Cacao is one of the most popular and oldest foods in the world. Dating as far back as 1,400 BCE, people have been eating and using cacao in their everyday lives ever since, sometimes without even realizing it. While your first thought about raw cacao may be to eat it, you can also use it on your body to lock in moisture, treat small wounds and more.
Raw cacao’s health benefits
Raw cacao boasts a wealth of antioxidants that can improve heart and vein health as well as reduce blood pressure. It may also help support renal health, improve your mood and even help get you in “the mood.” In addition to high levels of magnesium, raw cacao also contains manganese, zinc, potassium, calcium and high levels of vitamin C. In its raw state, it truly is a superfood.
When purchasing your raw cacao at the health food store, be sure you’re not confusing it with cocoa. Cocoa is cacao that has been roasted at high temperatures. Although it is delicious, cocoa has fewer antioxidants and nutrients due to the heating process. Raw cacao butter is generally better than cocoa butter, too. Since raw cacao butter is cold-pressed, it retains all the health benefits that are lost in production to create it.
Here are seven of my favorite ways to use raw cacao besides eating it.
1. Use raw cacao in your moisturizer
Raw cacao butter may help prevent stretch marks created by pregnancy or quick weight changes. Simply rub it directly on your skin to keep the area moisturized, allowing it to stretch easier as your body changes.
You can also add raw cacao powder to your homemade moisturizer to slow the aging process and reduce inflammation. Try the following recipe for a luxurious whipped moisturizer.
- 1 part raw cacao powder
- 1 part rosehip or jojoba oil
- 1 part shea butter
- Your favorite essential oil (optional)
- Using the double broiler method, gently melt the shea butter over medium-low heat.
- Once liquefied, remove the shea butter from heat and add the cacao powder.
- Stir until dissolved and the liquid is dark brown.
- Slowly add the rosehip or jojoba oil, stirring gently.
- Move the pot to a cold-water bath without getting water in the mixture.
- Gently whip it until it cools. You will notice it has a whipped texture.
- Add any essential oil you may be using. (I recommend geranium for the face.)
- Whip further until you see peaks and valleys in your mixture.
- Pour into and store in a dark glass container.
2. Prevent peeling after a sunburn
Use raw cacao butter in combination with jojoba oil to prevent skin peeling after spending too much time out in the sun. The natural hydrating power of the oil will help lock moisture into the skin, which could prevent it from drying out and peeling after a sunburn.
3. Treat eczema and rashes
Add tea tree oil or aloe vera gel to raw cacao butter to treat severe skin conditions, including eczema and rashes. The gentle oil will moisturize your skin without causing any further irritation.
4. Treat fever blisters
If you frequently have fever blisters on your lips, cacao butter can help keep them from cracking. Simply rub a bit on the affected area and enjoy the moisturizing relief. Plus, it’s completely edible, so you don’t have to worry about complications if you accidentally lick it.
5. Make a cacao nibs sugar scrub
Talk about delicious! Instead of making a coffee and sugar scrub, substitute coarsely-ground cacao nibs for the coffee. Simply pulse the nibs in a blender until you reach your desired consistency and add equal parts cacao nibs and sugar to your favorite oil. Use in your bath or shower for beautiful, exfoliated skin without any chemicals.
6. Use cacao powder as a bronzer
While this may not work well for all skin types, the next time you need a little more color to your face, try using raw cacao powder as a bronzer. Apply with a clean makeup brush and layer as needed to get your desired look.
7. Make a face mask
If you have oily skin, try a raw cacao face mask to keep oil under control. Use the following recipe to make your own cacao and honey face mask.
- 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
- A pinch of cinnamon
- 1 tbsp honey
- Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir.
- Once you make a paste (thin it with a little more honey as needed), apply it to your face and neck.
- Leave the face mask on for up to 20 minutes before washing off.
The antibacterial properties in honey will also help clear up any acne you may have. Use this face mask once or twice a week for continued healing.
The above ideas are just a sampling of what you can do with raw cacao products. Don’t be afraid to get in your kitchen and experiment with more DIY recipes. What’s your favorite way to use raw cacao? Let us know in the comments below!