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What It Is
“Cocoa butter is an edible fat extracted from the cacao bean,” explains Claire Williams, skin specialist and founder of WOW Facial. The beans grow on the cacao tree, mainly found in West Africa and Central and South America, and is often used in cooking, specifically to make chocolate. Additionally, it’s used in many skincare products – especially moisturisers. “Lots of moisturisers will list it as an ingredient,” adds Claire. “There is a raw form of cocoa butter that is yellow/light brown in colour and there is a refined form, too. The refined form is what cosmetic companies use. It’s cleaner and doesn’t have the distinctive ‘chocolatey’ or foodie scent – so it’s perfect for adding to body lotions and creams. It’s also used as a moisturising agent in some body washes and soaps, and can sometimes be found it lip products, too.”
The Main Benefits
Because cocoa butter is a saturated fat, it has a melting point slightly lower than the temperature of the human body – which is why you’ll find it melts on contact. Claire explains: “This is what makes it very easy to apply and the reason it feels so nice on the skin. It’s highly moisturising, reduces trans-epidermal water loss and is loaded with antioxidants to reduce damage from free radicals and reactive oxygen species. It also has anti-inflammatory benefits and can really calm and soothe irritated skin.” Finally, those looking for anti-ageing skincare will be glad to hear cocoa butter has the power to dramatically improve the elasticity of the skin and can also improve the appearance of scars and stretch marks over time. You’ll also see it added to sunscreen and lip balms – it’s edible, too, which makes it safe to use in these close-contact products.
How To Use It
“It's very high in fatty acids so it's worth using as a protective barrier for the skin – especially during colder weather when skin might be prone to irritation,” says clinical aesthetician and founder of skin clinic Mortar & Milk, Pamela Marshall. “Think of it as a blanket that holds moisture in the skin but be aware it’s not often recommended for use on the face – especially if you're someone who is prone to breakouts.” Claire agrees: “While the raw stuff is loaded with good antioxidants, avoid using the raw kind on your face and stick to using the pure version just on the body instead.” Some people also recommend using the raw version as a natural make-up remover but, if you do decide to go down this route, it’s imperative you remove every last trace so that pores don’t get blocked.
Who It’s For
Pamela says she often recommends it to clients who have extremely dry body skin or those suffering from eczema. “Along with adding essentially fatty acids into their diet, it allows us to work from both the inside and outside of the body,” she explains. “However, anyone who is prone to acne – even just a small bit of hormonal acne – shouldn’t use it, as it's too heavy. It works well as an occlusive barrier protector – so it's great to use on the lips and on the body – but don’t try and play home chemist and come up with your own product. Always find a well-formulated cocoa butter product – there are so many to choose from these days.”