Summer sun buffs and skin-care devotees are no strangers to the skin benefits cocoa butter imparts when it is added to a sun exposure or moisturizing product. But what is cocoa butter – and where does it come from? So many questions! Let’s get started with the basics.
Cocoa butter is also called theobroma oil. It is pale-yellow in color, and actually an edible vegetable fat that is extracted from the cocoa bean. That’s right, you can eat it – and probably have done so many times in your life since cocoa butter is an ingredient in chocolate.
Not too surprisingly, cocoa butter tastes and smells like…cocoa. Yum! But be forewarned that cocoa butter is very high in calories so weight watchers beware.
Have you ever seen a cocoa bean plant? Surprise: it actually grows on the Cocoa tree:
Where does cocoa come from? So glad you asked!
“Cocoa beans are native to parts of Central and South America and have been harvested to make natural skin moisturizers in places like Mesoamerica and the Caribbean for centuries,” according to Dr. Axe.
To extract cocoa butter, whole cocoa beans are fermented and roasted before being separated from their hulls. About 54–58% of what is left is cocoa butter.
Fermenting cocoa beans, SolomonIslands (Photo: David Kebu, Jr)
Now, don’t get upset when I tell you that Vitamin E enriched cocoa butter is a saturated fat – because it’s the healthy type, like coconut oil.
Cocoa butter, as mentioned previously, is also used as a thickening agent in a variety of toiletries, ointments, and pharmaceutical items. One of the most stable fats known, its natural antioxidants keep it from becoming rancid with age.
Cocoa butter has a fairly low melting point. This characteristic, combined with its 2-5 year shelf life, make it a perfect base oil for suppositories and other medicinal creams: smooth – like buttah.
Cocoa butter has a smooth, silky texture that nourishes dry and parched skin. It is a superior emollient that is great for chapped lips. Research has found cocoa butter reduces the appearance of scars on the skin, boosting its overall health.
Among the additional health benefits of cocoa butter, along with skin care, we can add:
Hair care – prevent hair loss
The highly concentrated antioxidant fatty acid compounds present in cocoa butter include:
Stearic acid (about 24 percent to 37 percent of total fat content)
Palmitic acid (24 percent to 30 percent)
Myristic acid (0 percent to 4 percent)
Arachidic acid (around 1 percent)
Lauric acid (only about 0 percent to 1 percent)
Although especially effective for skin treatments, the antioxidants help neutralize free radicals throughout the body. This reduction of oxidative stress fights wrinkles and age marks.
The moisturizing agents in cocoa butter make hair soft and sweet-smelling – but did you know that this veggie fat lowers the incidence of dandruff? Cocoa butter beefs up your hair follicle beds (from which hairs grow) to reduce hair loss and pattern baldness.
How about grabbing a chocolate facial sometime soon?
Seriously, Tidy Mom has a 2-ingredient recipe that will rock your world and give you a healthy, happy complexion – so enjoy a life enriched by cocoa butter!