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Yes, Cocoa Butter Will Really Give You Your Softest Skin Ever—Here’s Why

Photo by Delmaine Donson/Getty Images

If you’re suffering from dry, itchy, cracked, or scaly skin, the solution might be right in front of you in your beauty cabinet or the aisles of your local drug store: cocoa butter. Sure, using cocoa butter to hydrate and soften skin is nothing new, but the reason why this naturally stabilized vegetable fat is still touted as a miracle worker is because it truly does deliver. From moisturizing to anti-aging to anti-inflammatory benefits, applying cocoa butter to your skin goes beyond just hydration, producing lasting results that serve up much-needed nourishment, repair, and moisture. Read on to find out if cocoa butter is right for you and discover how to reap the benefits of this skincare savior.

About the Expert:

Hadley King, MD, FAAD, is a highly sought after board-certified dermatologist in NYC who specializes in medical and cosmetic dermatology. She is also a clinical instructor of dermatology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

First things first: What is cocoa butter?

Before you start incorporating cocoa butter into your daily skincare routine, let’s rewind and break down exactly what it is and why it’s so beneficial for your skin. “Cocoa butter is a naturally stabilized fat extracted from cocoa beans from the cacao tree,” says Hadley King, MD, FAAD, an NYC-based dermatologist. Cocoa beans are found inside a cocoa pod and are dried, roasted, and pressed so that the cocoa butter can be extracted from the beans. The cocoa butter can also be ground down to make cocoa powder.

The benefits of cocoa butter for skin:

If you have dry skin, nothing soothes and moisturizes quite like cocoa butter. That’s because cocoa butter is rich in fatty acids, which provide major moisture to the skin. These acids include “oleic, palmitic, and stearic acids, all of which nourish the skin,” according to Dr. King. These fatty acids have emollient properties, “which help skin barrier function,” says Dr. King. But the cocoa butter benefits don’t stop there—it’s also an antioxidant powerhouse and protects your skin against free radical damage caused by environmental stressors like pollution and the sun’s harmful UV rays, which contribute to premature aging and hyperpigmentation. Cocoa butter is also known to be anti-inflammatory, which also makes it suitable for sensitive skin.

Not only is cocoa butter ideal for anyone with dry skin, but pregnant women often reach for cocoa butter to provide much-needed hydration as their skin stretches to accommodate a growing belly. “Massaging products into the skin may help reduce the risk of stretch mark formation,” says Dr. King. Moisturizing your skin with products that contain cocoa butter, coconut oil, and almond oil allow the skin to stay supple as it stretches. If you’re expecting and you’re looking for a hydrating body butter, look no further than the BALANCED GURU Balm Me Up Organic Sweet Cocoa & Tangy Body Balm, which combines cocoa butter and essential oils to assist in preventing stretch marks and ease itchiness.

While cocoa butter can work wonders on dry skin, it’s best to steer clear of it if you have oily skin or are prone to bad breakouts, as it can be comedogenic. “It does potentially clog pores, so if you have acne-prone skin, I wouldn't recommend it,” says Dr. King.

How to use cocoa butter for your skin:

From shower gels to body lotion, there are a variety of beauty products that can help you incorporate cocoa butter into your daily routine. “Cocoa butter is a great ingredient for moisturizers and moisturizing body washes and cleansing balms,” says Dr. King, who suggests applying a cocoa butter lotion twice daily for maximum moisturizing benefits. In addition to incorporating it into your daily routine, you can also reach for it whenever your skin feels dry. Create a relaxing and nourishing spa-like experience at home with the BAREFOOT VENUS Maple Blondie Bath Soak with Cocoa Butter, which will leave you feeling silky smooth post-bath.

If you want to ensure your skin retains moisture, apply a cocoa butter formula right when you get out of the shower when your skin is still damp, and pat dry.

If you’re unsure which cocoa butter product is right for you, opt for a skincare product that’s ethically sourced. Look for brands that are members of the World Cocoa Foundation, which means they source their cocoa butter from sustainable, ethical farms, says Dr. King, adding that it should be clear on the product’s label or website. If you’re on the lookout for more cocoa butter products, you’ll notice that there are options for unrefined cocoa butter and refined cocoa butter—and the main difference between the two is the color and smell. While unrefined cocoa butter (AKA pure cocoa butter) is yellow and contains a strong chocolate scent, refined cocoa butter is stripped of the color and smell so that it’s easier to incorporate in beauty products.

Not only does cocoa butter provide mega moisturization to your skin, but you can even use it soothe your lips when they’re dry or chapped. “Cocoa butter's moisturizing, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties make it ideal for protecting delicate lip skin as well,” says Dr. King. She also says that using a chapstick or lip balm that contains cocoa butter will “soften, moisturize, and protect chapped lips.”

If you’re looking for a deeply hydrating moisturizer to slather on to keep signs of skin aging at bay, look no further than cocoa butter.

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Article Last Updated August 28, 2020 12:00 AM