DIY Lab: The benefits of cacao in skincare
Chocolate, cocoa and cacao. “What’s the difference?” you might ask. If you’re unsure what the difference is between the three, you’re not alone. In the world of chocolate, these terms often get confused and misused. You’re most likely no stranger to chocolate, however the difference between cocoa and cacao typically needs clarification. Once we do that, we can talk about cacao’s amazing benefits for the skin.
So What’s The Difference Between Chocolate, Cacao & Cocoa
Here’s the simplest way to explain it. Cacao is the raw form of cacao beans. Cacao trees produce cacao pods; inside the pods are the beans. How those beans are harvested and dried determines whether it is cacao or cocoa. Cacao is the raw form of cacao beans. When they are roasted and ground, they become cocoa. Both cocoa and cacao are used in the production of chocolate.
Cacao beans that are dried and chopped are called cacao nibs. Raw cacao has a slightly bitter taste, but it is loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, including beta-carotene, iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium and vitamins E and B complex. Now when you roast cacao beans at high temperatures and press them to remove the fat, cocoa powder is produced. The taste is similar to cacao, however the during the heating process, most of the nutritional and antioxidant benefits are lost. Do you have all that?
The Secret to Using Cacao in Skincare
So now you understand why cacao is used instead of cocoa in your favorite skincare products–it maintains all of those powerful antioxidants that are wonderful for enriching your skin with the nutrients it needs. Here are a few more reasons why you might want to consider products or at-home treatments using cacao:
- It’s rich in antioxidants called flavenoids, which block harmful free radials, protecting your skin and smoothing fine lines.
- The omega-6 fatty acids promote cellular healing, provide hydration, give skin that plump, dewy appearance and can help heal scars.
- The vitamin C and magnesium content protect your skin.
- Cacao, like coffee, promotes blood flow to the skin, which promotes that healthy glow.
- It protects skin from harmful UV rays, which is key for maintaining the appearance of youthful skin.
- It has potent anti-inflammatory properties, which can soothe redness and diminish the appearance of blemishes.
Exfoliating Cacao Mask
1 tablespoon raw cacao (finely ground)
1/2 tablespoon oil (jojoba, olive or avocado for dry skin; hemp seed oil for oily skin, argan oil for mature skin)
Combine both ingredients and apply to skin for 15 minutes. With damp fingertips gently exfoliate with circular motions; rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry.
This mask will leave your skin smooth and glowing, but for a more purifying treatment, add a touch of water and one teaspoon of your favorite clay, such as moroccan red clay for mature skin; french green clay for oily skin, white kaolin clay for sensitive skin; and bentonite clay for those suffering from acne.
So the next time you see cacao in the ingredients list of your favorite mask, you’ll know how truly beneficial it is to the potency of your product and the health of your skin.