Cocoa butter is the natural fat extracted from the cacao bean. Also known as oil of theobroma, cocoa butter is slightly yellowish in color, and it is used as an ingredient in foods, pharmaceutical products and many products in the beauty industry. It is included in many cosmetics, shampoos and soaps, and it is ideal for lotions and lip balms because it can help make skin soft and supple. The moisturizing abilities of cocoa butter are frequently recommended for the treatment of chapped skin and lips and as a daily moisturizer to prevent dry, itchy skin. The fact that is a natural preservative and has a faintly pleasant aroma lends further benefits to its cosmetic uses.
Products that contain cocoa butter are sometimes claimed to be able to prevent stretch marks in pregnant women or to diminish the appearance of scars. These claims, however, had not been conclusively proved as of 2011. It does, however, promote elasticity in the skin and will aid in the healing of chapped skin if it is used regularly. Some users might consider it beneficial for reducing or preventing stretch marks, scars or other skin blemishes.
Not a Sunscreen
Cocoa butter is often used by people either to expedite a suntan or as a sunscreen. It might enhance a natural tan, but cocoa butter itself does not block the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. To prevent sunburn or other harmful effects of the sun, a person should use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 no matter whether it contains cocoa butter.
Uses in Food
Although it is extracted from chocolate, cocoa butter has a bland taste and only a faint chocolate smell. It is edible, however, and it is used in making white chocolate and certain confections. One desirable quality is its stability as a fat that contains natural antioxidants, which also preserve it well. It has a melting point just below the average human body temperature, which is what causes chocolate to remain solid at room temperature but melt in the mouth. It gives a smooth texture to many confections that contain chocolate and is often used by culinary experts in a baking capacity.
In the pharmaceutical industry, this product is used in the making of suppositories and oral medications in capsule form. It has the ability to retain a molded shape while containing commonly used medicinal chemicals without unstable reactions. The use of cocoa butter as an inactive ingredient in capsules and suppositories is equally desirable because it is considered to be safe.