Chocolate is the food of the gods, and we have cacao beans to thank for its deliciousness. Cacao beans (Theobroma cacao) are the seeds or nuts of the cacao tree, which has been cultivated for at least three millennia in Mesoamerica and the Amazon.
When you hear people talking about cacao, they mean either the cacao nibs, cacao butter, cacao paste or cacao powder. In a nutshell, chocolate is made like this: after fermentation, the cacao beans are dried, cleaned, and roasted. The shell is removed to produce cacao nibs, which are then ground to cocoa mass.
Cacao is known as a superfood powerhouse for its high antioxidant levels, but most people don’t realise our skin can benefit from these antioxidants through topical application as well.
Let’s bust a myth right now: chocolate doesn’t make you break out, either through eating it or applying it to your skin through skincare products, so relax.
The high levels of polyphenol antioxidants in cacao belong to the same group of antioxidants found in green tea and red wine and protect our cells from premature ageing. Amazingly, raw organic cacao has over 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries.
Cacao is now the subject of scientific research into ageing and some encouraging results have been found. Scientists from Seoul National University in Korea tested the ability of cacao in helping prevent wrinkles and found positive results.
In one study, cacao was found to improve the efficiency of genes involved in maintaining hydration and elasticity when skin was exposed to UV rays (chocolate sunscreen anyone?). The Korean studies, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, says cacao may help regulate skin health at a genetic level and significantly reduce wrinkles caused by sun exposure.
Interestingly, the researchers found cacao boosts skin health by increasing blood flow and improving skin density and hydration.
You’ll find chocolate face masks you can make at home using cacao powder if you look online and I recommend giving it a go for something different. All those antioxidants will certainly do wonders for your skin and your lover may even want to lick it off your face.
The Chocolate Mask:
Ingredients: 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, heavy cream
Mix together a heaping tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder with heavy cream to form a paste.
Apply to clean, dry skin and leave the paste on for 15 minutes.
Wipe off mask with washcloth and rinse your face with lukewarm water and pat dry.
The Chocolate Yogurt Honey Mask:
Ingredients: 1 teaspoon cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon yogurt, 1 teaspoon of honey
Blend cocoa powder with honey and yogurt. Cocoa powder can be difficult to blend, so be patient with this step. Keep mixing until mixture looks like melted chocolate.
Clean your face with lukewarm water. Dab dry and then apply the mask evenly on the face except for lip and eye areas. Relax for 15-20 minutes.
Wash off with lukewarm water and dab dry.
The Dark Chocolate Brown Sugar Sea Salt Mask
Ingredients: 2 bars of dark chocolate, 2/3 cup of milk, sea salt, and 3 tablespoons of brown sugar
Heat dark chocolate in a double boiler for about 3 minutes.
Mix sea salt, brown sugar, and 2/3 cup of milk in a bowl.
Remove melted chocolate from heat. Mix melted chocolate with salt/milk mixture.
Allow to cool and apply to face while cool but not hardened.
Leave on until it hardens and wash off with lukewarm water. Add moisturizer.