Cocoa butter is the popular name for the solid fats that can be extracted from cocoa beans. It has a faint yellow color and is also known as oil of theobroma. Cocoa butter has many uses, not only as food but also as an ingredient in cosmetics and pharmacy products. It hydrates the skin and makes it softer, so it can be found in lip balms, skin lotions and many types of soaps or shampoos. It is a very effective moisturizer, so it works very well against dry skin or lips that develop cracks. Cocoa butter is also a useful general skin cosmetic that helps people with dry skin types. It is a popular ingredient in cosmetics because it has a nice aroma and works as a natural preservative.
The raw material for cocoa butter is cocoa beans. These must be first fermented, then roasted and finally have their hulls removed. The solid matter known as cocoa butter is around 54 to 58% of the residue. It is separated from the other solids by pressing the remaining matter; this extraction procedure is known as the Broma process. The cocoa butter can have a strong taste that can be unpleasant; in this case an additional deodorization process is needed.
Similar to animal butter, cocoa butter is very rich in fats, which are saturated derivatives of palmitic and stearic acids. However, the product loses some of the best known components of cocoa beans, which are theobromine and caffeine.
During the extraction process, many of other cocoa bean components are eliminated. As a result, the butter no longer has the attractive chocolate taste and smell. It remains edible and can still be used for some sweets, for example confections or white chocolate. The fats in its composition are stable and it has a long shelf life due to the high content of antioxidants. It is solid at normal temperatures but melts quickly in the mouth, since the melting point is almost similar to the normal temperature of the human body. In cooking, cocoa butter is known to improve the texture of chocolate products and it is often used for baking.
Cocoa butter is a great natural skin cosmetic. Besides moisturizing the skin, it also penetrates it and increases the rate of healing from the inside. Cocoa beans are packed with powerful antioxidant agents, which give chocolate its benefits for mental functions and heart health. These compounds are also found in cocoa butter. The reason why the cocoa butter is an effective skin hydrating agent is the rich content of saturated fats, which persist for hours on the skin surface and are absorbed quickly.
People with sensitive skin benefit greatly from natural moisturizers because they don't cause any irritation at all. Commercial products often contain artificial fragrances, additives or dyes that can hurt the skin. Cocoa butter works best when combined with other natural products with a hydrating effect, such as castor, argan, jojoba or other essential oils. These will make your skin smooth and soft again, treating peeling.
Cocoa butter can become too hard if stored for a long time in a cold location. However, you can simply add a bit of hot water in order to make it creamy again. Boiled water can instantly make cocoa butter spreadable but its texture depends on the type. Most of the cocoa butter available commercially is deodorized, which gives it a hard texture and a brittle consistency. By contrast, black cocoa butter remains soft and spreadable even at normal room temperatures.
This butter is a very common ingredient in lip balms and can be used on the lips in raw form as well. It is also possible to prepare a natural lip balm at home, by combining cocoa butter with various essential oils, for example vanilla, peppermint, grapefruit or orange.
Some of the most interesting compounds found in the butter are named cocoa mass polyphenols. According to some studies, these are able to treat skin rashes and dermatitis, as well as delay the signs of aging. Antioxidants of this type are active both when applied topically on the skin and when ingested as part of the daily diet. They reduce the rate of skin degeneration and sensitivity. In addition, cocoa polyphenols are known to combat some types of cancer and cure chronic diseases.
Polyphenol antioxidants were found to be very beneficial for the skin. They keep the skin hydrated, which improves its tone and elasticity, boosts collagen production and makes it healthier overall. Several studies have proven that cocoa butter is as good as some of the best available commercial cosmetics, but does not irritate or harm the skin at all since it's a natural product without any chemical ingredients.
Applying cocoa butter on the skin is very easy; just rub a small amount of the raw product on the affected areas. You don't have to mix the pure butter with any other ingredients such as alcohol or perfumes, since these can hurt burnt skin and increase inflammation.
The cocoa butter is also an effective cure against skin diseases such as dermatitis or eczema and can counter many types of rashes. The effect is even stronger if the cocoa butter is mixed with other natural products with similar properties, such as tea tree oil or aloe vera gel. Since cocoa butter is edible, you can also use it inside your mouth for its healing properties. It can help heal painful sores or various blisters that appear on the lips or gums.
Cocoa butter can also be a natural alternative for shaving foam. It has excellent hydrating properties and melts quickly in contact with hot water. A small amount is enough; rub it on your face for a smooth shaving experience that leaves the skin in great condition. You can also apply it after shaving, since the pores are opened by heat and the butter can enter and moisturize the skin.
For a long time, saturated fats were believed to be a main cause for heart diseases. Due to modern research, we now know that saturated fats with plant origins have the opposite effect and actually reduce the risk of such diseases. In the case of cocoa butter, the polyphenols in its composition seem to fight atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of blood vessel walls. These compounds make cocoa butter an effective anti-inflammatory food, since they decrease inflammatory markers. Other compounds in cocoa butter reduce the risk of heart attacks and other circulatory problems, mainly by regulating the metabolism of fats.
Cocoa powder is much richer in antioxidants and polyphenols than cocoa butter, since some of these compounds are lost during the processing phase. The dried cocoa powder is thus a lot more effective against various diseases and has a much stronger antioxidant effect. The cocoa butter contains the same natural agents, but the concentration is lower. If you plan to consume cocoa for its health benefits, it is a good idea to choose the powder. The darker the powder to chocolate is, the more antioxidants and phenols it contains, so read the labels carefully and buy dark chocolate. The so-called cooking or baking chocolate often has the highest amount of cocoa powder.
Plant polyphenols have been extensively studied for their antioxidant properties. They were found to reduce inflammation, shield cells from mutations and DNA damage and boost the immune reaction. These effects fight the root cause of many serious diseases like heart conditions, autoimmune problems and cancer. As a result, cocoa butter can be a very healthy alternative to refined vegetable oils. Including it in your diet will boost your immune system, reduce inflammation and maintain hormonal balance.
Cocoa butter has been traditionally used to treat stretch marks, especially by pregnant women. However, clinical studies have failed to conclusively prove that cocoa butter is an effective cure for this problem, despite popular belief. Even if many people report a clear and visible reduction of stretch marks after applying cocoa butter, studies have concluded that placebo treatments lead to pretty much the same result. You can still use the cocoa butter against stretch marks if you wish, but you should be aware that it might not be the most effective treatment available.