People have used cocoa butter for its health benefits for hundreds of years. Research suggests that cocoa butter can improve the skin, and it may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
The research into these benefits is, however, limited. Most studies focus on cocoa powder, which has specific properties that could promote skin health. Little research has looked at whether these benefits extend to cocoa butter.
This article will discuss the benefits of cocoa butter, its uses, and possible side effects.
What is cocoa butter?
Cocoa butter is a type of vegetable fat that comes from cocoa beans. Manufacturers extract creamy cocoa butter from the beans by fermenting, drying, roasting, and then pressing them. They turn the remaining portion into cocoa powder.
Cocoa butter is a common active ingredient in lotions, creams, and lip balms. According to some historical sources, people have been consuming or using cocoa in other ways since 460 AD.
In more recent times, researchers have found that cocoa has several healthful properties, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Many of these properties are due to substances that cocoa powder contains, such as catechin. Cocoa butter may also have healthful benefits.
Cocoa butter is also a primary ingredient in chocolate. Chocolate is made up of cocoa butter and cocoa powder, often with milk and sugar.
Benefits of cocoa butter
The following sections will explore the evidence for the benefits of cocoa butter.
1. Boosting skin health
Many skin care products contain cocoa butter, including moisturizers and anti-aging creams. These products claim to have several benefits for skin health, such as alleviating dry skin and improving skin elasticity.
Cocoa contains several antioxidants called polyphenols, which are a group of plant-derived chemicals with a range of potential health benefits. These polyphenols may have benefits for good skin health, such as reducing inflammation and protecting the skin from sun damage.
These polyphenols are primarily in cocoa powder, not necessarily in cocoa butter.
Despite being an active ingredient in many skin care products, there is little direct evidence that cocoa butter effectively improves skin health.
One cell study suggests that cocoa polyphenols improved skin elasticity and skin aging and suggested that cocoa butter may enhance these effects. However, this was a small-scale study, and scientists need to carry out more research before they know the exact effects of cocoa butter on the skin.
2. Moisturizing the skin
Cocoa butter is a core ingredient in many skin moisturizers. Some people use pure cocoa butter to help relieve dry skin.
Like other natural moisturizers, such as coconut oil, cocoa butter is mostly made up of fatty acids. These fats may help form a protective layer on the skin, preventing moisture from escaping, and therefore stopping the skin from drying out.
Some people also use cocoa butter to relieve skin dryness from common skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis. While this works for some people, there is no scientific evidence that it will work for everyone.
3. Preventing stretch marks
Many people believe that cocoa butter can prevent stretch marks from developing, especially during pregnancy.
Some doctors and midwives may advise the use of cocoa butter during pregnancy to reduce the risk of stretch marks, but there is no evidence that using cocoa butter will achieve this.
One review reports that several studies failed to find any evidence that cocoa butter prevents stretch marks during pregnancy. They add that there is also no evidence that any topical cream prevents stretch marks.
Stretch marks are a natural part of pregnancy, and many will fade over time.
Cocoa butter nutrition
Pure cocoa butter is edible. However, it contains a mixture of monounsaturated and saturated fats and few nutrients.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one tablespoon (tbs) or 13.6 grams (g) of cocoa butter has the following nutritional values:
Cocoa butter also contains small amounts of vitamin E and vitamin K.
Are there any side effects?
Cocoa butter moisturizers may include other ingredients that could irritate the skin.
Cocoa butter is safe for use on the skin. Pure cocoa butter does not contain any ingredients that are likely to cause problems in most people.
People can eat pure cocoa butter but should not ingest cocoa butter products designed for the skin.
As with many skin care products, cocoa butter formulations may contain other ingredients that could irritate the skin. Always check the label for potential irritants.
Cocoa butter is a type of fat that comes from the processing of cocoa beans. It is the primary ingredient of chocolate, and many people use it as a topical treatment for its potential skin benefits.
Cocoa butter could help to promote skin health and moisturize the skin. Though many people find cocoa butter beneficial, there is currently little to no scientific evidence that supports these claims. More research in this area may provide some evidence for the benefits of cocoa butter in the future.
Many popular skin care products contain cocoa butter as an active ingredient. People can purchase these products in drug stores or supermarkets or choose between brands online.