Cocoa butter is a type of vegetable fat derived from whole cocoa beans (also known as cacao seeds), and is used frequently to add taste, scent and smoothness to foods like chocolate, cosmetics and tanning lotion, soap and many other topical creams. Cacao seeds come from the cocoa tree, which has been used in ancient civilizations such as Mayan and Aztec. Mayan legend describes the cocoa bean as a gift from the Gods, and was used as currency. Nowadays, cocoa beans are harvested from fields around Africa, South America and India.
Cocoa butter was used mainly to make chocolate, for medicinal purposes, and was even considered an aphrodisiac. They’re made by roasting the cocoa beans, which are then cooked for up to two hours, then liquefied and compressed until the liquid separates from the solids. The solids are used to make chocolate powder while the liquids are used to make cocoa butter and chocolate. Cocoa butter melts at body temperature, and is one of the most highly concentrated natural fats available.
Cocoa butter melts gradually when it touches skin and is soothing and easy to apply. It’s often used to treat skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis, and it can help heal calluses, moisturize dry skin, prevent and reduce stretchmarks, and can even give the skin added elasticity and strength. Cocoa butter helps retain moisture by creating a protective barrier across the skin, and is effective in treating wrinkles and other signs of aging. It contains high levels of antioxidants like stearic acid, oleic acid and palmitic acid, which can neutralize free radicals and benefit the skin.
These antioxidants also make cocoa butter an effective treatment for scars. It works to reduce the appearance of scarring and protects the skin from further damage. To treat scars using cocoa butter, simply apply a spoonful to the skin and massage in. Leave overnight and wash off the next morning, repeating until the scar fades. Cocoa butter also provides health benefits if ingested, but it contains a high amount of calories and as such it shouldn’t be eaten too frequently.