Let's Make it "Butter" Series: All about Cocoa Butter and its Benefits for the Skin and Body


what is cocoa butter


Cocoa butter is a very popular product that is heavily used in many bath and beauty products (specifically skin care) to promote skin and body health. Cocoa itself has many well researched healing properties and has been used in conjunction with other natural medicines for over 3000 years.

It has roots, (according to 2014 published literature) that dates back to nutritional and medicinal purposes by the Mayan and Aztec civilizations. 

Cocoa consumption and specific compounds have been associated with reduced risk of chronic diseases as well having anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, according to one annual review of nutrition article, 2013.

It has also been reported that consumption of cocoa rich phytochemicals may help skin health. 

Now it's important to note much of the research out there focuses on cocoa powder, and compounds called phytochemicals in cocoa itself. The cocoa plant itself contains an enormous range of beneficial components, however the process of things like extraction, roasting, fermentation, most likely changes the chemical profiles of cocoa components. 

In this post, we'll talk about cocoa butter and how it my be beneficial to add to your skin and health care regimen. 





What is Cocoa Butter?


cocoa butter for the skin


Cocoa butter (also called theobroma oil) is a type of fat found in cocoa beans. The fat is extracted from these beans and turned into a butter-like substance. It can be extracted in a multiple step process which includes fermentation, drying, roasting and then finally pressing. 

The purpose of this is to separate the fat out, which is your cocoa butter. The resultant is a pale yellow, actually edible vegetable fat. 

This butter is used in all kinds of beauty and health products, skin creams, lotions, balms, soaps, and many other health products. 

Like other natural butter's, you too can create your very own DIY body and skin products with cocoa butter.


Top Benefits of Cocoa Butter:


1. Dense Moisturizing For The Skin

Cocoa butter is rich in fats, more so than many other types of extracted "butters". The moisturizing properties of this ingredient makes cocoa butter one of the more sought after products. 

Cocoa butter is high in fatty acids which have been noted for there ability to hydrate and nourish the skin, as they can help retain moisture, as well as create a barrier for the skin. 


cocoa butter in handmade soap


2. * Claims * Perfect For Reducing The Appearance of Stretch Marks?

Many stretch mark creams and lotions contain cocoa butter in them. This is because cocoa butter is believed to help reduce the appearance of  stretch marks, but what does the research say on this?

One Ex-Vivo study demonstrated that cocoa polyphenols can improve skin elasticity and skin tone. 

Polyphenols are a high quality antioxidant found in cocoa. Some experimental and epidemiological evidence is out there highlighting that the intake of cocoa polyphenols has many benefits. Including reducing the risk of cardiovascular events, blood pressure lowering activity, anti-inflammatory, and improving endothelial function. 

One can imagine, evidence such as this has brought cocoa itself more to the mainstream media and production on how manufactures and companies can harness the power of cocoa through butters, oils etc. 

It's important to note however, that other studies like this one in 2008, found that when applying lotion containing cocoa butter to reduce developing striae gravidarum in pregnant women, no reduction was noted. 


3. Works As a Good Lip Balm

Cocoa butter is an all natural, actually edible substance and along with it's dense, thick, smooth texture, and the facts it's an emollient, makes it a popular ingredient for lip balm. 

As you already know, cocoa butter is an effective moisturizer that goes deep into the layers of your skin. When it is applied to the lips daily, it can help prevent cracking and a chapped lip appearance. 


4. Protects Your Skin



cocoa butter for skin benefits



Cocoa butter creates a formidable barrier between your skin and the outside world, with it's thick, dense structure. With this butter on your skin, contaminants and UV rays may be decreased (potentially helping decrease the signs of aging), as well as helping to lock in moisture.

Cocoa (itself) consumption with high amounts of flavanol, does in fact help with dermal blood flow, and increases photoprotection and can help with overall skin health according to one study in 2007.

However, again we are left with the imposing question as to whether once altered and extrated into cocoa butter, is the effectiveness of the benefits from consumed cocoa retained?




5. Great For Your Scalp

Finally, with the fatty acid chains and dense texture of cocoa butter, it may be a good alternative to some other products for helping with dry skin and scalp health. These fatty acids help to increase the melting point of cocoa butter as well, resulting in a longer deeper penetration into the skin. 

This may help prevent things such as dandruff and more healthy hair follicles.


Final Thoughts!

Many of the "butters" on the market, themselves, do have benefits. However some of the broad claims on butters such as cocoa butter, need to heavily researched more. It's truly up to the individual to test specific products out and see what works for you.

Please share any of your experiences with products containing cocoa butter and results you've had with the community. Thanks for visiting!



Resources:

-https://bettersheabutter.com/is-cocoa-butter-good-for-skin-the-surprising-benefits-uses-of-cocoa-butter/

- https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/cocoa-butter-benefits#benefits

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4145303/

https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/10.1146/annurev-nutr-071811-150642

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1468-2494.2008.00457.x

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5456324/#:~:text=Cocoa%20is%20a%20rich%20source%20of%20high%2Dquality%20antioxidant%20polyphenols.&text=Beyond%20antioxidant%20properties%2C%20cocoa%20polyphenols,and%20also%20improve%20endothelial%20function.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18715434/

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00394-006-0627-6

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