine, or maybe even great, about your body two seconds ago, a product claiming to relieve the burden of "imperfections" can plant a toxic seed of doubt. A lickety-split whiplash. Wait, do I need that?
For the record, no. A formula designed to firm up your bum (or wherever—pick your poison) just isn't one of the necessary spices of life, at least in our opinion. That being said, can it be a non-necessitated spice of life? Can it be fun? Can it be intriguing? Ah, yes. Now those, it can be. Whether it's a special event like a wedding or maybe just an extended boozy weekend on a pontoon with friends, it's not a crime to not feel confident in your body, and it's also not a crime to have interest in a quick fix that doesn't involve adopting a new diet or workout regimen. Which is where those aforementioned firming, toning, contouring, etc. products can come in. Maybe. (Afterall, I'm a skeptic, remember?)
I've had trouble getting into the trend for two reasons. A) The products I have tried (usually body creams, lotions, and washes) simply don't work. Therefore, I've stopped wasting my time, energy, and money if the only thing getting toned is my bicep from an epic trash dunk. And B) a part of me has always felt traitorous to a body-positive outlook—something I've earnestly worked to cultivate ever since my experience with an eating disorder. Slowly but surely, however, I've realized "body positivity" doesn't necessarily connotate such a literal translation. I will have days I don't feel great about myself, there will be photos I perceive as unflattering, and there will be times I don't feel like leaving the house—it's a fact of life. Or at least, a fact of life within the culture we live in. And I know I'm not the only one out here—far from it.
Over the years, I've learned to accept and expect the days I don't feel great about myself, creating workarounds instead. And interestingly, experimenting with beauty products has been a helpful and creative outlet. Plus, as innovation and variety has improved, so has my outlook. In fact, some "body-improving" products and devices have potential (and hype) so grand, they've even managed to pique my stubborn incredulity. One such product being Natura Bissé's legendary Diamond Body Cream—the twinkling subject of this review and $230 a pop, to boot. So I thought I'd try it. (Plus, our Clothing Optional series provided the perfect opportunity.)
Slightly misleading, this luxurious cream actually doesn't contain diamonds. Although another member of Natura Bissé's collection—the Diamond Life Infusion ($610)—does. All the same, there are still plenty of other miraculous claims to be made about the body cream. According to the brand, it contains artemia salina to instigate cellular metabolism, watercress to boost elasticity and firmness, essential fatty acids to enhance hydration and suppleness, and last but not least, an expert cocktail of collagen and minerals to "remodel the body's contour." But would it actually?
The directions suggest applying the cream in an upward motion to the entire body both morning and night (focusing efforts on areas like the legs, abdomen, arms, and breasts), but I felt this experiment called for more control. Therefore, I applied it three times prior to writing this lovely story (morning, night, and this morning again) to every inch of my body except for my left leg. Ballsy, I know.
First of all, let it be known I have never (or at least on very rare occasion) had such a doting and oh my god, this is amazing visceral response upon first application of a beauty product. Seriously, this body cream is in a league of its own, and this comes from someone who doesn't usually like the stuff. (I hate how cloying and greased-up my entire body feels after having applied lotion, balms, or oils—ick.) This stuff, however, is luscious. The application is ridiculously smooth and silky and instantly delivers skin with a lit-from-within airbrushed finish. I couldn't stop massaging it into my skin. It felt decadent, addicting, expensive, and is by far the best lotion or cream I have ever rubbed into my consistently parched limbs. In fact, the beautiful finish alone had me second-guessing my earlier discovery that the formula was actually diamond-less. The end result was that luminous, but not obnoxiously so.
Scent-wise, the cream smells like lavender and is basically the dream antidote if you love to apply something moisturizing to the skin before bedtime. Again, as someone who typically forgoes lotion unless absolutely necessary, the sturdy silver-and-glass jar is sitting on the vanity beside my bed as we speak. Oh, did I mention the pretty packaging? And yes, your vanity wants it, too.
All this aside, what I found truly mesmerizing during that first application was the fact that while minimal, the cream did indeed perk up and tone my skin. First of all, the reflection looking back at me in the mirror looked better and svelter purely due to the flattering finish of the formula, even if my limbs looked roughly the same size as they always are. (Sorry, but something topical like a cream will never emulate the look of weight loss—despite the brand's cringe-worthy online claim that the formula is "recommended for anyone dieting to lose weight.")
Alas, when I turned around to look at my bum (where I had applied the cream liberally), I noticed the back of my right thigh—and my cheek—looked more lifted than the other. How could I tell? Well, a few days prior, I had gotten a spray tan from celebrity tanning artist James Read, and looking back at me in the mirror (again, just on the right side) was a paler peekaboo strip of skin he had missed where bum meets thigh. Creamless and less-lifted, it was still hidden on the left side. Of course, the effect is still minimal and honestly nothing someone else who doesn't see my naked body every day would notice, but I was thrilled nonetheless and intrigued to see what—if anything—would happen with second and third applications.
The Final Verdict
All in all, this body cream won't significantly change the look or shape of your body, although it does indeed boast temporary toning and firming benefits (which, to be honest, is much more than most other formulas advertised as such can offer). And per our series, it most definitely will make you look better naked. But honestly, it was the look, feel, and finish of this body cream that made me ultimately fall in love with it—not the way it temporarily altered the shape or perkiness of my skin and body.
I realize $230 isn't exactly pocket change, but if you're looking for a high-quality body cream to enhance the look of your skin this summer, I couldn't recommend this splurge-worthy one from Natura Bissé enough. Diamondlessness aside, it's my newest best friend.
For more of our favorite toning and firming elixirs, keep scrolling.
A cult favorite (and lusciously scented with notes of pistachio and caramel), this heavy-duty cream from Sol de Janeiro is strategically spiked with caffeine from guarana, coconut oil, cupuaço butter, and açaí.
Feather-light and expertly formulated, this three-in-one gel cream diffuses the look of cellulite and stretch marks—helping to smooth, tone, and firm even the most stubborn skin to suppleness. Starring ingredients include ginger, coffee, peppermint, red algae, avocado, shea butter, and bentonite clay.
Enriched with the brand's signature Hungarian minerals in addition to an epic roster of super-softening oils (think apricot, plum, almond, rice germ, and jojoba), this ceramide-containing butter helps improve the look and texture of the skin both short- and long-term.
Equipped with oils and firming agents, this velvety-smooth body moisturizer is especially magical if you're one of the many in love with Philosophy's signature scent, Amazing Grace.
Another pricey, albeit worthy, contender: this silky soufflé from Rodial which is enhanced with the likes of —wait for it—bee venom, hyaluronic acid, liquid gold, and vitamin E. Yep, this contour-enhancing pick is another one on our wish list this summer.
This brand is a newfound obsession of mine, and this stimulating body lotion is one of the standouts from its impressive collection of skincare. It's formulated with a strategic mix of paprika, cinnamon, vitamins, calendula, antioxidants, and coenzyme Q10 to reinvigorate skin with elasticity and a taut, firm texture.
Far more affordable (but still yielding impressive results), this cheekily named body lotion from Soap & Glory is one of our favorites. The formula boasts a cool technology featuring quick-release Smoothbump Spheres to boost the skin's natural exfoliation efforts and in turn lessen the look of bumps and pigmentation. Then, the AHA fruit smoothing complex, kukui nut oil, and mica powder work together to firm, illuminate, and buff away luster-blocking dead skin cells.