Safe Self-tanning: Chocolate Sun
It’s finally summer! Nothing makes me happier than shedding the cold-weather layers and dressing for warm weather. I can start wearing the clothes I’ve been dreaming about all winter - tanks, shorts and breezy dresses. But given that I’m naturally quite pale, I need to get my tan on first. The sunless kind, of course.
Sunless tanning, aka self-tanner, is obviously the safest way to tan. But just like makeup and skincare, most self-tanning products contain potentially harmful ingredients. The active ingredient in self-tanners is DHA, which is naturally derived from beets or cane sugar. It’s a simple carb that reacts with the amino acids in the top layer of your skin to produce that nice tan color. The challenge is finding a self-tanner with natural DHA and no extra chemicals like dyes (the thing that makes it look brown topically), synthetic fragrance (to mask the strong chemical smell many self-tanners have), and synthetic preservatives.
In my search for the perfect, non-toxic tan, I’ve tried more self-tanning products than I can count and have finally found two favorites: Chocolate Sun and Vita Liberata. These are the ones I rely on to take me safely from pale to bronze. For my review of Vita Liberata self-tanners, click here.
Founded in 2003 in Santa Monica by Susie Phillips, who drew on her extensive experience running sunless tanning studios across California. Phillips worked with a botanical chemist to handcraft her collection entirely of organic botanicals and herbs, pure essential oils and natural preservatives. Quality ingredients and small-batch manufacturing make the Chocolate Sun products feel like they came out of a luxurious, old world apothecary.
Why I love it:
- Doubles as a skin treatment. Chocolate Sun’s self-tan lotions, gels and atomizers contain a blend of coconut oil, almond oil and sunflower oil that leave your skin hydrated, nourished and gorgeously glow-y. Like a super-luxurious body lotion that also happens to give you a tan!
- Applies easily and evenly. It’s hard to make mistakes with this product because it feels so cosmetically elegant and applies so evenly. Comes in 3 shade options (light, medium and dark) and 3 formulas: a tinted gel for the face, an un-tinted lotion for face and body, and a tinted spray (“atomizer”) for face and body. I use the face and body lotion in the medium shade, called “Cocoa Glow”.
- Smells like cookies. The delicious mix of coconut, cocoa, almonds and vanilla makes you forget completely that it’s a self-tanner. Because it’s made entirely of organically grown, wildcrafted botanicals and herbs, you don’t get the unpleasant odor associated with chemically-laden mainstream self-tanners.
- Clean and eco-conscious. The Chocolate Sun products are free of mineral oils, dyes, lanolin, parabens, PABA, alcohol, petro-chemicals, sodium lauryl sulfate and formaldehyde. They’re vegan friendly, non-comedogenic and never tested on animals. Plus, the bottles are made from recycled materials and there are no boxes or outer plastic wrapping, so packaging is minimized.
8 fl oz (US $40.00)
Chocolate Sun is available at several online beauty retailers and from chocolatesun.com.