Meet The Brand Reimagining The Self-Tanning Category As Everyday Safe Sun Care
While Morgan and Daniel Ioffe were honeymooning in Hawaii last year, Daniel forgot to apply sunscreen to the backs of his legs, and they got scorched during a surfing excursion. To soothe her husband’s charred skin, Morgan headed over to CVS for after-sun products, only to end up disappointed by the available options.
“All I could find was aloe gel, and some products that were full of alcohol and dehydrating ingredients, which are the last thing you need when you have a sunburn,” she says. “I felt frustrated because I know there are tons of incredible ingredients out there that could really help.”
A cosmetic chemist with a background in makeup artistry and aesthetics, Ioffe sensed an opportunity in her disappointment. She immediately began to devise the product she had sought in her ill-fated drugstore run and ultimately poured a six-figure sum into developing Tropic Labs, a science-meets-nature brand focused on proper post-sun maintenance and carefully readying the skin for sun exposure.
“We’re pioneering a new category of sun care that’s not just reactive,” says Ioffe. “In the early stages of my research, I remember finding out that 75% to 80% of all sunscreen purchases are made the day people need them. People are basically buying sunscreens when they’re on vacation, and I think that’s an exhausted approach to sun care. You really need to take care of your skin every day and not just because you’re on holiday.”
The self-tanning product Base Tan is core to Tropic Labs’ sun preparation philosophy. It’s designed to heighten users’ abilities to tan to urge them not to lay out in the sun for eternity in search of a tan. It contains a so-called Tropical PhytoComplex with 11 oils and butters from fruits and nuts, including coconut, shea, kakadu plum, cacay, tamanu and babassu. It also features Tropic Labs’ Tan Boost Technology consisting of tan accelerator acetyl tyrosine, adenosine phosphates to prevent light-induced damage, and skin conditioners vitamin B12 and hydrolyzed vegetable protein.
“People are basically buying sunscreens when they’re on vacation, and I think that’s an exhausted approach to sun care. You really need to take care of your skin every day and not just because you’re on holiday.”
“When I was younger, people would go to the tanning salon before their vacation to get a base tan. That’s where the name of the product came from,” explains Ioffe. “We created a really hydrating daily use body lotion that helps to support melanin production in your skin. So, when you do spend time in the sun, you are getting the tan you crave with less sun exposure.”
Over Exposed is the product that gave birth to Tropic Labs. It’s made with Tasmanian pepper extract, palmitoyl-tripeptide-8 and the Tropical PhytoComplex, among other compounds. “It’s our ‘uh oh, you overdid it,’ product,” quips Ioffe. “It has powerful ingredients to rapidly reduce the appearance of redness and relieve signs of irritation, and has antioxidants to help your skin repair.”
Tan Smart is next up for Tropic Labs’ product lineup. Scheduled for a spring 2019 launch, Ioffe believes it will be the first mineral tanning sunscreen on the market. Its non-nano zinc oxide formula will be SPF 20, and incorporate the brand’s Tropical PhytoComplex and Tan Boost Technology.
“It’s sort of a ‘have your cake and eat it too’ product,” says Ioffe. “You can be sun-conscious and safe, and get the color you’re looking for.”
“I really wanted to create a line of products for women who see the value in taking care of their bodies in a new way, and I think the price point is reflective of that.”
With products priced from $29 to $49, Tropic Labs is situated in the premium tier of the self-tanning segment. Ioffe pegs Bali Body as a competitor for Tropic Labs, but says the brand’s higher-end ingredients push its prices up. “I’m not trying to compete with the Coppertone’s and drugstore brands. Frankly, I don’t think anyone can,” she asserts. “I really wanted to create a line of products for women who see the value in taking care of their bodies in a new way, and I think the price point is reflective of that.”
The packaging is reflective of Ioffe’s playfulness. It’s doused in neon and bold type. “Everyone has a super clean, minimalist look. I like that, but I wanted something that would stand out on the shelf and online,” says Ioffe. “I just want it to be bright and vibrant because that’s what I think of when I think of the tropics, vacation and exotic, faraway places.”
Initially, Tropic Labs is sticking online to a direct-to-consumer business model. It ships worldwide, and relies on a fulfilment center in Florida, and manufacturers in Texas and California, although Ioffe, a 28-year-old Canadian, is currently residing in New Zealand. She’s an international jet setter who hasn’t settled in one place for long. She spent months in Australia and the United States prior to touching down in New Zealand for a bit.
“I grew up in Barrie. It’s about an hour north of Toronto, and it’s a very snowy, cold place that gets six weeks of summer probably. I knew early on that I was going to get out of there and live by the ocean,” says Ioffe. “I just love the ocean. I love the beach. I love everything tropical. Even before I knew what the product line was going to be, I knew the tropical essence that would be the spirit of the brand.”