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My Unhealthy Habit

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But first, a healthy habit: eating breakfast.



PB-maple sandwich, with soy-free Vegan Greek Yogurt.

Then: a quickie clean-up, ‘cause I was due outside to bask in the rays with a friend.  Errr, make that two friends. Where there’s sun, Henry follows. As I type this, in fact, he is sleeping right in front of the sun-soaked window. Henry wouldn’t fare so well in Mobile, Alabama (the rainiest city in America, if my google searches are accurate).

Speaking of sunshine, I received a question the other day, relating to sunscreen, that I was a little embarrassed to answer. The commenter wanted to know what sunscreen I use and if I put any on before running. To be honest, I don’t wear sunscreen as often as I should (Read: hardly ever). I never put it on in the mornings before I run because: It’s too early and I’m lazy, it feels gross, I don’t really burn anyway, and I don’t want to take the time. Plus, I rationalize that at least I’m getting some Vitamin D. Ok ok, I know this is bad! I know that the sun can damage your skin long before it shows up in the form of a sunburn. So yeah, I do have an unhealthy habit, and I’m not proud of it.  But hey, I could be worse off: At least I don’t sit out in the sun for hours, tanning, or go to tanning beds, which is an alarmingly-popular teenage practice here in Texas. And if I am going to be out in the daytime sun for an extended period of time (i.e. multiple hours), swimming or going to the beach, I will put on sunscreen.

Sharing time!

Are you a religious sunscreen-wearer?  And do you ever go tanning?

Although I’ve never gone to a tanning bed, I did do the spray-on tan thing a few times when I was in high school. And one summer, I was big into Jergens tinted lotion. But now I’m learning to embrace my pale skin. Did you know that, in China, they sell whitening cream? Someone tried to give me a free sample once, on the street. I was like, “Are you serious?! Look at me!”

Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 

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  1. emma says:

    I always wear sun screen, its in my mosturizer lol! But I also avoid the sun at all costs, if its really sunny and I’m heading out for a walk I bring my parasol, I may look funny but I want to protect my skin, and I just like to be pale haha.

    ps. I’m so intrigued by peanutbutter and maple! Do you use organic syrup?

    1. Yup! And it’s so strong that–truly–you only need a touch of the stuff to impart huge maple flavor!

  2. I’m really bad about suncream :( which is awful considering I’m so fair!! But I would never, ever use a tanning bed – soo dangerous!

  3. Krystina says:

    I don’t wear sunscreen (aside from SPF 15 in my face moisturizer) because I don’t often sunbathe and I enjoy getting my daily dose of vitamin D via sunshine. 😀

  4. Dude. During my ho phase in high school (and I mean that with love) I definitely went to tanning beds. Thank god I snapped out of it. Otherwise you could have sliced me up and sold me with the jerky. Nahhsty.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I did the tanning bed thing a LOT in high school. And I know it’s bad for me, but I’ll still go every once in a while. But now I make sure it’s a REALLY special occasion. I went before my wedding, for example. But maybe only once or twice a year now. I still know it’s bad. But it’s my vice, like cigarettes for some people.

  6. Lucy says:

    I have heard/read that sunscreen has so many chemicals and other junk in it that it is not that good for you. Coconut oil or olive oil I have heard can be applied?? And also it is not the sun that gives you cancer but the impurities in your skin that are brought out by the sun therefore the cancer then appears. To get enought vitamin D we need to be in the sun every day for a little. With you being vegan I bet your skin is a lot healthier and won’t have as many impurities and you are probably better off not applying sun screen. And I bet you are not in the sun long enough for any damage to happen anyways. So love your beautiful light skin!!! I am a runner too in ARIZONA! The state with the most sunshine I’m sure and I hardly wear sunscreen. I’d like to try a natural kind but I will apply it when I know I am going to be in the sun a long time.

