Cocoa butter is a vegetable fat extracted from cocoa beans, which grow on the cacao tree, a small (4–8 m) evergreen tree, native to tropics in America.
The tree bears clusters of small pink flowers directly on the trunk and older branches. The fruit, the cacao pod, ripens yellow to orange, weighs 500 g, and contains 20 to 60 seeds. These are rich in fat (40–50%), being the cocoa butter.
It is edible and is used for chocolate making and other products. It is pale-yellow, with a hard consistency, that melts at body temperature. It has a mild chocolate aroma.
Cocoa butter has properties that are useful for natural cosmetics:
It is stable, as it contains natural antioxidants, which prolong its shelf life (up to five years), making it a natural preservative.
It is a natural emollient, which softens and soothes the skin.
It is also moisturising. It can be used as a daily moisturiser and is frequently helpful in the prevention of stretch marks.
It is useful in the treatment of chapped skin and lips.
It also helps to prevent dry, itchy skin.