There’s some great info here about cocoa and Shea butters – both wonderful ingredients! Try Blue Mountain Soapworks’ Spectacular Shea Butter soap. It’s completely fragrance free and makes your skin feel wonderfully soft, smooth and NOT dry!

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Cocoa Or Shea Butter? What's The Difference?

Renee Vailes

Cocoa and Shea butter are two of the best emollients around.  If you suffer from dry skin, like so many seem to do, you can’t go wrong with either one!  Moisture is moisture, I say, so how do you choose?  To make an educated decision, you have to look at the qualities of both and decide for yourself.  Some companies even combine the two in a lotion or body wash, for the best of both worlds.  In my estimation, the two are interchangeable and equally moisturizing.  I have made lotions from both, choosing the Shea butter for myself… but we shall get to that later.

Spectacular Shea Butter Soap

Skin conditioning is of utmost priority for me.  I suffer from some of the worst dry skin in the winter, even suffering from it in the summer, especially as I get ‘older.’   Most people are open to using anything that will moisturize and keep them looking young.  I know from experience that both cocoa and Shea butter are listed in many lotions and body washes.  I like to couple them in body wash with any oatmeal type ingredient. 

In the past, I have bought every kind of moisturizing butter available and in every scent imaginable:  mango, grapefruit, lime and coconut, banana, apple pie, etc.  Obviously the scent has nothing whatsoever to do with its ability to soften your skin.  The moisturizing elements within the body lotion or body butter are your key to longer lasting beauty and youthfulness.

I am going to outline here the history and uses of both cocoa and Shea butter.  You can decide for yourself


Cocoa butter is the natural fat extracted from the cacao bean from South America and West Africa.  It has to be grown around the equator; no other location will do. Cocoa butter is used to make toiletries, skin care products, cocoa powder and chocolate. Cocoa butter has a delicious subdued chocolate odor, and has natural antioxidants that prevent products containing it from going bad, thus increasing their shelf life for up to two years. It is a favorite in the production of soaps, cosmetics and skincare products. Its emollient properties and its smooth texture make it a perfect ingredient for body butter and lotions.  Cocoa butter has been around for centuries. Known as the ‘ultimate moisturizer,’ cocoa butter absorbs into the skin with ease due to its body temperature melting point.

Cocoa ButterThe cocoa butter creates a shield against the environment, and it is very helpful in the alleviating of psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis. It works by holding back the production of immunoglobulin which is known to aggravate and accelerate the above mentioned conditions.

This butter will soothe the skin, relieve stress, and help you relax.  It is useful for pregnant women, when used in regular applications, as a formula to help prevent, and ward off stretch marks. The butter has a very nice smell also. It has been said that cocoa butter may also help to ease arthritis and even help to prevent heart disease. Wonderful claims I must say. I really had no idea just how good this butter was for my skin and body. I just enjoyed using it.


The benefits of Shea Butter have been enjoyed for centuries. Women in Africa have been using Shea butter to smooth their skin and hair far longer than their Western counterparts.  Shea butter has tremendous benefits for hair and skin. It comes from the tropics of Africa from the nut of the Karite tree, where the fatty acids are extracted from the the nut container. The quality of the irremovable fatty acid is far more superior to that of the cocoa butter, but unfortunately it can take up to thirty years for a crop to yield the right quality of this fatty acid. It’s a wonder they can actually bring it to us at a reasonable price bearing all this in mind.  The women of Africa call it ‘women’s gold’ as many on the continent depend on it for their livelihoods.

Shea butter is known especially for its cosmetic properties as a moisturizer and emollient. It is also a known anti-inflammatory agent, although we make no medical claims here! :-) Shea butter is reported by many as being effective at treating the following conditions: fading scars, eczema, burns, rashes, acne, severely dry skin, blemishes, dark spots, skin discolorations, chapped lips, stretchmarks, wrinkles, and in lessening the irritation of psoriasis.

Raw shea butter and nutsShea butter provides natural ultraviolet sun protection, although the level of protection is extremely variable, ranging from none at all to approximately SPF 6. Shea butter absorbs rapidly into the skin without leaving a greasy feeling.  Africans have been enjoying the natural properties of Shea butter for centuries, and they have used it on their hair as a conditioner, and also on their skin for protection against the sun, and the harsh elements of their climate.

Shea butter is a luxurious moisturizer, which leaves the skin feeling silky soft. It works by stimulating the skin’s renewal process, thus revealing a more youthful, fresh skin. It is non greasy, and it is used in many expensive skin products. It is also a wonderful, natural conditioner that makes the hair vibrant, while also protecting it from dryness and preventing split ends. It is also the base of many essential oils.  Shea butter works by maintaining the natural oils in our skin, and it can also activate collagen production.


To wrap up our discussion, I have to say, given the info here, I must profess a penchant, a fondness for shea butter.  Given its natural SPF, healing qualities and richness of moisture, it seems only natural to choose it over cocoa butter.  Both leave you feeling silky soft… and while both are superior moisturizers and healing agents (again no medical claims here!), one can’t go wrong with Shea butter!

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date14 Aug