    1. Coconut oil? Ooooh another use for my true love! :)

      1. Gillian says:

        Be careful with the coconut oil as I know for some it has worked more like a sun TAN lotion! :)
        When you wear sunscreen your body can no longer get Vit. D. (and getting it from the sun is the best way since it’s really more of a hormone created by the body then a vitamin. Taking vitamin D orally is a very inefficient way to get it) So from the research I’ve done it’s great to get some sun when you can! Just don’t burn!
        That is interesting, Lucy, about the health of the skin! Hadn’t heard of that before.
        so imho your unhealthy habit is actually a very healthy one!:)

        1. I don’t think I could rationalize using coconut oil to rub all over myself every day… it’s expensive!

  7. Katie says:

    I never used to wear sunscreen growing up – and I was a lifeguard for 6 years during summers! Eeek! However, the second I saw my first little “laugh lines” by my eyes – I started wearing it religiously. I won’t even step outside without it now, even in the winter!

  8. I am a huge sunscreen user! Before my marathon I invested in some legit, 85+ SPF stuff. Everyone thinks I’m crazy! :)

  9. Leslie says:

    Seriously, take up modeling already ;). And bring Henry along, because he’d make a great model too. I bet he’d like it. I’ve heard that they reward the dogs on acting sets with treats after every take. :)
    I was a big tanner as a kid, not at tanning beds, but just laying out on the beach. Now, my first wrinkles are maing me regret it!

    1. Leslie says:

      *making me

    2. Awww :).
      And lol, Henry just wants to know where to sign! 😉

  10. I’m really bad at wearing sunscreen. I honeslty don’t like the stuff at all, it makes me feel sticky..gets in my eyes, I never remember..but then again, I don’t really lay out. I’m in the sun with horseback riding and what not so I know it’s still not “safe” but it’d be much worse if I was a beach bunny and never wore sunscreen.

  11. GabyE says:

    I’m not crazy about sunscreen unless I’m out between 11 am – 2 pm, that’s when the sun is the strongest, and you are most likely to get skin damage. If it’s early in the morning or late at night the angle that the rays hit the Earth make it less dangerous for us. But I embrace my whiteness too! I’m not really out in the sun very much without a cap, sunscreen, and an umbrella of some sort, so I’m a bit pasty, lol.

  12. There are a whole bunch of chemicals in normal sunscreens…so I don’t use the junk anymore (did you know that those sunscreens might even cause skin cancer in some cases???)

    I use Dr. Ben Kim’s sunscreen when I play tennis. Because I play for 2-4 hours a day in the Florida sunshine! It has some good stuff in it that I can’t remember right now…. But yeah! And a hat is always good!

    I’m tan very easily, though, and don’t really burn much when I don’t wear it. But I have NEVER been to a tanning bed, and I NEVER will!!! :)

  13. Molly says:

    I’m a lifeguard so I already get super dark in the summer! I even tan through 50 SPF sunblock. I will admit to fake baking before our homecoming and prom dances. Such a bad habit but I think a subtle tan looks flattering at dances!

  14. MoniMeals says:

    I can admit back high school and(when my snowboard carreer was at its peak and I was in the sun snowboarding 3-5 hrs a day) I did not put sunscreen on my face nearly enough! I had a permanent “Raccoon tan” from my goggles. I feel lucky unless the damage is heading my way, but I am fair so I try my best to wear it everyday, I alo live by the beach now so it is always a reminder. We all should wear sunscreeen, great reminder for everyone CCK!!

  15. Kelly says:

    Pretty flowers! I love lilies. :)

    Sunscreen – yeah, I use it when I’m going to be exposed (!) for a decent amount of time. I’m pretty pale and burn easily, so I’d rather not take that chance. However, I inevitably get a really awful farmers’ tan from spending time outdoors wearing short sleeves and not putting sunscreen on my arms… ah well! I figure that’s where I get my vitamin D.

  16. I’m the same way…I am totally anti-tanning bed, but I never wear sunscreen, unless I’m in the tropics and already burnt. SO BAD (and probably hypocritical)….but….I still do it.

