Sunday, December 14, 2014

Fake Tanning for the Bahamas with Cocoa Brown

Wait, what?! Tanning, Bahamas - what is all this nonsense about, and in the middle of December to boot, I hear you ask? Well, I kind of hinted here and there that we were going on a short tropical getaway over the Thanksgiving weekend, and it was Bahamas, baby - the Island of New Providence more specifically. But before I could transform myself into a true Bahama Mama (yes, my husband did call me that several times and yes, I did have a few of those cocktails while we were there), I needed some help in the tanning department, and Cocoa Brown kindly sent two of their products to the rescue.
You may remember from this ranty post that I am generally over self-tanning and mostly embrace my pale self. But there are just a few occasions when a warm glow, not even a tan per se, comes in handy - one of them being a beach vacay. What really convinced me to give Cocoa Brown a try was that the company hails from Ireland, the land of fair freckly beauties, and they have very light fake tan options for the palest of pale like me. My husband thought it was hilarious that I got some Irish self tanners to test out :) Cocoa Brown has also just launched on the US market, and their products are now available in Ricky's NYC and Miami beauty stores - if you live in New York, you know there's a Ricky in virtually every neighborhood. (Update: you can now also shop for Cocoa Brown products at Ricky's online store here.) If you're not in the US or Ireland, you can also shop for Cocoa Brown products online at, which offers free worldwide delivery with a minium $15 order.
I decided to go for the big guns first and try the Cocoa Brown 1 Hour Tan Mousse* (can't find the official MSRP in the US, but it's $11.27 for 150ml on FeelUnique), which I applied with their Tanning Mitt* ($4.82 each). I'd never tried a self-tanning mousse before, so the experience was both terrifying and fun. The 1 Hour Tan Mousse comes out as an incredibly fluffy khaki-toned blob when you press down the nozzle, which I then tried to vigorously but evenly blend into my skin. It spreads easily but dries down rather quickly, so I'd recommend working in smaller sections. At this point, I panicked just a little bit, because it gives an instant olive tan to the skin and I was starting not to look myself, but it's just a guide color to help you apply evenly and not miss any spots. The guide sets on the skin and doesn't transfer or rub off, so no worries about getting the fake tan on your clothes or your bedsheets.
Since my skin is fair and I chickened out, I only kept the tan on my skin for an hour (you can also wait 2 hours for a medium tan or 3 for a dark tan - or opt for the Dark Mousse), which is when I rinsed it off under the shower. All of the dark olive guide color came right off with just running water, and when I stepped out and carefully toweled myself dry, I was left with just a hint of a peachy brown tan. Husband couldn't see anything at all, but to me, my skin had that pretty warm glow, no streaks, no dark patches, overall very natural looking and exactly what I was hoping for. While the mousse has a pleasant gardenia scent once it's on your skin, I did get a faint whiff of fake tan after I rinsed it off in the shower, but nothing that couldn't be masked with a fragranced body butter. Since the one hour application only gave me a very faint tan, I'd probably go for an hour and a half next time now that I've got my courage up.
Now, the Gentle Bronze Gradual Tan* ($9.66 for 200ml on FeelUnique) is definitely something I'm more familiar with, as gradual self-tanning lotions used to be my weapon of choice back when I was still reaching for a fake tan here and there. The gradual lotion has a nice light consistency that sinks right in and the same gardenia scent. Again, one application gives just a little bit of color that warms up my skintone from the plucked chicken into the 'we sometimes let her out of the cellar' territory. I will definitely reach for this one more often once the temperature rises and my legs are not always covered with pants or tights.

In terms of fading, the 1 Hour Tan Mousse washed away very gradually without me really noticing; with that little bit of sunshine in Nassau, it was almost as if my natural holiday tan blended in perfectly with the self-tan glow. I experienced no random pale patches for the five days or so when I still had some self-tanner on my skin and I was really happy with my more radiant, outdoorsy skin. With the help of Gentle Bronze, I'm now able to extend my holiday glow for an extra couple weeks; again, the effect is so subtle that it fades evenly and gradually.

If you've made it this far into this unseasonal review, here's a special bonus for you! I've decided to include a couple photos from our trip - not that you can see my tan in any of them - but rather to feast your eyes on some beautiful colors and hopefully warm up your day:

Overall, I'm very pleased with the results achieved with the two Cocoa Brown tans I've tried, especially the 1 Hour Tan - it was just so easy to use! At this price point, I can definitely see myself repurchasing. Do you guys use self-tanners? What is your favorite tanning product?

Disclaimer: Products featured in this post and marked with an asterix (*) are press samples I received from the brand's PR for review consideration. All links are non-affiliate. All opinions are 100% honest and unbiased, no matter if the products featured were purchased with my own monies or provided as free press samples. Thank you for reading!


  1. Your hubby is a great photographer. Love those travel pictures. (And the one with your hand and parakeet...looks like an OPI promo).

    Ok, my only tanning product is just the sun (lame, but I get a noticeable tan line just being under the sun for a few hours)and I can't say I like it. I just came by to admire the pictures...

    1. Haha, I appreciate you clicking over anyway, Citrine! <3 You know what my mother in law said after seeing our photos? 'Yeah, the parrots were cute, but I was looking which nail polish Monika was wearing', lol. She was so focused on the nail polish that she didn't spot my husband had a parrot on his head in one of the shots :D

  2. Can I just say that 'we sometimes let her out of the cellar' is my new favourite phrase for the ghostly version of a tan! I will be employing that next summer :D xxx

    1. Hahah, glad you enjoyed it! We tend to have a few similar phrases in rotation in our pale household :D

  3. OMG, how lucky are you! You literally have birds eating out of your hands. Super jealous of that sunshiny trip. I don't self-tan unless there's something weird happening like tanned face and pale body (or the reverse), and I'd probably reach for a bronzer rather than a self-tanner. Good timing on this brand and post though!

  4. Those vacation pictures have me swooning! So beautiful :)

    I never ever used self tan in my life. When I was a child I went a lot to the beach and got naturally tanned, but apart from that... nothing. And I have kind of a trauma with it actually, because Irish girls over here sometimes really OVERDO their self tan... Oompa Loompa level. I'm scared of not being careful and ending up like one, haha.

  5. Oh so envy your vacation, Monika, looks like paradise indeed! Thanks for the reviews of these two products, I know my legs are pasty white once Spring/Summer comes, I'll keep these two in mind.