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Question :: Do You Fake Bake To Look Healthy? Plus, My Chocolate Sun Sunless Tanner Review

I'm vain.  There, I said it.  Even though I read labels like crazy and know sunbathing is probably bad for me, it's a tad difficult for me to resist heading to the tanning salon this time of year so I look "healthy" and "normal".  About a month before summer officially hits an angel and a devil appear on each of my shoulders. One tells me I'll look so much better in shorts, skirts and dresses if I do it and the other reminds me about the family friend {my dad's age} who died of advanced melanoma skin cancer less than one week after diagnosis around this time last year. I'm fully aware that these thoughts contradict my beliefs about what I will and will not use on my body.  I do.  I hate to admit I'm no stranger to tan enhancing lotions that smell like burnt hair slash coconut that have some pretty scary ingredients or those Olympic swimming-esque goggles worn in the tanning bed. I used to own my own neon green pair {wince}. Granted last time I used one was a few years ago, but for the last couple summers I have fought the urge to go so I don't look so ghostly.

Does this surprise you?  Don't be fooled. I struggle with superficiality and health versus appearance like many of you.  I do.  I have a sneaking suspicion many of you have the same conflicting thoughts bouncing around in your noggin this time of year.  Perhaps you're visiting your local tanning salon in secrecy (or publicly) or  maybe you're a sun worshiper who lays out by the pool or beach all summer and throws caution out the window and to the wind.  I'm not judging one way or the other.  Some people live on the beach for most of the year and they'll never get skin cancer and others will.  That's life, different bodies, different genetic makeups and different environments.

Did you happen to see the SELF Magazine article tackling this subject in their recent June issue titled "A Prescription For Cancer"? Apparently some doctors prescribe the tanning bed for things like SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), depression and skin disorders.  The story of Delta Payet, an aesthetician who owns a skin care salon and whose doctor discovered a precancerous mole 25 years after high school when she visited the tanning salon frequently following the advice of her doctor, is a wake-up call indeed for fake bakers.  Did you know that frequenting a tanning bed increase melanoma risk by 74 percent?  Wow. 

For me, I just loathe being pasty white in the summertime. I hate that my skin tone is not that different from the underside of a white-bellied lizard where you can see it's blue guts.  I'm not a fan of my translucent skin or that I burn very easily in the sun, thank you genes.  I'm quite aware this is a cultural thing and it's an entirely superficial and vain mindset, but I tend to think people with some color on their skin look healthier - not that they actually are, but that they appear to be.  Is that weird?  I'm not talking about the leathery, orangey people.  I'm talking about those with a nice warm pigment, a color that looks like the sun has kissed them.  And in winter when the sun does not appear for what seems like months, several people have told me that heading to a tanning salon is what makes them feel normal and helps them get out of their winter blues funk.  I know the tanning bed is not good for me which is why I haven't been in a few years; UVA, UVB rays and radiation-emitting beds are not exactly healthy beauty treatments and I know they are supposed to age you.  I distinctly remember the last time I fake baked, in shame, and gasped when I got out and looked in the mirror.  I looked like I had aged 15-20 years and noticed deep, deep, severe wrinkles underneath my eyes and that delicate skin was sagging badly.  I was shocked and panicked.  It went away after several hours but I'm sure it contributed to the wrinkles I have there today. There is a reason it's called fake bake, because you feel as though you're being cooked inside and out - at least I did.

There are those who feel like sunlight in moderation is beneficial to get the proper amount of Vitamin D and those who believe it should be avoided altogether.  And of course there's the whole are-we-getting-skin-cancer-from-sun-or-from-sunscreen debacle.  And that leads us to which sunscreens are safe and which ones are harmful and can EWG Skin Deep's newly released sunscreen report be trusted?  Ah, so much to consider.  No wonder so many people end up giving up on the pursuit of knowing the right thing to do, throw their hands up and say que sera sera. To quote my cousin who recently posted on Facebook "We're all dying of cancer either way!! At least our way is going out in STYLE!".  I don't think this mindset is all that uncommon, do you?

So what's a ghostly indoor workaholic to do?!  Get thee some Chocolate Sun, that's what.

Chocolate Sun Cocoa Lite Sunless Enhancer Lotion Review 

I've never had great luck with sunless tanning lotions and if one works well, it probably stinks and if it doesn't stink it probably streaks.  And the latter is much more embarrassing than ghostliness.  This Cocoa Lite lotion contains 92% organic ingredients, moisturizes well and looks natural. This product is for very light skin toned people. While I didn't have the same great experience with their Illume Light For Face (I had a little streakage issue), this body lotion gets a big two thumbs up.  This isn't the product for you if you want to look like a Brazilian beach goddess, the Absolute Sun Sunless Tanning Cream is where I'm told it's at if that's your desired result. If you have medium skin tone check out Kristin Davis' fave, Cocoa Glow. This lotion smells like chocolate with a hint of coconut and vanilla and won't turn you into an Oompa Loompa.  Wish it came in a 32 ounce size.  

Good to know: Definitely wash and exfoliate before using this and don't use any oily product before you apply it because it won't absorb well.  Wipe your webs - in between your hand and feet, knuckles because product will settle there and be darker there when it dries.  Wipe off knees, ankles, elbows and cuticles with a very lightly damp cloth.  Apply in a circular motion. Wash hands afterwards and make sure you swipe underneath your nails. Apply product to top of hands lightly and carefully. 

Where To Buy: (who sent me a bottle to try)

Price: $40

Size: 8 oz.

Are you purposefully tanning this summer?  Speak your mind in the comments section.  I want to know what YOU think!

2/1/12 Update: I've just learned that the ingredient in the Chocolate Sun Self Tanning Lotion, Emulium Delta (listed as an emulsifier), is a synthetic ingredient that contains several other ingredients that aren't disclosed on the ingredient label.  Emulium Delta contains: 

INCI: Cetyl Alcohol (and) Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-75 Stearate (and) Ceteth-20 (and) Steareth-20

I feel it's important to share this informed in order for you to make your own informed decision as to if this product is right for you. 

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Image credit: 1, 2, 3

Disclosure: Spirit Beauty Lounge sent the product mentioned in this review for the purpose of an honest and candid review.  I don't write about everything I receive, only those products I feel worthy of a review.  To read more about our review criteria, click here.

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