  17. I am a religious sunscreen-wearer, all year long. I really do not want wrinkles!!!

  18. Angela says:

    When I’m at the beach or the pool I always wear sunscreen and my facial mosturizer has SPF 15, but that’s it. I feel the same way you do – it’s a little inconvenient to apply daily and it feels awful on my skin. I should be more careful about it but since I spend the sunny hours in doors for the most part, I’m not that concerned.

  19. Mama Pea says:

    I’m pretty diligent about sunscreen. I lost a friend to melanoma in college and after seeing her suffer, it really was a lightbulb moment.

  20. VEGirl says:

    EWW!! Fake tanning is gross! (I bet it causes cancer more in the long run, too). I NEVER wear sunscreen, and I can count the number of times I got burned this summer (2– and very mildly because I spent the entirety of day out in the sun). I tan perfectly– all my friends are really jealous. I don’t think it’s healthy to wear excessive sunscreen anyway, because many sunscreens have chemicals that actually LEAD TO CANCER. If you must wear sunscreen, get the natural ones, but if you’re fine and you don’t stay in the sun for the entire day, I think it’s fine!

    1. Thanks for making me feel better, girl! I rarely ever urn either… but that doesn’t mean I tan. I have one skin tone: white! Eh, I’m learning to love it, even here in Tx where everyone looks like barbie lol.

      1. VEGirl says:

        hehe– barbies!? I think the only way they look like that is BECAUSE they use the tanners! They probably wouldn’t get a tan otherwise, on count that a lot of people never even go outside!

        Alright, I’ll stop ranting now :) I also have a question. I made the agar pudding base but when I tried to go make pudding (chocolate banana) it didn’t blend all smooth and creamy but left these icky little lumps that make me feel like I’m eating- I don’t know- not pudding! I don’t have a vitamix, which could be part of it, but any suggestions????

        1. Hmmm… agar is so super-finicky. Sometimes it gels completely and other times it doesn’t. When it doesn’t for me, I just blend for a reaaaaaaally long time, on super-high power, to get rid of the lumps. Maybe if you blend it much longer, it can still work, even if you don’t have a high-powered blender? As I said, the stuff is so fickle!

  21. Marina says:

    I try to wear it all the time in the summer, but not so much anymore. But I really try putting some face cream with spf before I go out

  22. I don’t put any on before my typical morning run, however I do try to remember if I’m hiking, sitting by the pool, playing tennis, etc. The sun doesn’t feel strong enough in the morning to make me want to slather myself in that stuff. I don’t burn easily, so I don’t mind not wearing it in the morning.

    Tanning beds are a no for me. I prefer to get my skin cancer the natural way. :)

  23. I only wear sunscreen when I know I’ll be outside for awhile…which is rare. I tend to stay indoors as much as possible. When I am outside, it’s usually for a picnic or something and that’s typically in a park with lots of trees. I probably outta go outside more.

  24. I tried PB & maple in my oatmeal yesterday based on your suggestion! You were definitely right: it is an amazing combination.

    Haha, as much as I would like to be a few shades darker, I have not and do not plan on going to a tanning bed. I have no interest in premature skin cancer, lol. Also, I’m not religious about wearing sunscreen; in fact, I only put it on when I’ll be outside for multiple hours, like you said. 😀

  25. Justine says:

    I hate sunscreen as well! The smell, feel, and I can’t imagine if it trickled down with my sweat to my poor little tongue-gross. I don’t get outside much, but when I do it isn’t for more than an hour so I am about as worried about it as you are. I DO wear the icky ointment when going places like the pool/lake/beach though as I have a tendensy to burn faster than a marshmallow in a campfire.


