Okay—first of all, I am all for having a couple squares of dark chocolate as a healthy treat after dinner. Dark chocolate (70% or more cacao) is rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory flavonoids, which boosts your heart health and possibly your mood. However, did you know that chocolate can also be included as part of your beauty routine? The antioxidants and flavonoids that make dark chocolate good for your heart also improve circulation to your skin and tightens pores. The antioxidants in powder made from the chocolate plant help to neutralize free radicals and also sooths red, dry, and flaking skin. Plus, some research indicates that smelling chocolate can reduce cravings of eating it. The trick is to choose the powder that is most rich in theses beneficial ingredients.
What’s the difference between cacao and cocoa powder?
Raw cacao powder is made by cold-pressing the unroasted beanlike seeds of the cacao plant. These seeds are roasted and refined to make cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and the chocolate candy we love. As is with most foods, the less refined a product, the better the nutrients. Cacao is chocolate in its original state. Raw, organic cacao powder is always my first choice for baking and beauty alike.
How to feed your face with chocolate: You can make endless variations of chocolate masks to match your skin’s needs from day to day. Below you’ll find a recipe for dry skin, a variation for oiler days, and then different additions you can use for different results. All of these smell chocolatey and amazing, and I like using these masks for that reason alone, but remember they aren’t for eating. Choose the one that will meet your needs.
- For days when your skin feels dry: In a small bowl, mix together one heaping tablespoon of raw, organic, and pure cacao powder with a couple of teaspoons of coconut oil and a tablespoon of plain whole-fat yogurt—form a paste. Apply the mask to your skin and let sit for 15 minutes. It’s this drying process that will pull impurities from your skin. Wipe off gently with a washcloth, and rinse your face with warm water. Pat dry.
- For days when your skin feels oily: Omit the coconut oil and just mix the cacao powder with the yogurt. Leave on for 15 minutes and then wash with your normal cleanser and pat dry.
- Try adding a teaspoon or two of any of the following to address various skin issues (see below):
- Bentonite clay: Swap out 1 tablespoon of the cacao powder for the clay. This is good for acne.
- Argan oil: To reduce fine lines and wrinkles, you can use this in place of half of the yogurt or coconut oil.
- Green tea: Helps to detox skin that has been exposed to smog or smoke. With this one, you may need to add a bit more cacao powder and reduce the yogurt.