What is Cocoa Butter: Benefits, Uses, Characteristics and Side Effects

Ask anyone about the best natural moisturizer and you’ll be told it’s cocoa butter! 

This natural organic moisturizer seems to be referenced in every conversation on skincare but, what really is cocoa butter? Why is it so important? Why is it preferable for treating the skin? Are there any side effects? Can it be used in cooking?

Well, in this article, I’ll share with you all the details you seek in your questions about cocoa butter, and more! We’ll discuss what cocoa butter is, its benefits, uses, characteristics and side effects in detail.


The statistic

Cocoa butter accounted for approximately $5.88B in 2019 and is among the most 500 traded products globally.

A product extracted from the cocoa bean mostly in West Africa, the UK alone import of cocoa butter including oil is valued at approximately 249 British pounds, for 2020, according to Statista.  

Why is cocoa being patronized by the world so much?

Let’s look at history.

History of cocoa butter

Around some countries, cocoa is called cacao cocoa. Cacao is the name specified for raw unprocessed beans in their pods whereas cocoa is the name specified to the bean after it has been harvested, fermented, dried and processed.

In ancient central and south America, cocoa is given the technical name called Theobroma derived from the Aztec word Cacahuatl; meaning food of the gods or black nut.

Like Ccacahuati, Chocolate was also used to sanctify the commencement of sacrifices offered to gods by the Mayans. They believe the Cacao hashave a divine origin and among others span the wide separation between Heaven and Earth in order to connect the two.

As early as 1500-400 BC, the community of The Olmecs discovered through experimenting the Cacao fruits could be used for multiple purposes, including chocolate drinks; which were initially reserved for priests, gods and royals.

In the course of time, the cocoa butter was discovered and used purposely to soothe and relieve fatigue, split lip, uncomfortable skin conditions, and burns.

According to history, way back in 1502 Columbus and his crew aboard a voyage first spotted the cacao in a canoe, belonging to the aboriginals of New Spain who traded the beans as currency. However, this butter trade could not last because the value of cacao could not be predicted.

Despite Columbus and his crew being the first to find the beans, it was the Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortez, who introduced the Cacao tree to Europe. Having shared a chocolate drink with the emperor of the Aztec community when he took a tour, he introduced the drink to Europe with international commercialization plans in mind.

Through Cortez, farming of Cacao trees in Europe soon migrated East, gradually allowing the seed to become an international botanical.

In 1828, a scientist named Conrad Von Houten invented the Cocoa press to extract purer chocolate. It was during the Cacao bean pressing process that Cocoa Butter was discovered.

The seed produced majorly in West Africa and from it derived cocoa butter have been used for centuries to moisturize the skin and protect the skin from the harsh weather.

Cocoa Butter has also been used traditionally for cooking purposes in the olden days and continues to be used today, such as in the production of chocolate. Additionally, Cacao beans were used as currency and continue to be used as such in parts of South America.

Also Read: Cacao Butter vs Cocoa Butter: What the Difference and Uses?

What is cocoa butter?

A native of central and south America, cocoa butter is the fat extracted from cocoa pods during the processing of cocoa seeds from its shell. The cocoa tree, also known as the Theobroma cacao plant, is also mostly cultivated in West Africa.

Extracted through the pressing of mature cocoa seeds, raw cocoa butter turns out yellowish or cream in color, possessing a sweet aroma akin to chocolate, and the only fat found in chocolate, due to its unique feature of being brittle at a temperature below 25 degrees Celsius.  

It is mostly solid at room temperature but melts at 35-37 degrees Celsius. Cocoa butter is mostly used as skin moisturizers globally, yet its health benefits are influencing its use in the kitchen as well as in the food processing industries.  

Cocoa butter serves, also, a moisturizer for dry hair, working on African strands to make them easy to comb.

As an expensive commodity, cocoa butter has a shell lifespan between two to five years.

Also Read: What is Cocoa Butter Made of? Everything You Need to Know!

Types of cocoa butter

Cocoa butter comes in unrefined, refined forms as well as ultra-refined and cocoa organic butter.

Cocoa Butter Refined Organic
Cocoa Butter Refined Organic
Unrefined Cocoa Butter
Unrefined Cocoa Butter

1. Raw Cocoa butter

The unrefined also known as the raw cocoa butter is creamy yellowish and comes with all its natural skincare and health components.it is cocoa butter that is not heated at higher temperatures during processing stages, thereby maintaining its nutrients and saturated fatty acids.

Raw cocoa butter is superlative for extra-sensitive skin like those that develop bumps or keloids, and dry skin affected by eczema. Its raw state also makes it ideal for medicinal purposes as it prevents inflammation of the skin and aids the overall health of the skin.

Also Read: Best Raw Cocoa Butter Without Any Added Products

2. Refined cocoa butter

Refined cocoa butter results in whitish color with most of the ingredients gone. Refined cocoa butter also takes away its chocolate smell, making it unique for skincare manufacturers that want to use it in their cosmetic products without the smell.

Also Read: What Does Cocoa Butter Smell Like? All you Need to Know!

3. Ultra-refined cocoa butter

Ultra-refined, also known to be deodorized, seems to have properties in-between both raw and refined cocoa butter. Having a whitish bright color, it loses its chocolate smell like refined cocoa butter but still maintains most ingredients found in raw cocoa butter. Ultra-refined cocoa butter is stable and emollient, and can be added to products that do not need the chocolate smell; blending well with floral-scented cosmetics.