    1. Ok, your analogy belongs in an essay (which would get an A, btw). Too creative to waste in a comment! 😉

  26. Eleanor says:

    The moisturiser I use every day has a 15 SPF and I use a mugh higher one in summer, even in England! But I look like a milk bottle so I have to :-)

    But when I came to LA a couple of years ago, I thought I couldn’t go home that colour so I got a spray tan in one of those 10-dollar places… not good! I looked like I’d had a fight with a giant orange and weeks later still had horrible brown/orange patches round knees and belly button; always a great style statement, I feel! :-)

  27. Jennifer - jcd says:

    I use sunscreen only when I know I will be outside in the sun for a long time. I don’t sunbathe or anything, but I love spending time outside. I live really far north where most people have vitamin D deficiency, so I try to get safe sun exposure as much as I can. Plus, all the chamicals in sunscreen and the way it makes my skin feel is so icky. I’ll use it when I have to, but most days I don’t worry about it. I also read that Omega fats are great for protecting skin from the sun.

    As for tanning beds – they are horrible! Love your skin tone, whatever it is. I’m proud to be pasty white. One of my best friends has dark chocolate skin and the other is Asian, and none of us would ever consider darkening or lightening our skin!

    Song of the day: “Colored People” by DC Talk…

  28. Amanda says:

    I used to be super religious about sunscreen until I started reading some interesting theories that I heard from Ani Phyo, this amazing raw foodist chef. Since our skin is our largest organ, and it absorbs everything we put on it and gets into our bloodstream, she doesn’t put anything on her skin that she wouldn’t theoretically be able to eat! That said, she uses coconut oil for lotion (I just started using olive oil and it’s amazing! I’m serious!) She also said that when we eat lots of antioxidants and superfoods, it helps protect our skin against the harmful UV rays; like sunscreen! I don’t know if I’d stay outside for hours and hour without sunscreen, but I think if you’re getting a lot of antioxidants and aren’t outside too long, you actually might be better off! <3

    1. Wow, that makes a WHOLE lot of sense! I used to burn so easily as a little kid, and the rest of my family still burns easily. My sister literally will burn to a crisp after only 5 minutes in the sun. But nowadays I can be out there for hours–sans sunscreen–and still not burn. I never even thought it might have anything to do with diet, but your (and Ani’s) theory completely fits!
      P.S. Your other comment is so completely sweet!! :)

  29. Amanda says:

    oh, and yes! if you ever wanted to be a model you could absolutely do it. :) beautiful, thin, and you have a great smile!

  30. Albizia says:

    I hardly ever wear sunscreen and I don’t really think it’s necessary if you don’t stay long in the sun or if you are out very early. When I’m at home for the vacation, I go to the beach everyday but I haven’t burned even once this summer. Why? Because I go there only to swim and at about 10:00 – 10:30 I am back home. I am not a fan of tanning. If I’m white, I’m white

    Keep it natural. You are beautiful the way you are :)

  31. Laura says:

    I always seem to “forget”…..and suffer for it!!!!

  32. I never burn, and I know that not an excuse… but I don’t wear sunscreen, like ever :(

  33. Kiki says:

    PB + maple is going on my list of things to try soon. (Seriously, I have one of those. Like on paper on the desk next to me.)

    I only use sunscreen when I know I’ll be under direct sun for a long time, because I don’t burn too easily. And when I do use it, it’s a natural kind because I have thoroughly freaked myself out about the nasty chemicals in sunscreen because of this site:

  34. Fi says:

    Sunscreen is one of the things I hate about summer holidays!! I’m so lazy putting it on but unfortunately I do burn, well, any maple of any nut butter is always good and never gets old!! Xx

  35. BroccoliHut says:

    Sounds like you and I have the same sunscreen habits. I loathe the feeling of sunscreen too–even when I use the sport versions for my runs, it ends up in my eyes, and it makes my pores feel like they’re suffocating. However, my morning runs are pretty much the only consistent direct sunlight exposure I have. I still plan on asking for some kind of running hat for Christmas though–I need some means of protection, I think!

  36. cookeatburn says:

    I’ll wear sunscreen anytime I’m going out for more than a couple of hours (not just lying in the sun, but also walking around town and such), and anytime I am going out for a run longer than an hour. Sunscreen may feel icky and have chemicals, but I think eating well and being active help balance it out and I’d rather slather on some sunscreen once in a while than deal with melanoma later.

