Cocoa butter is a popular ingredient in both commercially prepared and homemade health and beauty products. Many hair stylists value the moisturizing and hydrating properties of cocoa butter, as it is a natural emollient. According to author and herbalist Stephanie Rose Bird in her book, "A Healing Grove: African Tree Remedies and Rituals for the Body and Spirit," there are two types of cocoa butter with beauty benefits -- ordinary cocoa butter and black cocoa butter.
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Cocoa butter is produced as a by-product of making chocolate. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cocoa is produced in West Africa. Cocoa butter is the edible fat that is extracted from cocoa beans. According to author Bird, ordinary cocoa butter is processed before the seeds germinate. Black cocoa butter is produced after the cacao pods are allowed to germinate, resulting in a chocolate-colored butter that smells like roasted cocoa.
Cocoa butter is a pure, edible fat. It is all-natural because there are no solvents or additives used during the manufacturing process. Pure cocoa butter resembles margarine and has a slightly yellow pigment. Black cocoa butter has a light coffee color with the same texture as regular cocoa butter. You can purchase cocoa butter online and in drug and health food stores.
Cocoa butter is used in a variety of commercial products and as an alternative to shea butter, as it is not sticky like shea butter. It is added to hair products such as conditioners and creams to provide your hair with extra conditioning, nourishment and shine. Cocoa butter can be used as an effective treatment for fine hair to add moisture without weighing hair down. Cocoa butter makes a beneficial hot-oil treatment for most types of hair. Cocoa butter can be used as a pomade for styling difficult or frizzy hair.
You can apply pure cocoa butter to your hair for use as a pre-shampoo conditioner. Put some cocoa butter in a microwave-safe cup and melt it until it becomes a liquid. Apply this oil to your hair and leave in for no longer than 20 minutes. Follow up with shampoo. To use cocoa butter as a hair pomade, rub a small amount of cocoa butter between your hands and smooth it over your hair.
Pure cocoa butter solidifies when it reaches room temperature. When using cocoa butter as a hot oil hair treatment, don't leave it in for longer than 20 minutes, or the oil will become solid and can be more difficult to wash out.