Imagine hearing it was possible to eat chocolate every day and actually have better skin because of it. Fat chance you'd ever buy into that delusion, right? For most of my life, I've been told that the things I love most — happy hours that turn into 4 a.m. nights, Netflix binges 'til the sun creeps in through my curtains, McDonald's happy meals — do not pair well with my complexion. But there's one age-old piece of wisdom I've heard the most: Chocolate leads to breakouts. (Later, I learned that it's not necessarily chocolate, but rather its high sugar content.)
So, when I was a pubescent 13-year-old covered in red spots, I started avoiding chocolate like the plague. Then, just to be sure, I tried my best to stay away from it through high school and college, too. The fear of triggering acne was too strong to overcome, but damn, did I miss the stuff.
So, when I found out recently that there exists a chocolate supplement that promises to help keep my skin looking youthful, I perked up (but tried to stay skeptical, if only to justify my decade-long cocoa ban). Still, I'm a person who takes 10+ supplements a day in the hopes of feeling, and looking, better — I figured, why not add one more to the mix? Enter: Sakara Life Beauty Chocolates.
I have dry/combination skin, but most days, my only hope is to not look like a lifeless corpse. I don't have wrinkles yet, but my skin isn't the most radiant example of a 20-something. I'm on a rigorous skin-care routine of retinol, vitamins E and C, and antioxidants in the hope that by the time I'm 40, I don't look a day over 30. But could 70 mg of collagen-boosting ceramides inside a sexy chocolate cube really do anything for me?
The claim behind the chic supplement is that if you eat 1-2 a day over the course of 2-3 weeks, you should have a noticeably glowing complexion. The chocolates boast a short ingredient list of organic raw fair trade cacao nibs, organic coconut sugar, organic raw cacao butter, and 70 mg of gluten-free, wheat-derived phytoceramides in each piece. That's the star ingredient to pay attention to here.
Ceramides naturally occur in the skin's barrier and play a huge role in retaining moisture, and therefore plumpness, over time, but they deplete as you age. Dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD, of Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery tells us, "By the time you reach your 30s, you will have lost about 40% of your skin’s ceramides." She says that ceramides are the most crucial component of your skin's barrier function, so you need to add them back whenever you can — through topical treatments or, maybe, ingestibles.
There isn't a whole lot of evidence to support the efficacy of ceramide supplements, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's total B.S. Dr. Engelman explains, "Some studies do show that ceramides are absorbed via the digestive system and carried to the stratum corneum by blood, where it circulates, and produces a significant effect in promoting a water barrier in the layers of the skin. But just because we don't know how it works exactly doesn't mean it's not effective."
But it helps to keep expectations realistic. Supplements are a trendy topic these days — just look at the success of Sugar Bear gummies and Hum Nutrition, one of Sephora's very first wellness brands. Dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, Founder & Director of Capital Laser & Skin Care, says that skin "drinks" are popular for now, but certainly aren't a cure for serious skin issues. It's difficult to reach a unanimous opinion on the beauty supplement trend in general. According to Dr. Tanzi, it could all be placebo effect or it could be relatively effective. However, there is evidence to suggest treating skin issues and aging from the inside out is equally important as topical solutions.
Dark chocolate is a superfood. It's no secret a daily nugget of the treat can help prevent the breakdown of collagen, boost moisture levels in your skin, and, some say, make you happier. It's like having a glass of red wine every day to fight free radicals and unwind after work. It's a bonus to reward yourself for already taking care of your body — and your skin. But a strict Merlot and chocolate diet isn't the path to a perfect complexion.
So how did my chocolate regimen pan out? I extended the trial period to a full month and changed my skin-care routine significantly before starting. I cut my extensive routine in half, using only a cleanser, rose water, tea tree gel, and a day/night moisturiser for the 30 days. Instead of playing with nightly lactic acid treatments and charcoal masks, I ate the chocolate when I got home at the end of the day. (And yes, it tastes just as rich and satisfying as any other piece of dark chocolate.)
I normally rate how well my skin looks on whether or not I'd at the very least put concealer on if I'm running out of the house. By the end of the month I felt infinitely more comfortable rocking nothing but mascara. I looked... better? At the end of the day, that's the reason I spend so much time on my skin: to look better without makeup. I glowed like I had just taken a relaxing vacation as opposed to passing for an extra on The Walking Dead.
It must be said that, at $50 (£39), this is a pricey gamble. If you're on a budget, you're much better off splurging on an effective vitamin C serum for bright skin, or a hyaluronic acid cream for moisture — they'll cost the same and last three times as long. But if you're looking to replace your milk chocolate ice cream habit with a treat far less likely to give you a pimple the next morning, I highly recommend popping these. Because when it comes to supplements, chocolate will always beat out fish oil.