Cocoa butter comes from the cacao bean, which is found inside the cocoa pod that grows on the cacao tree. The cocoa pod is a large, gourd-shaped fruit; inside the pod are 30 to 40 cocoa seeds. Cocoa butter is an excellent multitasker, acting as:
An antioxidant powerhouse: Cocoa butter is high in antioxidants, which help fight off free-radical damage to the skin. Free radicals can cause skin aging, dark patches, and dull skin. Protecting your skin from free-radical damage is a must if you want to keep it healthy and youthful-looking.
A stretch mark and scar reducer: Many women claim that the regular use of cocoa butter keeps stretch marks at bay during and after pregnancy. These claims are anecdotal, but you’ll find many anti-stretch mark cocoa butter products to choose from. In fact, Palmers, a skincare line devoted to cocoa butter, offers a product just for stretch marks.
A deep moisturizer: Cocoa butter is high in fatty acids and hydrates the skin deeply, making it a wonderful addition to body moisturizers and lip balms. It contains oleic, palmitic, and stearic acids, all of which nourish the skin.
Cocoa butter melts at skin temperature but is rather hard at lower temperatures; put a piece of cocoa butter in your palm, and it will begin to melt immediately. This is why it makes a great additive to products like lip balm. It helps keep such products thick but melts and moisturizes deeply upon contact with the body.
If you do like to make your own skincare products, here are a few to try that incorporate cocoa butter:
Cocoa body scrub and body butter: The blog Keeper of the Home shares two amazing cocoa butter recipes that will exfoliate and hydrate your skin.
DIY body butter: The blog Our Little Green Dot offers a luxurious, heavenly-smelling recipe that combines cocoa butter, coconut oil, and sweet almond oil.
Lip balm: Mother Earth Living has a super-easy recipe for make cocoa butter lip balm. Double or triple the recipe to have a stock of lip balms at hand. They make great gifts, too.