    My aunt owns a tanning salon and I used to go there in high school and earlier on in college (maybe about once a week on average), and now I kind of just pray I won’t pay for it later! I didn’t really realize how damaging it could be and now I just hope that my aunt somehow escapes skin cancer – she tans at least twice a week and has done so for the past 10+ years!

  37. Lyza says:

    I use an organic sunscreen that I ordered online from California…I’m not sure if this was better for the environment or not considering it took a plane to get here, but alas, it made me feel a little bit better. It also has coconut in it, which alas, took yet ANOTHER plane to get here to America, I am sure. But…I guess we can’t have it all.

    ANYWAY, LOL I bought two bottles but I’ve probably only used half of one this summer! If I use it, it’s only when I’m going to the beach or about to go for a long bikeride. I also have a sunscreen in my facial moisturizer. I don’t really like a lot of sunlight to be honest–maybe that’s strange, but I really enjoy a gray day. :) I’m pale as can be though! My skin is like translucent!! Maybe in another life I was a vampire 😛

    I never really was into the “tanning” thing…I have always thought pale skin was more beautiful, but that is just me. I think it’s so fragile and lovely and delicate looking. I don’t really understand the tan craze, though I think naturally tan people are exotic and lovely looking, I think all the fake tans look absolutely silly!!

    1. Yes, silly and oompa-loompa-ish!

  38. Eric Jaffa says:

    I like the pale look.

    I don’t like tans. Girls look better without tans.

  39. Marianne says:

    I am a fellow pasty white gal. I don’t tan worth anything, which is fine by me. I’m okay with glow in the dark white 😉 That being said, I don’t wear sunscreen that much, because I like to avoid being in the sun. I have horribly light sensitive eyes, and I burn easily, so it’s better to just avoid it all together. But if I’m going to be out in the sun, then yes, I slather on the sunscreen.

    1. Haha I hear you; why bother laying out to “tan” when it’ll never actually turn to a tan?!

  40. Beth says:

    I used to “forget” sunscreen on my runs (ok, so I wanted to stop being pasty white!) but then I turned 30 and all of a sudden I’m terrified of one thing: WRINKLES. I now have literally 15 different bottles of sunscreen that are all over the place- at home, in my car, purse, gym bag…. if I could shower in it, I would!

  41. 40apples says:

    I am embarrassed to admit I went tanning twice in high school… which, when compared to SO many girls at my school, who went weekly, is small potatoes, but STILL. I’m horrified by the thought now!
    And yet – I rarely put sun screen when I go outside! Gah. I just don’t think about it, if I’m just heading out on a Saturday to walk around and run errands. I get a lot of sun that way, but if I’m not putting on a bathing suit and purposefully going to sit in the sun for a few hours, sun screen just doesn’t automatically occur to me. It really should though….

  42. Kiersten says:

    I rarely wear sunscreen. I know I probably should but I just never think of it before leaving the house. I was a little better about it this summer though because my boyfriend is really good about remembering, so he’d remind me. I have gone tanning before. I went in high school and for a few years after that. When I finally started accepting the way I am and didn’t feel like I “had” to have a tan, I stopped going. I know it’s bad for me anyway, so I am glad I stopped.

  43. Rachael says:

    Pale Irish genes necessitate daily sunscreen for me – I work outside (urban farm) for much of the year, and after a really, really bad burn in Africa (think chunks of skin coming out and children running away in tears), I’m an organic sunscreen fanatic!

  44. We do not use sunscreen either! Never really did, even growing up in sunny FL.

  45. Meghan says:

    I am not good about wearing sunscreen everyday, but when I know I am going to be in the sun, I wear sunscreen, hats and stay in the shade. After working for surgeons who removed a lot of skin cancers, I try to limit my sun exposure. I used to hate it, but I try to embrace my paleness as a sign that I take care of my skin.

