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Cocoa in cosmetics

Smelling the enticing scent of success, many brands have launched their own “chocolate” range. Whether a beauty treatment or sweet treat, cocoa continues to seduce our senses.

Cocoa in cosmetics
© Thinkstock

Just talking about it makes your senses buzz and tempts your tastebuds! Chocolate is a taste sensation - a sin - that many of us love to relish.

But you may not know that cocoa was originally used for body care. Aztecs knew how to make the most of chocolate's “raw material” for their beauty rituals.

So, how can you benefit from cocoa's cosmetic properties these days? No need to throw yourself into Charlie’s chocolate river! To savour the benefits of cocoa, a few beauty treatments will do the trick.

Cocoa: star of the cosmetic world

Long blamed for adding pounds to our waistlines or causing acne, today chocolate is taking its revenge.  A veritable golden nugget for cosmetics, the cocoa bean boasts many properties. Anti-aging, anti-cellulite, relaxing... cocoa could have been the star if chocolate hadn’t upstaged it.

“Cocoa is the raw material for beauty treatments," explains Dr. Bulidon, nutritionist at Royan thalassotherapy centre in the Gironde region of France. “We talk of chocolate treatments (rather than cocoa) because chocolate’s power on the imagination is much stronger, more enticing,” he admits.

This opinion is shared by James Frerebau, co-founder of the brand Sensation Chocolat. “Chocolate is first and foremost about marketing, as chocolate itself doesn’t bring anything to skin in terms of cosmetic properties," he explains. “It’s the richness of the cocoa that is beneficial to our skin”.

Cocoa’s age-old properties

Let’s take a quick look at these properties - that even 1,500 years BC - Aztecs were already using for their beauty rituals.

Cocoa is has good anti-aging properties. Extremely rich in polyphenols, “it contains 50 times more than grape seeds, which are already considered as a major heavyweight in the polyphenol world,” explains James Frerebau.

Dr. Bulidon continues, "Cocoa is a highly powerful antioxidant against free radicals and therefore has an indirect effect on cellular aging”.

In addition to slowing down the appearance of the first signs of aging, cocoa may also have an effect on our figure and especially on cellulite. "Caffeine is found within the cocoa bean shell which tones skin tissues and slows down the effects of distending skin ”, explains Frerebau.

More than a simple marketing ploy, chocolate (read cocoa) treatments are winning growing success with their anti-aging and anti-cellulite properties, not to mention their relaxing and delicious qualities.

Cocoa's relaxing power

Cocoa contains serotonin and endorphins which have a soothing effect “beneficial against stress”, explains Dr. Bulidon. Not forgetting “magnesium and vitamin B1 which equally have this soothing effect”. Who has never felt that immense pleasure and feeling of relaxation after biting into a square of chocolate? Well, imagine the pleasure of slipping into a cocoa wrap smelling of sweet, delicious chocolate...

Applying a chocolate face mask, using a chocolate scrub or wrap apparently enhances our beauty but also plays a role in our wellbeing. According to James Frerebau however, “cocoa butter has to be one of the three main ingredients, otherwise it’s not worth it... I advise women to buy natural skincare products, not necessarily organic. If you pay attention to avoiding preservatives such as methylparabens and propylparabens, buying organic is not a necessity". 

And as for allergy risks or acne, Dr. Bulidon and James Frerebau are unanimous: “Cocoa has no allergy risks, even when applied to skin. And no study has confirmed the role of chocolate in the emergence of acne,” explains nutritionist Dr. Bulidon.

Don't be mistaken however, "While chocolate-based skincare has an undeniable effect on our pleasure and relaxation levels and provides a moment of enjoyment and tranquillity, these beauty products are not as effective (for skin beauty) as a piece of real chocolate”. So doctor, what’s the daily chocolate dose to keep good-humoured, have beautiful skin and make the most of cocoa’s properties? “30 grams of dark chocolate a day”, assures Dr. Bulidon.

Don't resist temptation any longer!

Many spas and beauty treatment centres offer chocolate body wraps, massages and skin or hair masks, so do check them out the next time you are thinking of pampering yourself. In the meantime, here are some of our favourite cocoa beauty products:

Many thanks to Dr. Bulidon, nutritionist at Royan thalassotherapy centre and James Frerebau, co-founder of Sensation Chocolat

Posted 22.10.2010

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