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If you have dry skin, you probably rely on skincare products enriched with nourishing plant oils and nut butters. Two of the most common butters you’ll find in lotions and creams are shea butter and cocoa butter. Intensely rich and moisturizing, both types of butter can soften, hydrate, and heal dry, dehydrated skin. However, each one has their own set of properties and benefits.
In this article, we’re going to look at the differences between shea butter and cocoa butter, which one may be better for your skin, and the best products you’ll find them in.
You’ll find shea butter in a range of beauty products including moisturizers, body butters, lip balms, hair conditioners, and hair masks. While both butters are excellent ingredients to add to your beauty routine, it’s worth getting familiar with the different properties of each so you can decide which one’s best for you.
Shea butter comes from the nuts of the shea tree, Vitellaria paradoxa, which is native to Central Africa. It’s rich in fatty acids such as oleic acid, stearic acid, linoleic acid, and palmitic acid, which lend their powerful moisturizing properties. Shea butter is also high in vitamin E and vitamin A, giving this butter potent antioxidant properties that can help fight free radicals and support a healthy skin barrier.
Its texture is soft and spreadable, and its fragrance is often described as nutty. In skincare formulas, it’s usually combined with essential oils or fruit extracts to enhance the smell.
Cocoa butter comes from the cocoa bean which grows on the cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao L tree) which is native to the tropical regions of South and Central America.
Cocoa butter consists primarily of saturated fats, such as stearic oleic, and palmitic acid, all of which nourish the skin. It is also high in antioxidants, protecting you from free radical damage — and ultimately preventing the formation of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots. And to top it all of, it boasts anti-inflammatory properties, making it perfect for sensitive skin.
This nut butter is firm, spreadable, and does not melt at room temperature. Its fragrance is similar to chocolate.
Shea butter is a natural emollient with multiple skincare benefits. For starters, it’s an incredible moisturizer.
“Shea butter works as a skin-conditioning agent,” says Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, author of the best-selling book Collagen Diet. “It helps retain moisture by forming a protective barrier on the skin’s surface, which reduces the loss of water and keeps your skin hydrated.”
Research shows that shea butter can also help alleviate the symptoms associated with skin conditions such as eczema and rosacea. This is because it slows down the production of inflammatory cells that contribute to skin irritation.
Since shea butter penetrates the skin quickly, it’s a quick fix for irritated skin. You’ll soon find relief from dryness, itching, red rashes, or sunburn when you apply a shea-infused formula to the affected area.
And finally, the vitamin A and E found in shea butter can help promote skin cell regeneration and boost collagen production, which can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Shea butter is safe for all skin types, including acne-prone skin. Contrary to belief, shea butter won’t clog your pores because the fatty acids mimic the oil your skin produces naturally.
People with nut allergies may experience adverse reactions to shea butter, since it is derived from a nut.
Like shea butter, cocoa butter is a powerhouse skin moisturizer. High in fatty acids, this nourishing nut butter hydrates the skin deeply, which is why you’ll often find it in body lotions and creams.
With its high antioxidant content, cocoa butter helps fight off free radical damage, which can contribute to premature signs of aging like fine lines and discoloration.
There are also claims of cocoa butter’s effectiveness at treating stretch marks. You may have heard of Palmer’s cocoa butter lotions? Well, Palmers is a skincare line entirely devoted to cocoa butter, and it offers many products just for stretch marks.
Unlike shea butter, cocoa butter is comedogenic, which means it can clog pores. Do not apply this to your skin if you’re prone to breakouts.
Cocoa butter and shea butter both offer multiple skincare benefits. From anti-aging benefits to its moisturizing abilities, both are a good addition to your daily skincare routine. That said, it depends on what your skin concerns and goals are.
If you have acne-prone skin, you’d be better off with shea butter as it’s non-comedogenic and won’t leave your skin feeling greasy. Those looking to reduce the appearance of stretch marks would be better suited to cocoa butter, which may help alleviate lines.
Here are some of the best products you’ll find cocoa butter and shea butter in. Some only contain one of these nut butters, while others contain both.
Unicorn Fruit Whipped Body Butter
A deeply conditioning formula of shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, and matcha to soothe and nourish dry, irritated skin while restoring skin’s elasticity.
Coco Cloud After Shave Moisturizer
Contains: Shea Butter
Packed with nourishing natural ingredients like coconut milk, shea butter, and vanilla to diminish dryness, soothe irritation, and quell symptoms associated with skin conditions like dermatitis. It’s also a perfect after-shave hydrator for soothing shave-related inflammation.
Acai Your Boobies Butter
A boob firming formula designed to smooth skin and nips and reverse sagging. It also helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and stretch marks on the chest for an extra perky pair!
Buns of Glowy Butt Butter
A luxurious velvety cream enriched with shea butter, watermelon, wheat protein, and cocoa butter for your smoothest, bounciest booty. Also addressed stretch marks and cellulite!
If you plan on using one of these butters in their natural form, always choose unrefined shea butter and unrefined cocoa butter to reap the most benefits from these skin-loving ingredients!