Cacao - it’s not just for your chocolate fix, the foam on your cappuccino or the dusting on your protein ball. It has a valuable place in your skincare regime especially if you suffer from dryness.
The superfood features on the ingredients lists of many of our favourite moisturising products (as if we needed an excuse to face plant in chocolate). It’s packed with nutrients and antioxidants to help feed skin (especially dry skin) back to better health.
Here’s the breakdown of its key beauty benefits.
1. It relieves dryness
In its most common forms of theobroma cacao seed butter or theobroma cacao (cocoa) extract, cacao is especially effective at preserving skin’s moisture balance. “It helps to restore the lipidic layer of the skin, reinforcing the skin barrier,” explains pharmacist, cosmetologist and founder of Twelve Beauty, Pedro Catala . This helps reduce water loss and therefore keep skin better hydrated for longer.
2. It protects against free radical damage
“Cacao derivatives are a great source of polyphenol antioxidants,” says Pedro, making it particularly good at strengthening skin’s defences against environmental wear and tear. Its high content of flavanols is particularly of note due to their ability to counteract the damaging effects of oxidation. It’s also rich in vitamin C , copper and fatty acid omega 6, to further bolster its soothing and protective properties.
3. It’s firming
“Cacao also improves the appearance of cellulite by firming the skin and breaking down adipose tissue,” Pedro tells us - hence why the ingredient can be found in a range of skin-smoothing body products (more on that in a sec...).
The best cacao skincare and hair care products
From face oils to body scrubs and conditioners, there’s a wide range of products on the market to help you get your cacao fix. Here are our favourites.
The cleanser: Superdrug Hot Cloth Cleanser, £4.99 for 200ml
This rich and creamy cleanser makes light work of end of day dirt and makeup without leaving skin feeling stripped. A beauty dupe of Liz Earle’s cult Cleanse & Polish, it provides impressive results for its price point. Plus, its muslin cloth is incredibly soft too.
The exfoliator: BYBI Beauty Prime Time Face Polish Tube, £14 for 30ml
Pedro’s top pick, this milky vegan facial polish enriched with cacao, fruit enzymes and marshmallow root is as good for skin as it is for the environment (the tube’s made of sugar cane so it’s 100 per cent biodegradable).
The treatment: Jurlique Purely Age-Defying Firming Face Oil, £38 for 50ml
As well as theobroma cacao butter on its ingredients label, you’ll also find other conditioning goodies such as safflower seed, blackcurrant seed and avocado oils for a more intensive treat for dry skin. Also containing skin firming rock samphire extract and smoothing beech tree bud extract, it’s a great all-rounder.
The hair saviour: Mr Smith Balancing Conditioner, £27 for 300ml
To give dry hair the boot, swap your regular conditioner for this cacao butter-infused one. Silicone-free , it also contains wheat protein for a strengthening boost.
Available from Salon64
The face mask: Perricone MD Cocoa Moisture Mask, £52 for 59ml
Containing innovative cocoa-enriched microcapsules that turns it from off-white to deep brown when applied, this radiance-boosting mask leaves skin smoother, softer and more plumped up. It’s like a Cadbury’s Pot of Joy for your face.
The body scrub: Sister & Co Raw Cacao and Coffee Sugar Scrub, £24 for 300g
Providing a hit of antioxidants via raw cacao butter and a stimulating hit of caffeine via ground robusta coffee beans, this invigorating body scrub is as delicious to use as its core ingredients suggest. Re-energising in more ways than one thanks to its uplifting scent of sweet orange and peppermint, it’s perfect at the end of a long day to wake up tired and heavy legs.
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