When we hear the word “chocolate,” most of us think of an indulgent treat. However, this superfood is much more than a relished dessert — it’s also a powerhouse ingredient in the world of skincare. Chocolate has been found to help stimulate blood circulation, hydrate, tone, and brighten skin. Let’s look at its backstory and delve into chocolate’s benefits for the skin and overall wellness.
History of Cocoa
The Mesopotamians believed the Gods discovered the cacao tree and used its fruit as food, which is why the botanical name (Theobroma cacao) translates to “food of the gods.”
Beginning around 1500 BC, people in the Mesoamerica region of North America and Central America used cacao as a ceremonial beverage. They believed cacao connected humankind to the gods, used it ceremonially in important life events, revered it as a healing beverage, and considered it a luxury. Next to maize, it was the most important plant food in Mesoamerica.
The Mayan and Aztec cultures in tropical regions of Central and South America, where cacao is native, believed cacao was connected to creation and symbolic of the start of life. They baptized their children with a mixture of cacao, virgin water, and crushed flowers during an initiation ceremony.
Cacao made its way to Europe around the 1500s after the Spanish conquest and began to spread worldwide.
Today, we use cocoa in various forms to elevate skincare products with its beneficial properties. Whether at the spa or home, a new-age skincare regimen, incorporating cocoa ingredients can help skin stay hydrated and healthy.
Cacao, Cocoa, and Cocoa Butter: What’s the Difference?
Although the terms cocoa, cacao, and chocolate are often used interchangeably, a few significant differences exist in their composition and skin benefits.
What Is Cacao?
Cacao is the raw, dried, and fully fermented fatty seed of the fruit of the cacao tree. Rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, it’s often found in powder form.
Some skincare products contain cacao nibs because they work well as a natural exfoliant to remove dead skin cells and promote cell growth.
What Is Cocoa?
Cocoa refers to roasted seeds (beans) of the cacao tree.
Cocoa is rich in polyphenols (micronutrients that occur naturally in plants) and contains more antioxidants than other “superfoods” like green tea, pomegranate, goji berry, and blueberry. Cocoa beans also contain several minerals — such as magnesium, copper, potassium, and calcium — that enhance vascular function and help reduce the risk of hypertension.
What Is Cocoa Powder?
Cocoa powder is a concentrated form of cocoa. It is the end product that results after cacao beans have been fermented, roasted, and pressed to remove most of the cocoa butter from them.
Cocoa Powder Benefits
Cocoa powder, or dark chocolate, contains flavonoids, iron, zinc, and magnesium — elements known to help support immune function, cardiovascular health, and metabolism. Its potential benefits for skin include helping to improve skin elasticity, reduce scarring, and remove toxins.
What is Cocoa Butter?
Cocoa butter (cocoa seed butter) is the oil found in cacao. It is a mixture of monosaturated and saturated fatty acids.
Cocoa Seed Butter Skin Benefits
With vitamin E and polyphenols, cocoa butter offers some anti-aging benefits. It helps promote healing, combat free radicals, protect against the sun’s UV ray damage, and add moisture to the skin.
Scientific Research on Chocolate’s Health Effects
While cacao traditions date back to ancient times, modern-day researchers have been studying chocolate’s potential health advantages when consumed orally and topically.
- Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health and Disease 
- Cocoa Flavanol Supplementation Influences Skin Conditions of Photo-Aged Women: A 24-Week Double-Blind, Randomized, Controlled Trial 
- Cocoa Bioactive Compounds: Significance and Potential for the Maintenance of Skin Health 
- Enhancing Human Cognition with Cocoa Flavonoids 
These studies and others have shown promising but mixed results, so more research must be done to explore the possibilities and limitations of cacao’s potential to enhance health.
Make Skin Care a Priority — You’re Worth It!
The skin is the largest organ of the body, serving as a protective shield against light, heat, injury, and infection. So, it’s well worth investing in the very best quality products to maintain its health.
Now that we’ve discussed how chocolate is good for your skin, consider our cruelty-free Chocolate Decadence spa products to ensure you get the benefits of pure cocoa ingredients.
- Chocolate Decadence Lip Balm — made with organic sunflower oil, cocoa butter, and cacao powder — pampers lips and helps protect them from the sun’s damaging rays.
- Chocolate Decadence Body Scrub — made with natural, organic cacao powder and raw cacao beans — gently exfoliates, softens, and brightens skin.
- Chocolate Decadence Body Butter — made with pure, unrefined virgin cocoa butter — softens skin and restores moisture.
All ingredients in Makes Scents Natural Spa Line products are ethically sourced and free of harsh chemicals. We manufacture our products in our cGMP-certified production facility to ensure unparalleled quality and consistency.
Have questions about our chocolate spa products or any of our other offerings? Contact us today!
- Katz, D. L., Doughty, K., & Ali, A. (2011). Cocoa and chocolate in human health and disease. Antioxidants & redox signaling, 15(10), 2779–2811. https://doi.org/10.1089/ars.2010.3697
- Hyun-Sun Yoon, Jong Rhan Kim, Gyeong Yul Park, Jong-Eun Kim, Dong Hun Lee, Ki Won Lee, Jin Ho Chung, Cocoa Flavanol Supplementation Influences Skin Conditions of Photo-Aged Women: A 24-Week Double-Blind, Randomized, Controlled Trial, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 146, Issue 1, January 2016, Pages 46–50, https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.115.217711
- Scapagnini, G., Davinelli, S., Di Renzo, L., De Lorenzo, A., Olarte, H. H., Micali, G., Cicero, A. F., & Gonzalez, S. (2014). Cocoa bioactive compounds: significance and potential for the maintenance of skin health. Nutrients, 6(8), 3202–3213. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu6083202
- Socci V, Tempesta D, Desideri G, De Gennaro L, Ferrara M. Enhancing Human Cognition with Cocoa Flavonoids. Front Nutr. 2017 May 16;4:19. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2017.00019. PMID: 28560212; PMCID: PMC5432604.