This Beachy Perfume Makes Me Smell Like Kate Bosworth In Blue Crush

Photo: Elizabeth Buxton.
You never want something until you can't have it. So, each week in The Sell-Out, we're getting the scoop from your favourite retailers on what's selling like crazy. Watch this space to find out what everyone's buying, sign up for waitlists, and keep tabs on restocks.

In the summer of 2004, I saved up enough money to purchase Bobbi Brown Beach from the local Belk in my hometown — and, from that moment onward, sunscreen-reminiscent fragrances became my passion. Over the years, I've spritzed and sniffed countless vacation perfumes from the very expensive Tom Ford Soleil Blancs and Maison Margiela REPLICA Beach Walks to the more affordable Eau de Juice BeachPleases and Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Crush Cheirosa 62s. My criteria for the perfect beach scent: affordable but not cheap; fruity but not overly sweet; appropriately coconutty; long-lasting; transformative. In other words, the epitome of Kate Bosworth in Blue Crush. Uncomplicated, summer, cool. This brings me to a $60 USD bottle of gender-inclusive, SPF-inspired eau de toilette that launched in May and subsequently sold out (twice) leaving a 1,500+ waitlist in its wake. As of last week, "VACATION" by Vacation was restocked and I was offered the chance to take it for a test spritz. Read on for my full review of the closest thing to a vacation in a bottle my nose has yet to sniff.
Advertisement

Vacation took me to the beach — but not one where my mom was forcefully spraying me down with Banana Boat Sport.

Elizabeth Buxton, R29 Deputy Director
Born out of a collaboration with well-known perfumers Carlos Huber (of ARQUISTE Parfumeur) and Rodrigo Flores-Roux (the man behind Clinique “Happy"), Vacation created "VACATION" as the scent version of its cult-favourite SPF (aka "The World's Best-Smelling Sunscreen"). The bottle is glamorous in a retro way that brings to mind the vanity display of some Floridian grandmother — which makes sense for the Miami-based brand — and is filled with a potion that's described as possessing the ability to immerse you in the "Sunscreen Experience." This inimitable experience is captured through the more expected notes of coconut, banana, pineapple, and orange blossom paired with the more unexpected notes of pool water, pool toys, and swimsuit lycra.

At first spritz, I was hit with a distinct mix of coconut and banana notes. The pineapple and orange blossom were much lighter in comparison but still present enough to cut the creamier layers with juicy freshness. The quirkier bottom notes (pool water, lycra, and sea salt), although initially less noticeable, took on a more intriguing presence as the hours wore on. Together, the top to heart and bottom notes swelled into a scent that was delightfully transformative. Vacation took me to the beach — but not one where my mom was forcefully spraying me down with Banana Boat Sport. Instead, I found myself in Hawaii. Perhaps it was a beach on the North Shore. Perhaps it was circa 2002 and Kate Bosworth was there surfing a swell. It was playful but sophisticated and sincere. It was intoxicating without feeling cloying or campy. It lingered on my wrists and decolletage instead of fading away throughout the day. I was enveloped in sense of being sun-kissed and windswept from the salty air instead of pale and bleary-eyed from staring into my computer screen.
Advertisement

This scent perfectly conjures up that 80s and 90s summertime nostalgia. It does not smell cheap, nor super expensive. 

KMason, Vacation Reviewer
Curious to discover what others had to say about Vacation's bottle, I sifted through an assortment of onsite reviews that detailed vivid scenes conjured up by the fragrance. One reviewer, Vanessa T., wrote that it smells like "a Caribbean vacation with piña coladas and sunshine. I wear it every day & it puts me in an amazing mood. I love it!!" While George M. mused, "Neon pink flamingos? Check. Coconut Lime daiquiri? Check. White Lamborghini Countach? Check. It smells like you have been at the cabana all day." Another, KMason, touched on the nostalgic poolside qualities of the scent: "This really does capture long, lazy afternoons spent in the pool. There is not a noxious chlorine smell and the lycra and plastic pool toy is subtle and comes in later upon spraying. This scent perfectly conjures up that 80s and 90s summertime nostalgia. It does not smell cheap, nor super expensive." And, finally, a true reviewer poet by the name of Shawn C. painted one of the most stirring scent pictures: "Your inner sensual pool boy will emerge in two-inch inseam red shorts, glistening as you lay out on the pool deck. A lawnmower hums in the distance and the girls laugh and splash in the deep end, red polished nails clinging to sweating margaritas."

Your inner sensual pool boy will emerge in two-inch inseam red shorts, glistening as you lay out on the pool deck.

Shawn C, Vacation Reviewer
At $60 a bottle, "VACATION" by Vacation is not cheap but it certainly beats out its pricier competitors that can run well into the $200+ price points. The quality is there, from the packaging to its spellbinding fragrance that radiates throughout the day instead of retreating like the low tide. To echo the words of one final reviewer, Jocelyn I., it is indeed like "wearing a memory" — even if that memory is one you only dreamed about as a 14-year-old living in Greensboro, NC, 5,000 miles away from Kate Bosworth and her white-sand beach.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

More from Beauty