Cocoa Butter Is The Powerful Skin-Care Ingredient You’ve Been Underestimating

Fairytales got one thing right: Magical beans do exist. Just ask the academics who recognized the chocolate-producing potential of cocoa beans and gave the cacao tree a scientific name that means “food of the gods” in Greek. Or talk to dermatologists, who give the same divine bean props for its extractable cocoa butter, a naturally-stabilized fat that has long been used as a moisturizer for skin. But in an age wherein exotic plant-derived butters (moringa, marula, and murumuru, to name a few) are added to everything from lotions to bronzer, does good old-fashioned cocoa butter still make the grade?
It does — and then some, 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,” he says, noting the butter’s high fatty-acid content, which can heal and protect skin. Dr. Mudgil also likes the tried-and-true ingredient for its booming phytochemical count: The natural compounds improve blood flow, which in turn helps bring nutrients to the skin while ridding it of environmental pollutants.
“As an added bonus, it’s rich in antioxidants, which help protect the skin from damaging toxins, like pesticides, cigarette smoke, car exhaust, and UV rays,” Dr. Mudgil says. If that wasn't enough to make us rethink the old-school ingredient, the pro explains how cocoa butter can go beyond simple skin care to improve lip plumpness and hair health, ahead.

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