Here’s some surprising news: Chocolate is good for your skin! Many of us grew up with the concept that chocolate causes blemishes. Instead, scientists now have discovered that chocolate can contain more antioxidants per cup than red wine or green tea. In fact, certain compounds in chocolate even help smooth the skin and decrease its sensitivity to the sun.
Chocolate is good for your skin because of its high content of cocoa butter, which is a natural skin softener and conditioner. It is also an antioxidant, which means it prevents free radical damage to your skin and protects its natural elasticity. To receive the full benefit, choose commercial products or recipes with chocolate, cocoa and cocoa butter as the main ingredients. Also, dark chocolate seems to be much more effective than milk chocolate or white chocolate (which many argue is not really chocolate). Chocolate is considered dark if it contains at least 35 percent cocoa.
In skin care, chocolate, cocoa and cocoa butter are all excellent moisturizers. Chocolate also contains caffeine which can stimulate your circulation and give your skin a healthy glow when used in a massage cream or body scrub. The scent of chocolate releases serotonin, the same hormone that we experience when falling in love and for many people promotes happy feelings and reduces stress. So next time you have a craving for something sweet, enjoy a bit of chocolate with the bonus of better skin and a better mood. Here are some cocoa-based recipes to create at home.
Chocolate Spa Treatments
• Mocha Facial Mask
• Chocolate Walnut Body Polish
• Chocolate Lip Balm
• Hot Cocoa Bath
• Cocoa Butter Cuticle Cream
• Cocoa Mint Foot Scrub
• Chocolate Massage Butter
Chocolate from the Ground Up
Chocolate is made from the seeds of the cacao tree. This tree is native to Central America and Mexico and dates back to 1100 B.C. The Mesoamerican people used the seeds to make beverages. The seeds are dried, cleaned and roasted to produce cacao nibs, which are ground and processed into two different substances: cocoa and cocoa butter. Chocolate as we know it combines these two components, along with other ingredients such as sugar, milk, and sometimes herbs and spices.
Janice Cox is the author of Natural Beauty at Home, Natural Beauty for All Seasons and Natural Beauty from the Garden, all published by Henry Holt and Company (New York). For more recipes and ideas, visit her at www.HerbCompanion.com/Contributors