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Update #4

What Makes Orange Gelée
 So Iconic?

By Marie Lodi | Dec 23, 2023

Out of the thousands of sun care products that exist and have existed, Orange Gelée has always stood out from the rest. But what is it about this precious orange gel that has put fans in a chokehold for decades and inspired Vacation® to bring it back from the afterlife?

What Makes Orange Gelée So Iconic?

When superfan and Orange Gelée Advisory Board member Denise Dion grew up in Southern California in the 70s and 80s, Orange Gelée was the #1 product among her fellow beach-goers. “It became the suntan product above anything else. It was just part of the whole beach culture there,” she recalled in our focus group. Denise was initially attracted to the scent but loved the moisturizing aspect and the sheen it produced on her skin. Fellow Board Member Rodman Primack cites the scent as most impactful but was also “obsessed with the texture, even as a kid.”

Scent, color, and feel. That trifecta is essential to the wonder that is Orange Gelée. It’s hard to say which one is prioritized most among its fans; many will state all three! But other factors make Orange Gelée appealing, and they are somewhat intangible—for instance, nostalgia Michael Kors told Allure in 2011 that he wore the famous sun product on top of his sunscreen just for the smell and the sheen. “It's a childhood thing for me, it takes me to another place,” he said.

There’s also the incomparable Orange Gelée vibe. Compared to other tanning lotions on the market at the time, Orange Gelée gave its wearer an air of sophistication. Another Board Member, and devoted OG fan, Thalia Pappas, said it always made her feel “sexy and sophisticated,” pointing to the French Riviera themes in the brand’s vintage marketing. Meanwhile, Rodman remembered feeling like a grown-up whenever he took it out of his mother’s bag, adding that it was like “tanning for professionals.” It made you feel fancy!

One thing’s for sure: Orange Gelée wasn’t associated with sun protection for most of the superfans on the Advisory Board. It makes sense—during Orange Gelée’s heyday in the 70s and 80s, SPF wasn’t as important as it is now. And back then, tanning was the trend.

Orange Gelée attracted legions of loyal fans, but how? Was it the iconic advertising campaigns, the sparkling Saint-Tropez tan, or the promise of a luxurious and leisurely lifestyle? In future updates, we’ll be exploring Orange Gelée’s backstory even further, starting with the sapphire-blue waters of Côte d'Azur on a day when Coco Chanel caught a little too much sun.

Stay tuned for my next update when I dive deeper into the origins of our dearly beloved Orange Gelée, which had the world-famous fashion icon as its muse.

What Makes Orange Gelée
 So Iconic?

The Orange Gelèe Revival Project is a joint initiative between Vacation® and Orange Gelee fans to bring back the beloved product by Summer 2024.

a tube of orange vacation brand sunscreen gel

The Orange Gelée Revival Project is now complete.

Shop The Completed Orange Gelée


Vacation® is a “Leisure-Enhancing” Sunscreen Company








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