Cocoa butter or shea butter: What’s better for dry skin?

Cocoa and shea butter are both great moisturisers. But should you use cocoa butter or shea butter for dry skin?
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Shea butter and cocoa butter are good for making skin soft. Image courtesy: Freepik
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 23 Mar 2024, 13:30 pm IST
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If you have dry skin, body butter must be your best friend. It is a moisturiser that uses fats to make skin soft and smooth. There are different types of body butters. Shea butter and cocoa butter are among the most popular. These are both deep-acting moisturisers that work as a protective barrier against harsh external elements. But does your skin need shea butter or cocoa butter? Do you really need to pick one or can you mix both the butters to get softer skin? Find out if you should pick shea butter or cocoa butter for dry skin.

What is cocoa butter?

Cocoa butter is a fat extracted from cocoa beans, the same ones used to produce chocolate. It is well-known for its strong hydrating characteristics and is frequently used in skin care products. It is also beneficial to skin health since fat acts as a barrier, keeping skin moisturised, says dermatologist Dr Rishabh Raj Sharma.

Pieces of cocoa butter on wooden table
Cocoa butter has strong hydrating characteristics. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

What is shea butter?

Shea butter is produced from the nuts of the shea tree and is extremely hydrating. It reduces stretch marks, wrinkles, and hair fall while also benefiting hair-related disorders such as itching and dryness. According to a 2009 study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, shea butter may be better at reducing symptoms of eczema than petroleum products.

What are the differences between shea butter and cocoa butter?

Shea butter and cocoa butter are both natural fats derived from plant sources, but there are differences.

1. Origins

For shea butter, the nuts of the African shea tree, Vitellaria paradoxa or Butyrospermum parkii, are used to extract shea butter from the African tree. While for cocoa butter, seeds from the pods of cocoa treat Theobroma cacao are used to extract cocoa butter.

2. Properties

Shea butter solidifies at room temperature and has a creamy texture. It immediately absorbs and melts when it comes into touch with skin, leaving the skin feeling non-greasy. Cocoa butter remains solid at normal temperature and has a harder texture than shea butter. When applied to the skin, it melts quickly and has a velvety, smooth consistency.

3. Composition

Stearic acid, linoleic acid, and oleic acid are among the fatty acids that are highly concentrated in shea butter. It also has vitamins A and E and other healthy substances including triterpenes and catechins.

Saturated fatty acids, especially stearic and palmitic acids, are abundant in cocoa butter. Oleic acid and other unsaturated fatty acids are also present. Also, polyphenols and vitamin E, two naturally occurring antioxidants, are found in cocoa butter.

4. Fragrance

The scent of shea butter is delicate and nutty. However, because of the standard extraction techniques used, unrefined shea butter could smell a little smoky and connected to nature.

The natural ingredients found in cocoa beans give cocoa butter a distinctive aroma, which is a supplement of chocolate. The degree of refinement affects how strong this scent is.

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Shea butter in a bowl
Shea butter helps repair skin. Image courtesy: Freepik

5. Benefits

Shea butter relieves several skin ailments, including psoriasis and eczema, and hydrates the skin. It contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities that help repair skin and guard against sunburns and UV damage, says Dr Sharma.

Due to its emollient qualities, cocoa butter helps to smooth and soften skin. It is frequently included in skin care products to hydrate dry skin.

Is shea butter better than cocoa butter for dry skin?

Shea butter’s greater fatty acid content may make it slightly better for dry skin. However, both are wonderful options for dry skin, says the expert. In fact, cocoa and shea butter can be combined to make a rich moisturiser with the benefits of both ingredients.

To incorporate them into your skin care routine, go for products like body butter containing shea butter and cocoa butter.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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