Most of us would probably agree that the most difficult season for the skin is winter. And although extensive summer sun often does more long-term damage to the skin, cold harsh winds, drying indoor heating, and freezing cold temperatures can make the skin feel dry, itchy, stretched and uncomfortable. To combat some of this intense winter wear on the skin, try using a body butter on your skin for smoother, softer, protected skin. Body butters such as cocoa butter and shea butter have a rich velvety texture and a large amount of natural fats that both help to re-moisturize and hydrate the skin in extremely cold temperatures, as well as protecting the skin from cold drying winds and below zero temperatures.
Cocoa butter is actually a vegetable fat that is pale yellow in color. There are several fatty acids in cocoa butter including: Oleic Acid(34.5%), Stearic Acid(34.5%), and Palmitic Acid(26.5%) Cocoa butter is solid at room temperature, but easily melts when it reaches the body’s temperature(around 38-40 Celsius). It is also referred to as “theo broma oil”. Cocoa butter is extracted from the cocoa bean, which is roasted and then ground. From this point, the fat or cocoa butter is separated from the cocoa or chocolate of the nut. Roughly 56% of the cocoa bean is cocoa butter. Unlike cocoa or chocolate, cocoa butter has only a trace of caffeine within it. Cocoa butter is sometimes used as an ingredient to make chocolate(mainly white or milk chocolate, but occasionally dark as well) and it is also a popular ingredient for soaps, lotions and other skin care products and toiletries.
Cocoa butter has many positive characteristics as a skin care ingredient. To begin with it has a delicious chocolaty aroma, that is sure to please any chocolate lover. It is also rich in fats and has a velvety texture making it very moisturizing for the skin, especially skin that has been exposed to the elements. It is good for burned skin or extremely dry skin. It is often used to prevent stretch marks, and helps to heal chapped lips and mouth sores. It is also a very stable fat, full of antioxidants, which gives it a long shelf life of 3-5 years.
Buying Cocoa Butter Products
There are many great products out in the market containing cocoa butter including ‘s cocoa butter products for new or expecting mothers. To prevent and soothe stretch marks try Baby and Eve Mummy Tummy. It is available at Noah’s food market and cost $34.19 for a 120 ml. jar. It contains both shea butter and cocoa butter. If you are looking to relieve dry skin on the feet, Noah’s natural foods also carries the Seaweed Bath Company’s Foot butter for $13.99. It contains both seaweed and cocoa butter and helps to relieve chapped, rough, dry heels and feet. If you are in a creative mood you can also try buying your own cocoa butter and adding it into your favourite skin care recipes. Adding a tsp. to a simple lip balm recipe, or melting half a cup into a simple coconut oil and sugar body scrub can be extra moisturizing and nourishing for the skin. Now Solutions sells a 207 ml. jar of plain cocoa butter for just $13.99 for a jar. It too is available at Noah’s natural food markets.
For inexpensive and easy to find drugstore products Vaseline Intensive care sells cocoa butter lotions and products at affordable prices and also has a descent Skin Deep Data base rating from the Environmental Working Group.
For lighter liquid Cocoa Butter and Shea butter body oils try the Body Shop’s Beautifying Body Oils in a variety of scents including: Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter and Chocolate. The E.W.G’s Skin Deep Data base rating for these oils is a little high at 4, but the oils are fragrant, reasonably priced and very moisturizing for winter skin. For a lower, healthier E.W.G. Skin Deep Data base rating try: Johnson’s Baby oil in Shea and Coconut with a low 2, E.W.G. Skin Deep Data base rating.
Shea butter has many similar properties to cocoa butter. It is also a fat that is ivory in color and solid at room temperature, but also melts at the body’s temperature. It too contains many fatty acids, with the prominent ones very similar to those found in cocoa butter: Oleic acid(40-60%0, Stearic acid(20-50%), Palmatic acid(2-9% ) and linoleic acid(3-11%). Shea butter is produced in Africa from the Shea Butter tree. It has a long history of being an African skin care remedy and beauty treatment. Historically it was used and valued by Cleopatra for it’s cosmetic properties. It dates back thousands of years to early Egypt but continues to be a valued skin and hair protector that helps to treat and block the fierce, hot sun and dry winds of the African dessert. Shea butter is great for the skin as it absorbs rapidly into the skin and is used as a “re-fatting” agent. Shea butter has a small amount of sun blocking abilities as it absorbs a small amount of ultraviolet rays. It is used extensively in lip glosses, moisturizers, cleansers, emulsions, hair conditioners and soaps. It is sometimes used for cooking and occasionally used for chocolate making instead of cocoa butter, although there is a noticeably different taste in this chocolate. In Africa, it has sometimes been used for candle-making and to treat percussion instruments.
There is a special community process to how Shea butter is collected and processed from the Shea butter trees. It is essential a community production mainly produced and crafted by the women of the village. It begins with cracking and separating the nut from the outside shell and then crushing the shea nut and grinding the nuts. They are then roasted over an open wood fire. Roasted shea nuts are then grounded into a smooth paste. Water is then added to the nuts and the nut is shaped and rolled into small balls to collect for use.
Shea Skin Care Products
Skin care products that contain shea butter are rapidly abundant these days. One company that specializes in some great Shea products is L’occitane en Provence. Some of the best products they sell include The L’Occitane En Provence Ultra Comforting Cleansing Milk with Shea and Organic Cotton. This product is one of their best with an ultra-low E.W.G. Skin Deep Data base rating of 0(perfect score with no harmful chemicals). Also good is the L’occitane En Provence Shea Butter Lavender Soap and the shea buttermilk soap. The E.W.G. skin deep data base rating for these soaps is: 3.
Also try Shea butter products from Hudson, which offers African Fair Trade Society products. The Hudson Shea Butter Soap and Shampoo Bar is $9.59 for 4 oz. available at Noah’s natural foods, and the Shea Body Cream in Rose scent and the Shea Butter Body Cream in Citrus Ginger are both $14.79 for a 4 Oz. container.
For a product that contains both Shea Butter and Cocoa Butter and is available in both health food stores and drug stores alike try Burt’s Bee’s Shea Butter Hand Repair Cream with Cocoa Butter and Sesame oil. It is just $10.99 for 50 grams at Noah’s Natural Foods and slightly higher priced at Shopper’s Drug Mart.