We use Ghanaian organic cocoa butter. It is an unrefined, pure butter extracted from organically grown cocoa beans. By choosing unrefined and organic, our butter has the most beneficial nutrients in their most unadulterated, purest form.
It is the base for a number of our skin products, and has some awesome benefits. It has a wonderful scent, is a good moisturiser and has a long shelf-life. No need for pesky preservatives :)
The cocoa tree, scientifically known as Theobroma cacao, is an evergreen tree native to the Amazon region, the fruits of which bear the seeds we recognise as the cocoa bean. Around 4,000 years ago, it was domesticated and cultivated by Olmec civilisation and has since been consumed by various cultures on the Yucatan peninsula.
The fruit consists of a pod, which has a rough, almost leathery rind. This is pulped and made into a sweet, lemonade-like drink. Inside the pod there are usually between 30 to 50 cocoa beans. The beans, which are the seeds, are kept to ferment and eventually roasted. After roasting the skins of the beans are removed with a traditional technique called winnowing.
The cocoa industry is using various initiatives to improve the way cocoa is grown. There are a number of incentives to grow cocoa in a sustainable way. Generally speaking there are few chemical fertilizers used in cocoa farming, This may be predominantly the effect of cost, however this is beneficial in the sense that alternatives to these are better for environment and soil as well the produce itself.
Cocoa farmers often employ a land management system known as agroforestry. They plant trees and companion crops, like legumes and plantain, to protect seedlings and improve the ecosystem and soil quality. This provides the necessary shade for the cocoa plants, but also improves the biodiversity of the farmed areas.
Furthermore, this reduces the demands on protected nearby forests for necessities such as firewood, creating further benefits for the ecosystem and biodiversity.
The fatty acid composition of cocoa is dominated by Palmitic and Stearic acid, both saturated fats, and Oleic acid, a mono-unsaturated fat. Besides these three there are smaller and trace amounts of others, including Linolenic (omega 3) and Linoleic (omega 6).
The butter is really stable at room temperature but melts easily at low temperatures, in fact, its melting temperature is around 36 degrees Celcius. Most of the caffeine that is present in cocoa beans is no longer present in the butter.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF COCOA
Cocoa has, of course, a ton of known health benefits. Given that you consume consciously and in moderation, naturally ;) We are, as you might expect, mostly interested in the skin and hair benefits of this versatile bean, and more precisely, its butter.
A wonderful property of this excellent butter is its melting temperature, which is just below human body temperature. This helps it to absorb swiftly into the skin and keep it wonderfully hydrated.
At the same time this butter has superb stability, meaning this butter keeps longer than other, similar butters. The obvious benefit of this is a longer shelf life for products derived from it, reducing the need for preservatives.
One of the things we can do to protect our skins against the effects of ageing is to prevent oxidative stress. As important as oxygen is, it releases free radicals that can cause damage to our cells. By using a body butter high in antioxidants some of these effects can be mitigated, helping your skin to stay in shape.
SOFTENING THE SKIN
Cocoa butter is an effective emollient. This means it helps prevent the loss of water from your skin by promoting the lipid bilayer of your skin cells. This is the natural water barrier of a cell, regulating the rate of evaporation to prevent it from becoming too dry.
In turn, keeping your skin well hydrated can help your skin to feel soft and flexible. It has also been shown that cocoa butter application could be useful to maintain the skin's elasticity and tone. (source)
It is generally speaking always best to store in airtight, sealed containers. You can keep it in the fridge, however this is not necessary and can also make the butter moist, which will make it go off over time. Keep it in a dry, cool place, away from high temperatures and direct sunlight.