Cocoa butter might bring to mind decadent desserts like chocolate molten lava cakes, fudge layer cake, and chocolate ice cream. Yet this tasty ingredient is also a staple in skin creams and other health and beauty products. Unlike the cocoa butter in your dessert, the one in your soap won’t make you gain weight. But can it improve your appearance?
People have used cocoa butter for its health benefits for hundreds of years. Research suggests that cocoa butter can improve the skin, and it may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Cocoa has been used in medicine for around 3,000 years. It was a favorite ingredient of the ancient Aztecs and Mayans, who even used cocoa for currency. More recently, researchers have discovered that compounds called phytochemicals in cocoa might help keep both your body and skin healthy.
Cocoa butter contains small amounts of vitamin E and vitamin K. Cocoa contains several antioxidants called polyphenols, which are a group of plant-derived chemicals with a range of potential health benefits.
The antioxidants found in cocoa that protects the skin from oxidative stress by neutralizing the agents that cause oxidative stress, which is a major factor of dermal structure deterioration and premature skin aging as well as protecting the skin from sun damage. It's an antioxidant powerhouse! just another way it helps your skin withstand the passage of time.
Cocoa butter is a type of fat that comes from cocoa beans. To harness cocoa butter, the beans are taken out of the larger cacao plant. Manufacturers extract creamy cocoa butter from the beans by fermenting and drying them. Then they’re roasted, stripped, and pressed to separate out the fat—the cocoa butter. The remnants are then processed into cocoa powder.
Many of these properties are due to substances that cocoa powder contains, such as catechin. Cocoa butter is high in fatty acids, which is why it’s often touted for its ability to hydrate and nourish the skin and improve elasticity. The fat in cocoa butter forms a protective barrier over skin to hold in moisture.
Like other natural moisturizers, such as coconut oil, cocoa butter is mostly made up of fatty acids. These fats may help form a protective layer on the skin, preventing moisture from escaping, and therefore stopping the skin from drying out.
One common use of cocoa butter is to smooth scars, wrinkles, and other marks on the skin. Gracie’s Soaps with cocoa butter can be used during and after pregnancy to prevent and minimize the appearance of stretch marks. Cocoa butter has also been promoted to heal rashes from conditions like eczema and dermatitis.
Because of its high fat content, cocoa butter has a richer, denser feel than many other moisturizers. It’s often compared to shea butter, which comes from the seeds of the shea tree found in West and Central Africa.
"Cocoa butter is an amazing moisturizer, as it's rife with fatty acids. It's also rich in antioxidants!" says Dr. Mudgil