Cocoa butter is a vegetable fat derived from cocoa beans. It's extracted by fermenting, drying, roasting and pressing the beans– whatever's left behind after processing is then turned into cocoa powder.
Cocoa butter is often used to make creams, lip balms and lotions. For hundreds of years, people have used it to get smooth and silky skin. While studies have found that cocoa butter can improve skin health, among other health benefits, only a handful are available that list its supposed advantages.
Several studies have shown that cocoa contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Many of these are due to substances in cocoa powder like catechin.
Cocoa butter is also used to make chocolate, along with other ingredients like cocoa powder, milk and sugar. It is believed that cocoa butter offers similar benefits to cocoa powder.
Improves skin health
Anti-aging creams, moisturizers, and other skincare products often include cocoa butter. These products are said to improve skin health by relieving dry skin and improving skin elasticity.
Cocoa contains polyphenols, a group of plant-derived chemicals with come with a range of potential benefits. Polyphenols can improve skin health by relieving inflammation and protecting your skin from sun damage. But polyphenols are mostly found in cocoa powder, and not necessarily in cocoa butter. While cocoa butter is used as an active ingredient in various skincare products, there is little direct evidence that suggests cocoa butter boosts skin health.
Moisturizes your skin
Cocoa butter is often used in skin moisturizers. Many people even use pure cocoa butter to moisturize dry skin.
Cocoa butter is full of fatty acids that help form a protective layer on your skin. These fatty acids prevent moisture from escaping, which then stops your skin from drying out. Additionally, fatty acids in cocoa butter can hydrate your skin and improve elasticity.
Cocoa butter is commonly used as a home remedy for skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
Prevents stretch marks
Some people apply cocoa butter to prevent stretch marks from developing, particularly during pregnancy.
Healthcare experts may recommend the use of cocoa butter during pregnancy to reduce the risk of stretch marks, but no study has verified that it works. It is natural to develop stretch marks during pregnancy, which usually fade in time.
Pure cocoa butter is edible, but it contains monounsaturated and saturated fats, along with some nutrients. (Related: How to make a natural skin moisturizer that you can actually eat.)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that a tablespoon (13.6 grams) of cocoa butter contains 120 calories and 13.6 grams of fat. It also contains traces of vitamins E and K.
Pure cocoa butter is safe for use on your skin, and it doesn't contain any ingredients that may cause problems in most users. While pure cocoa butter is edible, it is best not to consume skincare products that contain cocoa butter.
Cocoa butter-based skincare products may contain other ingredients that can irritate your skin. Check the label for potential irritants before buying and applying products on your skin.
Since cocoa butter skincare products contain only a small amount of cocoa butter and other ingredients and additives, you may want to use pure cocoa butter for the best results.
Another option is to buy whole, unrefined cocoa butter. You can avoid additives in commercial products by melting the unrefined cocoa butter in hot water to make your own creams and lotions.
Experiment with cocoa butter, and combine it with other beneficial ingredients like coconut oil or vitamin E oil. Avoid store-bought skincare products with harmful additives; use organic products with cocoa butter to keep your skin smooth and young-looking.