Monday, April 4, 2011

Ingredients Series: Cocoa Butter


Cocoa butter is a lovely solid vegetable fat derived from cocoa beans. It's a significant component of white and milk chocolate and has a chocolatey aroma. The low melting point of cocoa butter allows it to melt onto skin at body temperature, so it is useful for making solid balms intended to be used as spreadable emollients. Cocoa butter is useful for treating dry skin, itching, and uneven skintone and stretch marks.

The cocoa tree, theobroma cacao, is native to South and Central America, but is cultivated all over the world. A large portion of cocoa plants are grown in African countries. Cocoa butter and cocoa solids are extracted from the fatty seed which grows inside the fruit known as a cocoa pod.

Cocoa butter is a favorite ingredient of mine. I use it to make lipsticks, lip balms and butters, lip scrubs, and soaps, both for its skin-softening properties and amazing smell. I'm also planning to use it in body moisturizers and lip gloss.

Fun fact: Cocoa butter does not contain caffeine or theobromine, the chemical that adversely affects dogs when ingested (they are not fat soluble). It's ok for dogs to eat white chocolate, and the danger from eating chocolate increases with the amount of cocoa in the chocolate (as in dark chocolate), and the amount eaten relative to the size of the dog.