  46. Rarely sunscreen. Never tanning beds!

  47. ecogrrl says:

    religiously on my face and hands since i was 20 years old – made a huge difference in keeping my skin looking as young as it does now at 36. just wish i’d done it on my chest as well – i have so much sun damage there :( (love ‘beauty without cruelty’ moisturizer with spf 15)

  48. I’m in the classic ‘high risk’ category. Red head, pale skin, moles and freckles all over and a few blistering sunburns as a kid. :( So yup! lots o sunscreen for me. Living in Australia where 1 in 3 get skin cancer definitely doesn’t help. I still love my tanning cream though :)

  49. I’m really bad at putting sun lotion on at home in Finland but when I go abroad I do it.. but usually forget my back like this year in France. Ahhh, it was painful!

  50. Uh yeah, I sure don’t need “whitening cream”! Ha!

    I’m not really good about sunscreen either. I always put it on if I know I’m going to be outside for a few hours, or if I’m going to the beach, etc, but every day use? I’m not good at remembering.

  51. Lin says:

    As a girl that grew up in Mobile, Alabama I can tell you that Henry would enjoy it. The reason it is the most rainy is because when it rains it POURS and can easily rain 6-8 inches in a day. Hurricane season helps with the rain too, but there are many many sunny days. My family dog can attest to that. On that same note I rarely wore sunscreen once I was too old to have my mother put it on me in the summer and never wore it on a daily basis because I would never burn. Now that I am an adult and sit in a cube all day I burn more easily when I do go out in the sun for a long time so I put it on. Hopefully my lack of sunscreen in my younger days won’t catch up with me!

    1. Ok, I talked to Henry and he says he’ll come visit… as long as the good people of Alabama are prepared to support his raw-carrot addiction ;). Henry follows the food!

      1. Claire Elyse says:

        My dog Oreo has a raw carrot addiction to!
        I am also in the palest of pale category, my friends affectionately refer to me as “casper” from time to time, but after years of attempting the fake tan lotion I decided to embrace the pale. I don’t wear sunscreen either, and I live in Australia, so probably should :p

      2. Lyza says:

        My dog eats carrots too!! If he doesn’t get his daily carrot, he’s terribly sad! So cute :)

  52. Woo! Be proud of your pale skin! I’m pretty white too, and I married into a family of people that tan really well so everyone makes fun of me. Lol. I’m also proud to not wear sunscreen. I put it on myself and my kids when we’re out and I can’t control how much sun we get, but when we stick around home there’s no way I put that stuff on, we just stay inside for a few hours around noon. I seriously think the plain old sun is way better for you that the chemicals in sunscreen, but that’s just my opinion. No reason to feel bad about not wearing it!!

  53. Dixie says:

    I’m originally from Mobile, AL 😀 (currently living in Columbus, OH – dreary compared to south Alabama…. to me anyway) Surprisingly I’ve have only recently heard that about Mobile’s annual rainfall, but I didn’t question it, cause when it rains in Mobile it RAINS!!! The only other place I’ve lived that can compare is New Orleans (but that’s kinda cheating). Ohio doesn’t get that kind of rain but maybe a couple times a year…. I’ll look outside and go “Awww, it looks like home!” Others then look at me like I’m crazy. Of course I look at them crazy while they let their kids play outside in the wind storm caused by the hurricaine that finally meandered all the way up here. Ooops I’m babbling. It just made me happy to see you mention my home town :)

    1. Haha I love babbling about the weather, so I’m glad someone else does too!

  54. I’m also an “I-don’t-usually-burn-and-I-like-getting-my-Vitamin-D-so-why-bother-with-sunscreen” type. I don’t feel bad about it. I mean, I want to make sure I give my body the Vitamin D it needs. Osteoporosis is really common these days because people don’t get enough Vitamin D! I’d prefer to take care of that. If God decides to give me skin cancer while I’m trying to make sure I get my Vitamin D . . . well, then it was meant to be.