Cocoa butter…there’s simply nothing like it, to me. The texture, the scent, the way it starts off as a hard slab, and simply melts as it is pressed on skin. The chocolatey scent. Cocoa invites back rubs and long soaks in the tub. Oh, and did I mention the scent!?
One reason why I wanted to start a skincare company, and the reason I started experimenting with raw ingredients some years ago, is because I adore cocoa butter. I definitely love Shea as well, but cocoa is just such a silky indulgence, has a mouthwatering scent (that scent again!) and just feels so sexy, sensual and somehow naughty, that it’s the kind of thing you only want to use in private (or use with a good friend in private, which is way better.)
Cocoa is also called Theobroma, which literally means “food of the gods”, and has been used in skincare preparations essentially since humans lost their fur and decided to walk on 2 feet (and thus, got sunburn and blistered feet). Well, nearly that long anyhow.
However, the 3 reasons why I really love cocoa has nothing to do with it’s outwardly sexiness or its god-like status. Nope. The true beauty of cocoa runs far deeper.
1. Cocoa butter is rich in vitamin E.
Cocoa’s source of Vitamin E is in the form of both tocopherol and tocotrienol, which makes it easy for the skin to absorb. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant (and one reason why Argan is so popular…it’s got E oozing out the wazoo), which might prevent wrinkles by softening and smoothing skin. Many say Vitamin E is great at preventing premature ageing, but you know how I feel about that.
Wrinkles come from cellular damage caused by improper diet, smoking, drinking, stress, an improper skincare regime and too much sun exposure. And the passage of time! Anyhow, antioxidants can really help in undoing some oxidative stress by reducing free radical damage. It isn’t a free pass for bad behaviour, more just the hall monitor giving you a wink and turning her back when you were supposed to be somewhere else.
Meaning, the vitamin E will help your skin retain elasticity and can help boost collagen production, but it’s obviously no fountain of youth, so keep up your good habits!
2. Cocoa butter has anti-inflammatory properties.
The high level of Vitamin E, catechins, procyandins, and polyphenols found in Cocoa butter all have anti-inflammatory properties, a must for anybody with skin ailments such as psoriasis or eczema. Also useful for those of us who get razor burn! Studies have shown that cocoa contains something called Cocoa Mass Polyphenol, which is shown to slow down the production of an immuno globulin that aggravates skin allergies and reactions. There’s some anecdotal evidence that massaging the skin with Cocoa butter can boost the immune system (yeah….cause it’s so freakin’ relaxing, for one!).
3. Cocoa butter is a natural barrier.
Cocoa butter is such a fantastic natural barrier, that even the FDA says so! And you know the FDA, they’re not giving these awards out to any ol’ butter on the block. Especially if it comes from some suspicious looking tree (the FDA is often suspicious of trees, I like to imagine.)
Stark is concerned with what happens to our skin when living in the city, and one way to keep the bad out and good in is by physically blocking the outside. This is essentially how any moisturizer works; keeping the skin moisturized by not allowing outside elements to dry it out. However, it matters what this moisture barrier is made of! Cocoa butter can block out the damaging effects of pollution, harsh winds and even the sun (doesn’t fully replace SPF, but has some of its own), while nourishing and softening skin.
So, whereas a petrochem product does a nice job of sitting there like a lazy blob(talking to you, mineral oil…you poor excuse of a free-loader oil, you) cocoa is multi-tasking by healing and regenerating cells, keeping you all soft and supple, retaining your hard-earned moisture, and keeping the Smogies out of your epidermis.
Do you love Cocoa butter? How do your cats feel about it? Have you had a hot chocolate lately? Because I think they’re under-rated.