Chocolate is the food of the gods, and we have cacao beans to thank for its deliciousness. Cacao beans (Theobroma cacao) are the seeds or nuts of the cacao tree, which has been cultivated for at least three millennia in Mesoamerica and the Amazon.
When you hear people talking about cacao, they mean either the cacao nibs, cacao butter, cacao paste or cacao powder. In a nutshell, chocolate is made like this: after fermentation, the cacao beans are dried, cleaned, and roasted. The shell is removed to produce cacao nibs, which are then ground to cocoa mass.
Cacao is known as a superfood powerhouse for its high antioxidant levels, but most people don’t realise our skin can benefit from these antioxidants through topical application as well.
Let’s bust a myth right now: chocolate doesn’t make you break out, either through eating it or applying it to your skin through skincare products, so relax.
The high levels of polyphenol antioxidants in cacao belong to the same group of antioxidants found in green tea and red wine and protect our cells from premature ageing. Amazingly, raw organic cacao has over 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries.
Cacao is now the subject of scientific research into ageing and some encouraging results have been found. Scientists from Seoul National University in Korea tested the ability of cacao in helping prevent wrinkles and found positive results.
In one study, cacao was found to improve the efficiency of genes involved in maintaining hydration and elasticity when skin was exposed to UV rays (chocolate sunscreen anyone?). The Korean studies, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, says cacao may help regulate skin health at a genetic level and significantly reduce wrinkles caused by sun exposure.
Interestingly, the researchers found cacao boosts skin health by increasing blood flow and improving skin density and hydration.
You’ll find chocolate face masks you can make at home using cacao powder if you look online and I recommend giving it a go for something different. All those antioxidants will certainly do wonders for your skin and your lover may even want to lick it off your face.
WHY WE'RE CRAZY ABOUT COCOA BUTTER
We use cocoa butter, the natural saturated fat pressed from the seeds of cacao beans, in three of our products. As cocoa butter is such a stable fat, this quality coupled with the natural antioxidant content prevents it going rancid, which is a big issue when you're making certified organic skincare products without toxic preservatives.
Cocoa butter, also called theobroma oil, is a creamy-coloured edible vegetable fat extracted from the cacao (or cocoa) bean. It is used to make chocolate and is a popular skincare ingredient because of its velvety smooth texture, subtle fragrance and emollient properties.
Cocoa butter is obtained from whole cacao beans, which are fermented, roasted, and then separated from their hulls. About 54–58% of the residue is cocoa butter. It's rich in oleic, stearic and palmitic fatty acids and contains sterols, tannins and pigments. Cocoa butter has long been known as a treatment for preventing stretch marks (whether it actually prevents stretch marks or simply keeps the skin supple and moist, which in turn reduces the appearance of stretch marks, is debatable).
We love its gentle emollient properties, which help the product become more readily absorbed into the skin. It’s also naturally high in vitamin E, which helps to soothe, hydrate and balance the complexion and can also help with eczema and dermatitis.
The Mukti Organics products that contain cocoa/cacao butter are: