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Skin myths: all about cocoa butter's skin benefits

Cocoa butter is often hailed as a miracle skin ingredient - but what are its real skincare benefits? We take a look at what cocoa butter and cocoa derivatives can really do for skin.

What is cocoa butter and how is it developed?


As its name suggests, cocoa butter is derived from the cocoa bean. These are harvested, roasted and ground after having their shells removed, before being sifted and strained. This leaves a fine powder (cocoa solids) and an oily liquid, which cools and hardens to become the cocoa butter we know and love. 

Adored by skincare experts for its hydrating, nourishing and protective properties, cocoa butter can be found in everything from lip balms and lipsticks to body butter. Cocoa butter is also a key ingredient in chocolate, whose high levels of polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) have been linked with a variety of global health benefits.[1]

Cocoa butter’s skin benefits: true or false


Cocoa-based products have been suggested to positively improve skin’s health. Initial studies examining consumption of cocoa bioactive compounds - such as polyphenols and methylxantines - have suggested a link with a reduction in oxidative stress.[2]
Intriguingly, studies have also found that another cocoa bean derivative, coconut oil, can block up to 20% of UV rays -[3] although it goes without saying that it’s no substitute for a full-coverage SPF.

clinical studies have found no concrete evidence to suggest a reduction in the appearance of stretch marks following application of cocoa butter products

Cocoa butter is also reputed to help reduce the appearance of stretch marks, particularly during pregnancy.
However, while many pregnant women find cocoa butter to be an effective skin hydrator, clinical studies have found no concrete evidence to suggest a reduction in the appearance of stretch marks following application of cocoa butter products.[4]


That said, cocoa butter enjoys a reputation as one of the best skin moisturizers on the market.
Its rich texture and high concentration of oleic acid (a fatty acid) make it a popular body moisturizer.[5] It can usually be found in a variety of textures, from a creamy liquid to a waxy balm.

Sources:

[1] Wollgast, J. ‘Polyphenols in chocolate: is there a contribution to human health?’ in Food Research International 33.6 (2000) pp. 449-459 [Accessible at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0963996900000697]
[2] Scapagnini, G. et al, ‘Cocoa Bioactive Compounds: Significance and Potential for the Maintenance of Skin Health in Nutrients 6.8 (2014) pp. 3203-3213 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4145303/]
[3] Korać, R. et al, ‘Potential of herbs in skin protection from ultraviolet radiation’ in Pharmacognosy reviews 5.10 (2011) pp. 164-173 [Accessible at:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3263051/]
[4] Buchanan, A. et al, ‘Prevention of striae gravidarum with cocoa butter cream’ in International journal of gynaecology and obstetrics : the official organ of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics 108.1 (2010) pp. 65-68 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19793585]
[5] Indian Journal of  Dermatology (2016) 61.3, pp. 279–287. ‘Table discussing properties of 4 main types of moisturizers’: [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4885180/table/T1/]

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