As an ideal ointment base, it improves skin elasticity, prevents dehydration and restores skin to its health during peeling. It is also a superlative ingredient in natural lotions, creams, lip balms, bar soaps, hair conditioners, and body butter.

Also Read: Best Smelling Cocoa Butter That Will Keep You Smiling

4. Cocoa Organic Butter

This type of cocoa butter is best used in organic cosmetics and shampoos. It is known to be processed and refined to produce a whitish, odorless butter used as a skin moisturizer. Organic cocoa butter is solid at room temperature but melts readily on contact with the skin.

Also Read: 5 Best Organic Cocoa Butter: Pure and Unadulterated!

Health Benefits of Cocoa butter

There are several benefits of cocoa butter medically. Among these benefits are

1. Serves as an anti-inflammatory moisturizer

Cocoa butter is a moisturizer that offers relief to skin plagued with burns, dryness, and irritation. It is believed to enhance the body’s immunity by promoting relaxation, and it is gentle enough to use for masseuse and infection treatment without causing further sensitivities.

Moreover, cocoa butter is used on sensitive skin to reduce, prevent and manage the appearance of scars and unwanted marks such as stretch marks. More notably in Africa, it is believed to serve as a protective mask against the hot sun.

Also Read: Cocoa Butter Benefits for Skin: A Quick Guide!

2. Used to manage African Hair

While repairing damage to hair, cocoa butter replenishes naturally-occurring oils, adds volume and shine, boosts strength and resilience, increases thickness, and reduces kinks that are difficult to comb.

Also Read: Top Cocoa Butter Benefits For Hair: A Quick Guide!

3. Cocoa butter contain Oleic Acids

Also known as Omega 9, oleic acids in cocoa butter helps to maintain the softness, and glow of the skin while nourishing the agility of skin. Oleic acid is the ingredient that stimulates the growth of thicker, stronger and longer hair for all hair types while reducing dandruff

Among others, omega 9 reduces premature aging and skin wrinkling, preventing joint pains and stiffness.

Most commonly, it helps to keep firm cocoa butter from melting in unfavorable conditions.

4. It contains Stearic acid

Stearic acid in cocoa butter is known for purging dirt, sweat, and excess sebum from the skin and hair. Serving as cooking oil, stearic acid in cocoa butter serves as an emulsifying agent that binds water and oil, while helping products steady when stored for a long time.

Stearic acid protects the butter from melting too, by providing a compacted brittle. It likewise conditions hair from damage and softens skin.

5. Vitamin K is found in cocoa butter

Vitamin K, like stearic acid, regenerates hair strands and promotes stronger, thicker regrowth after hair loss. It also boosts the body’s immune system, by providing the ability to clot blood. Thus healing wounds, reducing swelling and skin scars.

6. Cocoa butter contains Linoleic acid

Also known as omega 6 or vitamin F. Linoleic acid moisturizes and promotes hair growth, soothes acne, healing skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis, premature aging and promotes moisture retention of hair and skin. Among others, it is an effective emulsifier in the formation of soaps.

Also Read: Cocoa Butter Benefits for Skin: A Quick Guide!

Health risks of eating Cocoa butter

Cocoa butter is purposely for external uses and for cooking purposes. It is combined with other ingredients to produce chocolates.

Pure cocoa butter does not contain any harmful ingredients that may cause harm when eaten, however, people should not eat or inject cocoa butter-based products for any reason, because it is harmful to health.

Although there are no health risks of eating raw cocoa butter, there are, however, health benefits of eating chocolate; it provides a powerful source of antioxidants, improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure.

Also Read: Can you Eat Cocoa Butter? Uses, Health Benefits and Side Effects!

Facts about Cocoa butter

  1. It is used to make chocolate to keep it firm, consistent and only melts once in the mouth.
  2. Cocoa butter is a healthy fat. Although unhealthy fats tend to be solid at room temperature, cocoa butter is a unique healthy fat that remains brittle even in hot weather.
  3. Cocoa butter medically boosts hormones and immune system whether used in cooking or chocolate, it effectively raises dopamine and serotonin.

Also Read: Chocolate Facts, History, Types & Health Benefits

What does the Research Say about cocoa butter?

Research shows experts continue to vouch for the use of cocoa butter for skin treatment. according to Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, a New York-based dermatologist and dermatopathologist. “Cocoa butter is one of the best emollients around, which makes a super moisturizer”.

Research also proves that cocoa butter is excellent for skin treatment and can be used together with shea butter and other essential oils to effective results.

Also Read: Is Cocoa Butter Healthy? A Comprehensive Guide!

Some frequently asked Questions about Cocoa butter

What is cocoa butter good for?

It is a good moisturizer for all types of skin, especially dry skin.

Parting words:

Cocoa butter is an important fat derived from cocoa beans after extracting cocoa powder. It is an excellent property used as a moisturizer in skin lotions or can be used in the raw form, whichever a person opts for.

There are various varieties or types of cocoa butter including raw, refined, ultra-refined and cocoa organic butter. These types, in one way or the other, can be found in skin lotions, chocolate and food recipes.

It is full of vitamins, saturated fatty acids and emollients for healthy skin, health, hair and treating certain skin conditions such as stretch marks and eczema.

Whether you want to use it as a moisturizer or for cooking, research shows you have nothing to worry about.


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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.