Shea Butter Vs Cocoa Butter: Which One is Better for Your Skin?

Cocoa Butter
Is cocoa butter better than shea butter?. Mattie Hagedorn/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

After reading my article about shea butter, a friend asked me if shea (pronounced shee) is better for the skin than cocoa butter.   While shea butter seems to have been the popular choice over cocoa butter for a few years, and some people consider it to be superior to cocoa butter, the two butters have nearly the same beneficial fatty acids and antioxidants, though in different proportions.

There are pros and cons.

 The quality of shea butter can depend upon where it is harvested. If you have acne-prone skin, cocoa butter tends to be oilier and could possibly clog the pores.  For a similar reason, shea works better as a hair conditioner, since some users find that cocoa butter can be greasy.  

Others find that cocoa butter has a more pleasant fragrance than shea and also works well as massage oil and as a base for essential oils.

But both shea and cocoa butter have a multitude of skin care benefits, so for the most part it's a matter of choice.  See below for a comparison chart.

 

COCOA BUTTER

 

SHEA BUTTER

 

Origins

 

Extracted from the seeds from the fruit of the cacao tree, native to South and Central America. Also cultivated in West Africa.

 

Extracted from the nut of the karite tree, native to West and Central Africa.

 

 

 

Shelf Life

 

Up to 5 years. A natural preservative. Can help preserve shelf life of cosmetics.

 

1 - 2 years. Will go rancid and lose potency quicker than cocoa butter.

 

 

Absorption

 

Melts at body temperature and quickly absorbs into the skin.

Also melts at body temperature but with slightly better absorption.

 

 

Skin Conditions

 

Dry skin, rashes, dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis.

 

Dry skin, rashes, dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis.

 

 

Skin Type

 

Oily. Could clog pores making it problematic for acne-prone skin.

 

 

All skin types.  Non-comedogenic.

 

 

Allergies

 

Soothes skin allergies. Cocoa beans contain cocoa mass polyphenol, which stops production of immunoglobulin IgE (antibodies found in the skin, lungs, mucous membranes that cause the body to react against certain substances, which worsens eczema and atopic dermatitis).

 

Possible reactions for those with nut allergies.

 

 

 

Skin Benefits

 

Improves skin tone, improves elasticity, promotes collagen production.

 

Also promotes collagen production.

 

 

Skin Healing Benefits

 

Heals and fades scars, chapped lips and skin, promotes healing to damaged skin.

 

 

Heals chapped lips and skin, helps reduce acne scars. Anti-microbial properties to fight off infections. Anti-inflammatory properties from cinnamic acid.

 

 

Skin Protection

 

 

Rich in the antioxidant vitamin E, offering some protection from free radical damage from environmental pollutants. Acts as a barrier on skin and slows water loss due to a high amount of palmitic acid, which is protective and locks in moisture.

 

Vitamin E and A to strengthen and repair the skin. Provides slight UV protection (about SPF 6), due to caffeic acid. Linoleic acid helps seal in moisture.

 

 

Anti-Aging

Helps reduce wrinkles and fade age spots.

 

 

Improves appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, age spots.