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How Vacation’s Latest Innovation Took over the SPF Category

Published March 5, 2023
Published March 5, 2023

Certain categories in the skincare space are just inherently boring—cleansers, simple moisturizers, and for a long time, SPF. Even the everyday consumer can surmise the importance of wearing sunscreen. It's critical for anti-aging, protecting skin from the sun’s harsh rays, but at the end of the day, it’s not a category bursting with innovation. At least that was the case, until Vacation came around.

The brand is recognizable by its iconic packaging. According to Dakota Green, Founding Partner of Vacation Inc, its recognizable aesthetic is a tribute to an outdated era. “Our packaging, formulas and brand world pay homage to bygone eras when sunscreen was (regrettably) more focused around getting a tan, yet was positioned as being *fun.* While society has thankfully moved on from tanning culture to understanding the critical importance of using SPF to minimize the risk of sun damage and skin cancer, we feel strongly that the best way to get people to protect themselves from UV damage is to make products they'll actually look forward to wearing—and reapplying."

Functioning off a simple model that increasing application (therefore growing brand awareness and actual sun protection) is directly correlated with the joy of application, Vacation had its work cut out for itself. With an already-established fan base, loyal to products like Classic Lotion SPF 50 ($18) and Classic Spray SPF 30 ($20)―even to the point of demanding limited edition candles in the brand’s beachy scent―creating buzz wasn’t the hard part. Capturing an innovation that focused on the fun of reapplying in the sun was the true challenge.

It was during one of Dakota and the team’s many brainstorming sessions that the idea of sunscreen that looks, feels, and acts like a can of whipped cream kept coming up. “There’s something so joyful about whipped cream (that unmistakable “whooshing” sound is the background of such happy moments), and this product perfectly captures that nostalgic experience―while also accomplishing our goal of making sunscreen that’s so fun, you can’t help but want to use it daily!” he shares. The idea came organically. Finding a partner to manufacture the first-of-its-kind was the next challenge.

When Kevin Martz, Vice President of Business Development at Clayton Corporation—the food manufacturing icon whose founder Bunny Lapin famously invented Reddi-Wip—was approached by Vacation about the possibility of whipping sunscreen, his first response was, “Yes, of course,” followed by, “But why would anyone want to?” Turns out, the pressurized packaging increased the sunscreen’s spreadability on skin and offered even more product than a traditional tube of the same size.

From there, formulation was quick. “Once we proved that it could be done, Vacation worked to ensure the formula met its needs for SPF and can filling,” shares Martz. From conception to product development to the actual cans filing out of the production line, the process was a feat of collaboration on the parts of Clayton and the team at Vacation. In addition, Dr. Elizabeth Hale―a board-certified dermatologist and Senior Vice President of the Skin Cancer Foundation, who oversaw performance and efficacy, along with scientists at Honeywell, who helped develop the product’s formulation―were also involved. All that was left was to get Classic Whip SPF 30 ($22) to the masses.

Selling out with a waitlist of over 1,000 is about as clear a vote of confidence as you can get. And while Dakota and the team innovated without social in mind, the product’s runaway success on platforms like TikTok and Instagram certainly made a splash—garnering millions of views almost instantly. Enjoying ongoing reign as a bestseller at retailers like Ulta Beauty and receiving hundreds of five-star reviews, one reviewer in particular summed up the general response to Vacation’s latest launch. “I have ALWAYS sucked at protecting my skin. It’s another step to my skincare routine. But Classic Whip is so fun I can’t *not* put it on. My DMs blew up after posting a story with it, and it’s taking everything in me not to gatekeep.”

Vacation is taking the well-trodden, serious conversation of sun protection and making it fun. Their “leisure-enhancing” products seek to dial up the delight in the experience. “We reject the fear-based marketing of recent years, and instead encourage people to practice sun safety―thus minimizing the risk of skin cancer―by developing SPF products they’ll actually enjoy using and will happily reapply throughout the day,” explains Green. After all, the adage goes, “the best sunscreen to use is the sunscreen you’ll wear.” And Vacation ventures, the sunscreen you’d be most apt to apply comes whipped from a can in an award-winning signature scent.


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