The Antioxidant Properties of Dark Chocolate. How it Can Improve Your Skin’s Health

Cocoa beans are part of the cocoa plant fruit (Theobroma cacao L.) used to prepare various products such as chocolate, cocoa butter, jelly, liqueurs, cosmetics, etc. Cacao is a plant with high levels of minerals and antioxidants. Dark chocolate is consumed worldwide by different populations and is known for its good taste, making it one of the most favored food products.

What is so unique about chocolate? In recent years, there has been growing interest in the study of natural components, primarily because of the consumers’ increased awareness that natural food ingredients are better and safer than synthetic ones.

Explanation of dark chocolate and its components

Dark chocolate is chocolate without any added milk solids. The basic ingredients are cacao beans, sugar, an emulsifier like soy lecithin to preserve texture, and the flavorings such as vanilla. The more cocoa and less sugar dark chocolate has, the more bitter it will taste and a small amount is considered a healthful snack.

The benefits of dark chocolate for the skin

The cocoa in dark chocolate contains antioxidants called flavonoids, which may provide several health benefits. The bioactive compounds in dark chocolate may also be great for your skin. The flavanols can protect against sun damage, improve blood flow to the skin, and increase skin density and hydration.

Yes, you’ve heard it – dark chocolate, not milk or white can;

Protect from sun damage

According to research, eating dark chocolate gives you a smoother skin texture, 25% less skin redness when exposed to the sun, and prolonged skin hydration. Flavonoids in chocolate help reflect harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays off your skin, preventing sunburn and conditions like skin cancer. Dark chocolate also helps fight skin discoloration.

Promotes cell growth

Essential minerals found in dark chocolate like copper, iron, and zinc promote cell growth and nourish your skin, keeping it looking younger. Dark chocolate also detoxifies skin and sloughs off dead skin cells, helping your skin look fresh and radiant.

Reduces stress

High levels of stress can wreak havoc on your skin. Magnesium, the original chill pill, suppresses the release of the stress hormone cortisol. Since dark chocolate contains ample magnesium, it helps reduce stress, which in turn prevents collagen breakdown, keeping your skin healthy. Magnesium also helps you sleep better which is important for healthy skin.

Reduces inflammation

Chronic inflammation keeps your body in a constant state of alert. Flavanols in dark chocolate help reduce inflammation, help with skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema, and keep the skin looking youthful.

What are Antioxidants and How Do They Affect the Skin?

An antioxidant is a substance that inhibits oxidation, especially one used to counteract the deterioration of stored food products. In other words, antioxidants slow down the damage that can be caused to other substances by the effect of oxygen. The sources of antioxidants can be natural or artificial.

Antioxidants are often found in skin care product formulas because of their powerful anti-aging benefits. Many skin products contain antioxidants, such as retinoids, vitamin C, or vitamin E. The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) recommends these products for some people but advises caution for others when using them.

A 2021 review reiterates that antioxidants help protect the skin from harmful UV radiation, which can accelerate skin aging. They also stimulate the production of collagen, reduce DNA damage from UV light, improve hydration and softens the skin.

It is noteworthy that growing older is positively linked to cognitive and biological degeneration such as physical frailty, psychological impairment, and cognitive decline. Oxidative stress is considered as an imbalance between pro- and oxidant species, which results in molecular and cellular damage. Oxidative stress plays a crucial role in the development of age-related diseases.

Emerging research evidence has suggested that that antioxidant can control the antioxidation by interrupting the propagation of free radicals and subsequently reduce oxidative stress, improve immune function, and increase healthy longevity. Indeed, oxidation damage is highly dependent on the inherited or acquired defects in enzymes involved in the redox-mediated signaling pathways.

Therefore, the role of molecules with antioxidant activity that promote healthy aging and counteract oxidative stress is worth discussing further. Oxidative stress can impact multiple aspects of your health. When there is an imbalance in your body and free radicals exceed antioxidants, there can be lasting harmful effects. Conditions such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, cancer and cardiovascular disease have been linked to oxidative stress.

Antioxidants can play an important role in your body. They protect your body from free radicals, which become more prevalent through oxidative stress. In turn, they can help protect cells from damage. This huge role of antioxidants can be a factor in preventing or reducing the effects of heart disease, cancer and other lifestyle diseases.

