Cocoa butter, also called theobroma oil or theobroma cacao,is a pale-yellow, pure edible vegetable fat extracted from the cacao bean. The most desirable quality of cocoa butter is its stability as a fat containing natural antioxidants that also preserve it well. Cocoa butter is one of the most stable fats known, containing natural antioxidants that prevent rancidity and give it a storage life of two to five years, making it a good choice for non-food products. Cocoa butter has a melting point just below average 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 containing chocolate and is often used by culinary experts in a baking capacity.
It is used to make chocolate, biscuits, baked goods, pharmaceuticals, ointments,and toiletries. Cocoa butter has a mild chocolate flavor and aroma. The smooth texture, sweet fragrance and emollient property of cocoa butter make it a popular ingredient in cosmetics and skin care products, such as soaps and lotions. The moisturizing abilities of cocoa butter are frequently recommended for prevention of stretch marks in pregnant women, treatment of chapped skin and lips, and as a daily moisturizer to prevent dry, itchy skin. However, despite such recommendations, the largest clinical study regarding the effects of cocoa butter on stretch marks in pregnant women found that it had no more discernible effect than did a placebo (although in a different study a cream with tocopherol, a form of vitamin E, resulted in fewer such stretch marks than did a placebo). The fact that it is a natural preservative and has a faintly pleasant aroma further lends benefits to its cosmetic uses. Pure Cocoa butter is also traditionally attributed for helping skin in diminishing burn marks and making scars less visible over a short time. However, there is no clinical evidence for this claim either.
Cocoa butter is also used in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. In the pharmaceutical industry, cocoa butter 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 safe.
Cocoa butter is often found as an additive to cosmetics, shampoos and soaps, but it is also a natural emollient making it ideal for lotions and lip balms. The moisturizing abilities of cocoa butter are frequently recommended for prevention of stretch marks in pregnant women, 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 further lends benefits to its cosmetic uses.
Though many believe that cocoa butter has the ability to reduce or diminish the appearance of scars, this is a theory that is yet unproven. It does however, promote elasticity in the skin and will aid in the healing of chapped skin if it is used regularly. Cocoa butter is often mistakenly used by people to expedite a suntan and while it will enhance a natural tan, it does not have a sun protection factor (SPF). To prevent the harmful effects of the sun, use a suntan lotion with an SPF of at least 15 that contains cocoa butter.