Using Cocoa Butter for Your Face
Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, FAANP — By Taylor Norris — Updated on March 7, 2019
Before you use it
Cocoa butter quality
What’s cocoa butter?
Cocoa butter is a plant-based fat taken from the cocoa bean. It’s extracted from roasted cacao beans. In general, cocoa butter is a rich moisturizing cream. Pure cocoa butter may be packaged on its own or processed with other ingredients and sold as a body cream.
Let’s take a look at how you can use cocoa butter to moisturize and rejuvenate your face so you can decide if it’s right for you.
Cocoa butter in lotion and cocoa butter in food
Cocoa butter lotion can replenish skin’s moisture and create a barrier to protect your skin from moisture loss. Compared to other oils and creams, cocoa butter tends to be absorbed well without leaving skin greasy. However, cocoa butter definitely helps skin maintain its elasticity and tone.
People often believe that cocoa butter can prevent stretch marks. Two separate studies, one with a group of 300 womenTrusted Source and another where 175 women completed the studyTrusted Source, concluded that cocoa butter did not prevent stretch marks from forming any more effectively than other moisturizers.
Parts of the cocoa plant have been used to treat acne, psoriasis, skin cancer, and wounds. But more research is needed to verify exactly how effective cocoa products are for skin health.
Lucky for us, eating cocoa also offers many of these benefits, even for the skin.
Benefits of eating cocoa
The cocoa plant has high levels of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant phytochemicals. Phytonutrients have been studied for their anti-cancer properties. ResearchTrusted Source found cocoa to have more phytochemicals (basically the plant’s active ingredient) than both tea and red wine.
An overview of many studies found that the phytochemicals in cocoa might also increase blood flow in the skin and protect against sun damage. Both of these benefits can help maintain healthy skin as well as decrease visible signs of aging skin.
Using cocoa butter for your face
You can apply cocoa butter to your skin once or multiple times per day.
Using cocoa butter might improve the overall health and appearance of the skin on your face. Moisture, elasticity, and sun protection are all desirable attributes for keeping skin looking healthy.
Since pure cocoa butter becomes oily when melted, it would be good to try as a natural makeup remover. Thicker cocoa butter, closer to room temperature, may work well on dry lips.
Cocoa butter for facial scars
If you’re worried about the appearance of scars, doctors recommend routine massage to the skin. Massage isn’t shown to reduce the appearance of scars more than two years old. More recent scars may benefit if you do the following:
Massage in a circular motion over the scar.
Massage vertically across the scar.
Massage horizontally across the scar.
For best results, massage 2 or 3 times a day, for 10 minutes at a time.
Depending on your own skin care routine, you may prefer to use it after your face has been cleansed and exfoliated so that your skin can really absorb it. However, cocoa butter can clog your pores, so it may be best to use it on areas other than your face.
Is there research to support using cocoa butter on your face?
No studies prove the benefits of using cocoa butter on your face. In fact, we still don’t understand many of the ways that cocoa butter works on the skin.
Most claims about the benefits of cocoa butter for your face are anecdotal. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it. But if you’re looking for guaranteed results, you should explore ingredients with scientifically proven effects.
Things to know before using cocoa butter for your face
Cocoa butter is considered safe, so long as you’re not allergic to the cocoa plant. Cocoa butter will not have any caffeine in it, either, unlike cocoa powder.
However, cocoa butter is known to clog pores. So use caution before applying cocoa butter to your face. If you’re prone to acne and breakouts, you may not want to use any products that list cocoa butter as one of the first seven ingredients in a product. If cocoa butter is listed far down the line of ingredients, or if you’re not worried about acne, you don’t have to be quite as concerned.
An oil’s chemical structure determines if and how badly it clogs pores. Cocoa butter’s molecules are packed very tight together, which makes it very comedogenic (pore-clogging). Oils that are less comedogenic include olive oil, almond oil, and apricot oil. Soybean, sunflower, and safflower oil will not clog pores at all.
What to look for when shopping
Many lotions, creams, and even hair and lip products contain cocoa butter. It may even be advertised as the main ingredient. Read a product’s label to determine how much cocoa butter is actually in the product.
You can tell how much cocoa butter is in a product based on where it’s listed relative to other ingredients. Ingredients are listed in order from most predominant to least. Look for products where cocoa butter is among the first few listed ingredients in order to get the most benefits.
Pure cocoa butter is hard at room temperature. You can find tubs of it in health food stores. You’ll need to warm the whole container in a bowl of hot water before you can scoop it out or apply it to your face. It will become very soft and easy to spread as it warms up.
What else is good for my skin?
Keep your sin healthy from the inside and out by:
drinking enough water
getting enough sleep
eating a healthy diet
using sunblock all year long
Cocoa butter is the pure fat derived from cocoa beans. Preliminary research shows that cocoa butter has a lot of potential benefits for skin nutritionally. Sometimes, cocoa butter is used in lotion but it may not be best for your face because it can clog your pores.
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