May 31 2020 – Henrieta Haniskova
Food of the Gods. That's how the Cocoa bean was viewed by the Aztecs. The botanical name Theobroma means exactly that. But did you know that Cocoa beans were and are still today used as currency in some parts of the world today? It's true!
We take it for grated that we can just stroll into the corner store and pick up a chocolate bar. Chocolate flavor is common and feels like a given in every cookie isle in the supermarket. But a solid chocolate as we know it has only been around for 170 years. Prior to that, chocolate, which was consumed in the form of a beverage was exclusively reserved for the wealthy elite and royalty.
Are you starting to see the motive for our formulating choices? Cocoa butter is one of our main ingredients in our butters and balms and there is a very good reason for this that is not even related to how treasured and revered this beautiful plant and it's fruit is. Yes, we love the smell. And another perk, its edible. And we all know how busy those little hands can get and how surprisingly stealthy and fast they are just when you expect it the least. We also are aware of the need for a baby to explore the world with the mouth, the most sensitive part of the body. No wonder everything ends up in there. And the last thing you want is to spend the afternoon on the phone googling "what to do if my baby eats cosmetic cream". With Royal H you smile and make a joke, laugh it off and gently pry the tin from your baby's freakishly strong grip, so that you can have more for later. That's it!
But let's get into the nitty-gritty of what Cocoa Butter actually is.
Cocoa Butter is a rich natural fat derived from the cacao beans contained inside the pods of the Cacao Tree. The difference between the words Cocoa and Cacao is that Cacao is the name given to the raw, unprocessed beans found in their fruit pods, whereas Cocoa is the name given to the beans after they have been harvested and processed.
In West Africa, where more than half of the world’s commercial cocoa is produced, and in parts of Central and South America as well as in the Caribbean – countries to which they are indigenous – Cacao beans have been harvested for centuries to create Cocoa Butter. This smooth emollient with a mild aroma has been used for centuries as a moisturizer that heals and protects skin and hair that is exposed to the harsh effects of the sun and the wind.
As early as 1500-400 BC, the community of The Olmecs discovered that the Cacao tree’s fruits were not only edible but that the fruit could be processed for a multitude of purposes. Over time, the Cacao fruit came to be known for its medicinal properties, being used to address intestinal infections and diarrhea, to regulate the thyroid, to reduce secretions, and to work as a mild stimulant. The tree’s young leaves were found to be advantageous for disinfecting wounds, while the peels of the beans were applied in remedies for diabetes as well as ailments affecting the liver, bladder, and kidneys. Cacao beans and leaves were brewed into concoctions for addressing cough, asthma, colic, loss of appetite, weakness, malaria, fractures, parasites, pneumonia, and poisoning. Lastly, the butter made of the beans was used to soothe and relieve fatigue, split lip, uncomfortable skin conditions, and burns.
The first time the drink and its brewing equipment was introduced to the Spanish court in 1528. The cultivation of Cacao trees in Europe soon migrated East, eventually allowing them to become an international botanical. In 1828, a scientist named Conrad Von Houten invented the Cocoa press to extract a purer chocolate. It was during the Cacao bean pressing process that Cocoa Butter was discovered.
Cocoa butter is obtained from whole cocoa beans. For use in chocolate manufacture, the beans are fermented before being dried. The beans are then roasted and separated from their hulls to produce cocoa nibs. About 54–58% of the cocoa nibs is cocoa butter. The cocoa nibs are ground to form cocoa mass, which is liquid at temperatures above the melting point of cocoa butter and is known as cocoa liquor or chocolate liquor, which is then pressed to separate the cocoa butter from the non-fat cocoa solids. Cocoa butter is sometimes deodorized to remove strong or undesirable tastes. Left un-deodorized is labeled as crude and has a powerful, beautiful chocolate smell.
Cocoa butter is becoming increasingly costly. But still for a product to be labeled "chocolate' it must contain 100% cocoa butter in the United States. The EU requires that alternative fats not exceed 5% of the total fat content.
The main chemical constituents of Cocoa Butter are: Oleic Acids, Stearic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Linoleic Acid, Arachidic Acid, Palmitoleic Acid, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, alpha-Linolenic Acid, and Phytosterols (namely Stigmasterol).
I know it's quite the mouthful. So let me just sum it up with some simple benefits that us mere mortals can easily understand.
-Promote moisture retention in skin and hair
-Soothe and promote the healing of skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis
-Exhibit anti-inflammatory properties
-Facilitate wound healing
-Moisturize and tighten the skin
-Enhance skin elasticity to prevent symptoms of premature aging, such as wrinkles
-Have antioxidant properties that slow the look of aging and boost circulation
Have you learned something new? I have barely just began!
Used topically, Cocoa Butter melts at body temperature and works to naturally soothe dry, sensitive skin while reducing and preventing the appearance of scars and unwanted marks. Its richness in vitamins and anti-oxidants makes it ideal for use as a moisturizer that promotes skin health and relieves the itching, chapping, peeling, or burning discomfort associated with conditions such as eczema and dermatitis.
By creating a protective barrier between skin and the harsh, weathering environmental elements, Cocoa Butter’s saturated fats allow skin to retain its required moisture, thereby restoring the health of by remaining on the skin for hours despite being easily absorbed. The polyphenols in Cocoa Butter are known to diminish the appearance of aging by enhancing skin’s moisture content, skin tone, elasticity, and collagen production. By virtue of these polyphenols, Cocoa Butter is reputed to avert skin sensitivities, damage, and degeneration. By deeply penetrating skin to offer intense hydration, Cocoa Butter boosts dermal circulation while facilitating the reparation of damaged skin as well as the growth of newer, healthier skin that looks and feels younger, softer, and smoother. Cocoa Butter is believed to have photo-protective properties that serve to protect the skin from harmful UV radiation. It can also be used to protect against frost bite or even indoor heat.
Used medicinally, Cocoa Butter works as an anti-inflammatory moisturizer that offers relief to skin afflicted with the swelling, irritation, and redness characteristic of conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and rashes. Cocoa Butter is reputed to naturally enhance the body’s immunity by promoting relaxation. This in turn facilitates stress relief by decreasing the feelings of fatigue that can often weaken immunity. Cocoa Butter is gentle enough to use for soothing burns and infections without causing further sensitivities.
Cocoa butter is the richest source of saturated fatty acids known in nature. This closely resembles the fat that is stored under the skin on infants and young babies, which is what makes baby skin so plump and perfect. We loose this type of fat stored under our skin with age. This is one of the main reasons why we love Cocoa butter for baby skin and skin stretching to accommodate a baby to keep it elastic and able to make space.
We use organic crude or pure prime pressed Cocoa butter in our formulas, which is known to…
- Be carefully processed to maintain its purity and natural properties
- Be one of the most stable fats
- Soothe and moisturize skin that has been exposed to the elements to keep it supple
- Be an excellent ingredient in recipes for lotion bars, lip balms, body butters, and soaps
- Contain natural antioxidants that prevent rancidity
- Have a hard consistency at room temperature
- Melt at body temperature
- Have a medium to strong scent like a strong, bitter chocolate
- Be an organic virgin butter
- Retain the characteristic soft, sweet scent of chocolate
- Be widely used in the cosmetic and soap industries
- Be beneficial for reducing the appearance of scars, stretch marks, and wrinkles