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Shea Butter vs. Cocoa Butter: Which One Is Better for Your Skin?


Picture this – you're about to check out at your local drugstore, and you just can't decide between a "rejuvenating" shea butter lotion and an "ultra-hydrating" cocoa butter skin lotion. It's a situation that we're all more than familiar with. After all, they both promise exactly what you'd want from a skin treatment, so how can you narrow it down to the best option for your skin in particular? 

Fortunately, we can help you out with that. Here is everything that you need to know about both shea and cocoa butter – from why they're so similar to what makes them different, and what the deciding factor should be when you're ready to cash out!

Table of Contents:

  • The Skin Benefits of Shea Butter
  • The Skin Benefits of Cocoa Butter
  • Shea butter vs. Cocoa butter – Which One Should You Pick?

    The Skin Benefits of Cocoa Butter

    Cocoa butter is a form of fat extracted from the cocoa bean mainly to make chocolate, but it is also used for pharmaceuticals, ointments, and similar products. 

    It owes its many skin benefits to these ingredients in its composition: 

    • Palmitic acid – the most common saturated fatty acid found in animals and plants. It’s also found in the human body, when there is an excess of carbohydrates, which are turned into palmitic acid. It’s used in cosmetic products to release the tension between oil-based and water-based ingredients, get rid of stubborn impurities of the skin, and seal moisture into the skin, acting as a protective layer. 
    • Stearic acid – this is a saturated fatty acid found in both cocoa butter and shea butter. Like palmitic acid, it helps mix water-based and oil-based ingredients, improving the product’s texture. It can soften the skin, creating a barrier between the skin and the outside world, preventing moisture loss. 
    • Oleic acid – this monounsaturated fat has a reputation for lowering the risk of heart diseases and blood pressure. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, regenerates the cells, and it's a powerful nourishing agent. It penetrates the skin easily, getting into the deepest tissues, sealing moisture there, but without clogging pores and causing acne and excess sebum. 

    With all of that in mind, it’s clear that cocoa butter products are an incredibly moisturizing nature’s boon – and a true best friend to people with dry skin. 

    Usually, cocoa butter is used as an immediate treatment for dry-feeling skin, as well as a long-term agent for preventing aging signs, such as wrinkles. WOW’s unique Arabica coffee butter blend brings the added benefit of skin-repairing actions by being rich in antioxidants and vitamin B3 while promoting nourished, healthy skin.

    Pregnant women have also been known to use cocoa butter or other similar products to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. As in the case of many natural “wonder” ingredients, there aren’t many scientific studies to back up the many wonderful properties that many swear by. 

    The Skin Benefits of Shea Butter

    Shea butter is a form of organic fat that comes from the nut of the shea tree, native to Africa. It’s used in cosmetics for its moisturizing benefits, but it is also edible. While sometimes used as a substitute for cocoa butter when preparing certain foods, shea butter is pretty different in flavor – having more of a nutty aroma to it.  

    As always, to understand the benefits of shea butter for our skin, we have to look at its components:

    • Palmitic, oleic, and stearic acid, which we have already talked about when we discussed cocoa butter. 
    • Linoleic acid – this polyunsaturated fatty acid also prevents heart diseases and lowers the risk of high blood pressure. Linoleic acid also strengthens the skin barrier, helping it retain moisture better.
    • Vitamin A – helps regulate sebum production as well as depigmentation and boosts the multiplying of cells, which encourages youthful skin. More than that, vitamin A is a natural moisturizer, speeding up the skin’s self-healing process, directly treating acne scars. 
    • Vitamin E – this vitamin is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Like vitamin A, it improves the immune system and the skin cell's life and overall function, bringing an overall improvement to our skin’s health. Since it’s an antioxidant, it releases oxidative stress (a common aging factor) and contributes to a younger look. 
    • Triglycerides and cetyl esters play an important part in nourishing the skin and help retain moisture better. 

    This is why investing in a natural shea body butter is always a good idea for your revitalized skin goals! Its rich, creamy nature aids in reducing the skin’s dry, papery texture, it heals scars and excessive dryness. More than that, the rich tree-nut oils easily soak into your skin, creating a smooth and silky barrier that seals in that much-needed moisture. 

    Shea butter vs. Cocoa butter – Which One Should You Pick?

    At the end of the day, what is the difference between shea butter and cocoa butter after all? In reality, they are both great for the skin, and there is no clear objective winner, given all of their shared properties. 

    This is why you have to think about what your skin really needs. For instance, shea butter might have some added benefits, like anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds and vitamins. Still, if your skin has a better reaction to cocoa butter, it's best to mix and match them so you can figure out which one works best for you, specifically. 

    Thankfully, the WOW shea&cocoa butter moisturizing lotion offers the best of both worlds through its deeply hydrating formula, allowing you to experience the multitude of benefits that the two natural fats provide in one easy-to-apply product. 

    Slow and Steady Wins the Race

    Always remember that the results you desire might not be noticeable from the first try, so do not get discouraged and keep a consistent skincare routine. 

    Whether you’re team shea or team cocoa (or you’re playing for both sides), remind yourself that nature’s wonder ingredients can only help you out if you work with them, rather than expecting them to do all the heavy lifting for you. Stick to your skincare regimen, and your skin will have its silky glow back in no time!

    Marius Capra

    Charismatic copywriter, intrepid linguist, and advertising aficionado. To make a long story short, writing has always been both my greatest passion, and the one thing that would always bring me comfort - whether it was in the form of short stories, poetry, or academic writing. I love to write because I live to express myself as authentically as I can, and I am a firm believer in the fact that words can always do you justice… if you choose the right ones of course.

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