Naturally occurring antioxidants are found in vitamins C and E, carotenoids, flavonoids, and tannins. These sources include fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and spices. Antioxidants can also be found in cocoa, tea, and coffee.

How Does Dark Chocolate Benefit the Skin?

Of course, the darker the chocolate the better! Any 70% dark chocolate or higher contains antioxidants, fiber, potassium calcium, copper, and magnesium, according to an overview published in December 2019 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

The antioxidants in dark chocolate improve blood flow to your skin and protect it from sun damage, increase skin density and hydration. Eating chocolate high in flavanols – that is, dark chocolate – can protect your skin from the effect of UV (ultraviolet) rays.

What are the Specific Benefits of Dark Chocolate for the Skin?

Dark chocolate helps reduce dark spots and pigmentation and keeps skin glowing and healthy. It also works to bring back skin moisture and keeps it locked in, improves collagen content, and boosts circulation, all of which helps delay the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Specific ways dark chocolate can improve the skin’s health and appearance

Improving hydration and moisture levels

Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which help to increase skin moisture levels and improve skin elasticity. This leads to more supple, hydrated and youthful looking skin. This delicious treat is not only known for its incredible flavor, but it also helps improve your skin hydration.

Protecting against UV damage

The cocoa in the dark chocolate that you love can also protect your skin from ultraviolet damage from the sun. Dark chocolate contains four times as much phenols and catechins as tea – antioxidants that protect our skin from sunburn and skin cancer.

Reducing inflammation and redness

Inflammation is part of the body’s natural immune response to germs and other harmful substances. However, chronic inflammation can damage cells and tissues. Flavanols help reduce inflammation and keep the cells that line the arteries healthy to prevent risk of skin diseases.

Promoting collagen production

Collagen is a major component of your skin. It plays a role in strengthening skin, as well as elasticity and hydration. Dark chocolate has the most positive impact on collagen production. It helps increase collagen levels in the body and promote healthy complexion.

Improving blood flow and circulation

Dark chocolate improves your circulation. When the flow of blood to arms and legs slows, it can become painful to walk. But eating 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate helped people with a condition that decreases blood flow to the legs to walk 15% longer and 11% farther than those who ate milk chocolate, according to a 2014 study.

How to Incorporate Dark Chocolate into Your Skincare Routine

There are different ways to use dark chocolate for skincare. You can try a face mask for oily skin, dark chocolate face mask, clay and chocolate face mask, chocolate and cream face mask, toning chocolate face mask, chocolate peel off mask, chocolate mask for dull skin and oatmeal and chocolate pack for dry skin.

Now, try this mask at home and let your skin indulge in chocolatey goodness.                                

  1.  Add a quarter cup of melted dark chocolate, 1 tablespoon of honey and a few drops of freshly  squeezed lemon juice in a bowl.
  2. Mix well and apply the paste on your face and neck.
  3. Let it remain for 15 minutes while you keep on massaging the paste on your face gently in circular motions.
  4.  Rinse it off gently with warm water.

I would highly recommend these five dark chocolate products for skincare.

  • Frank Chocolate and Coffee Scrub
  •  Nivea Nourishing Cocoa Body Lotion
  •  Palmers Cocoa Butter Formula Body Lotion
  •  Vaseline Intensive Care Cocoa Radiant
  •  Jergens Ultra Healing Dry Skin Moisturizer

It’s your Turn to Improve Your Skin’s Health…

Do you remember how everyone keeps telling you to include more veggies in your diet and exclude sweet treats for a healthy and glowing skin? Yes, you don’t have to listen to them anymore! 

You are not being asked to ditch the green vegetables completely but eating dark chocolate can give you some amazing beauty rewards that can make your skin glow from inside out. Some beauty benefits that range from protecting your skin from harmful ultraviolet rays, reduction of stress and inflammation to improving blood flow and circulation. Dark chocolates are high in cocoa that offers minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, which are the perfect ingredients for nourishing skin.

Photo of author
Hi, Nelson here... is the lead reviewer here at Cocoaness. A cocoa enthusiast and an ‘honest’ reviewer. I know cocoa more like you know your favorite fruit. I’m a farmer by birth because of my family’s vast cocoa farm in Ghana. In fact, I will be a chocolatier in the near future.