“It’s time to add cacao to the list of superstar skin care ingredients.”
Cacao is more than just the precursor to chocolate. The raw form of cacao beans (harvested from cacao pods, which come from cacao trees—are you getting all of this?) is packed with vitamins, minerals, and all kinds of other goodness for your complexion. Check out everything you need to know about how cacao powder benefits skin. A sweet skin care treat, indeed.
What’s in cacao that’s so good for your skin?
Topping the list are vitamin C and magnesium; the former is well-known for its antioxidant protection, spot fading, and collagen-boosting properties, the latter is a mineral that generally does great things for your skin. Not only is magnesium anti-inflammatory and can help calm redness (a good option for acne-prone skin, to that point), it also helps your skin function better overall. Plus, cacao also contains omega-6 fatty acids—which are beneficial for your skin both when taken internally and applied topically—making your complexion look and feel plump, dewy, and hydrated. So far, so good.
But it’s really the antioxidant properties of cacao that take the cake. It contains sky-high levels of antioxidants called flavonoids, great for protecting the skin from free radicals. As a quick reminder, free radicals are pesky, skin-damaging molecules formed in your skin from exposure to everything from sun to pollution to stress. They’re no good, so you want all the antioxidant protection you can get. That being said, there’s a unique difference between the kind of antioxidant protection you’ll get from cacao, and the kind you get from other antioxidants. “Studies show that cacao is better than other antioxidants at protecting the skin from blue light,” explain Myriam Fessi, Assistant Technical Manager of Skinsei. And that’s a BIG deal.
But wait, what’s the deal with blue light again?
So glad you asked. Think back to high school science class for a minute, and you’ll remember that there’s both visible and invisible light. The sun’s UV rays (UVA, UVB) fall on the invisible spectrum; blue light falls on the visible spectrum. Blue light also has the shortest wavelength and highest energy—this is why it’s also referred to as HEV, High Energy Visible light. That high energy means it can penetrate deep into the skin, even deeper than the sun’s rays. That’s definitely not what we’d consider good news, especially when you consider where blue light comes from and how often we’re exposed to it. While the sun is the largest source, this is also the light emitted by our phones, computers, tablets, TVs—basically all of our beloved screens that we stare at day in and day out. (Oh, and it’s worth noting that blue light isn’t just bad for your skin. It’s well known that it messes with your body’s natural circadian rhythms, responsible for how and when you sleep…which is why you’re not supposed to fall asleep with the TV on or spend bedtime scrolling through Instagram. It also doesn’t do your eyes any favors.)
So yes, in theory, your skin may be getting damaged as you read this. (But trust us, keep reading!) Like other types of light, blue light also induces oxidative stress and free radicals, and there’s even some evidence to possibly suggest that it can trigger more pigmentation than UV rays can, specifically when it comes to melasma, a condition which causes dark patches to show up across your face, often on the forehead, cheeks, and chin. “There are also some indications that blue light can weaken the skin barrier,” adds Fessi. This isn’t good news either, since a weakened skin barrier can lead to a whole host of issues, ranging from increased dryness to sensitivity to inflammation.
So should I never stare at a screen again?
It’s all a little unnerving, but your best bet is to choose protection over panic. While obviously ditching all of your tech screens isn’t realistic, using sunscreen is. More and more formulations now protect against UVA and UVB rays and blue light. And to bring it back to the topic at hand, this is where cacao benefits come up big time, delivering antioxidant protection that will specifically help protect your skin from blue light. But to this point in general, this is a perfect example as to why it’s so important to look at your entire lifestyle when thinking about skin care. Did you ever think the frequency with which you check your phone might be affecting how your skin looks? And that’s exactly what the Skinsei holistic diagnostic does, taking a broad approach to ultimately figure out what products are going to work best for you.
Where can I find cacao in skin care?In the Skinsei products, cacao is a common ingredient across all of the products, particularly in the moisturizers, and even more so the serums, which have the highest concentration, notes Fessi. (And don’t worry about trying to figure out which serum is right for you, since we’ve got that covered with that diagnostic tool we just mentioned.) Cacao is also a great ingredient to play with if you’re into DIY beauty, since it’s generally not likely to cause any irritation or issues. The key: Seek out raw cacao powder, not the cocoa powder you’d use to bake a chocolate cake. To create the latter, the cacao beans have to be roasted before they’re ground up; the process of heating them up strips much of the nutritional minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants—all of the stuff that you want for your skin. For an easy at-home cacao face mask you can mix up in minutes, combine a tablespoon of raw cacao powder with a ½ tablespoon of a good-for-your skin oil. Jojoba, olive, and avocado oils are top picks if your complexion veers towards dry; hemp oil is ideal if it’s on the oilier side. Mix together to create a paste-like consistency, then apply all over and leave on for 15 minutes. Rinse off to reveal smoother, glowier, skin. If you think this is too much work, do not worry – click here, try our holistic diagnostic tool and let us do the job of figuring out the best products and routine your skin needs.