Both shea butter and cocoa butter are popularly used and recognized in the cosmetics and skin care world as heavy-weight champions, containing unparalleled nutritional qualities and benefits for the skin, hair and nails. But what if you had to choose only one? Which one would you pick – shea butter or cocoa butter? This article will break it down and make it easier for you to make the choice!
What is Shea Butter and How is it Made?
Shea butter is a natural nut butter extracted from the hard seeds of the African Karite tree, which is native to Central and Western Africa. The process of extraction, in simple terms, involves the harvest and collection of shea nuts. After the nuts are collected and cleaned for any surface impurities, they are boiled in order to soften the hard outer cover. Once the shells are softened, the nuts are left to cool and then pried open to reveal the fatty interior. The fatty portion is scooped out and is further boiled to separate the butter from any impurities like bits of the shell and other fibrous material. Once this stage is complete, soft shea butter is ready to be filtered and packed off to be sold as 100% pure raw shea butter. From here, it may be subjected to further processing and refinement to be used in lotions, creams and other cosmetic products.
What is Cocoa Butter and How is it Made?
Cocoa butter is also a natural plant-based butter extracted from the cocoa bean, yes the very same cocoa bean from which CHOCOLATE is made! Processing of the cocoa bean is slightly more complicated than the shea nut and the method is known as “the broma process”. In simple terms, after the cocoa bean is harvested, washed and air dried, it is roasted at an even temperature until the nut begins to crack open. From here the cocoa nibs are removed from the opened beans and are grinded to make a cocoa liquor, a rich chocolatey liquid. The cocoa butter is extracted from this cocoa liquor by using an extrusion device or a screw press.
Differences & Similarities between Shea Butter and Cocoa Butter
COLOR: Raw shea butter comes in varying shades of ivory/beige to yellow and refined shea butter is white. Raw Cocoa butter is light yellow and the refined version is white.
SCENT: Shea butter has a distinct nutty aroma while cocoa butter has a mild unmistakable aroma of chocolate.
STATE: Both shea butter and cocoa butter are solid at room temperature and melt at body temperature.
NUTRITIONAL PROFILE: Both contain potent vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
SKIN BENEFITS: Both shea butter and cocoa butter are wonderful emollients which are great at moisturizing skin, stimulating collagen production and having anti-wrinkle properties, healing damaged skin, blemishes and stretchmarks, softening dry chapped skin and providing anti-inflammatory benefits.
SKIN CONDITIONS: Both shea and cocoa butters are used to treat and manage skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis.
Specialities of Shea Butter versus Cocoa Butter
SUN PROTECTION: Shea butter offers SPF protection of around 5, while cocoa butter does not offer sun protection. This makes shea butter great for before and after sun care.
VITAMIN DISTRIBUTION: Shea is rich in Vitamins A, E and F while cocoa butter is rich in Vitamins E and K. This makes shea a skin protector which rejuvenates skin, prevents aging and penetrates and deeply moisturizes skin while cocoa butter is also a powerful moisturizer that offers help for bruises and dark under eye circles.
COMEDOGENIC PROPERTIES: Cocoa butter is high on the comedogenic scale, meaning it has a high potential to clog skin pores. This makes it a no-no for those already suffering with acne and frequent pimples. Shea butter is not that comedogenic, in fact it has a comedogenic rating of ZERO.
SPECIAL ANTIOXIDANTS: Cocoa butter is rich in plant sterols like B-sitosterol and Stigmasterol , which prevent cancer, as well as polyphenols which are anti-cancerous and hinder production of immonuglobins which reduces the chance of flare-ups of psoriasis and dermatitis. Shea butter is rich in allantoin which protects from premature aging.
HEALING FRACTION: Shea butter has an exceptionally high fraction of 5 – 17%, compared to other seed oils which have low healing fractions.
BOTH shea butter and cocoa butter are exceptional emollients which have a lot to offer for beautiful skin and hair. You can experiment with both and see which is best for you.
HOWEVER, if you have acne-prone skin, it’s best you stay away from COCOA BUTTER.
If you love the smell of chocolate, do go for COCOA BUTTER, which will scent your skin with the mild intoxicating smell of chocolate.