Many women are concerned about stretch marks that can result after a baby is born. These marks can differ from woman-to-woman but are generally long narrow streaks on the surface of the lower abdomen. They can vary in colour from white to red, to brown, depending on your skin colour. While around 50% of women can suffer stretch marks during and after pregnancy, there can be other conditions that lead to stretch marks too.
Often the simplest solution is to moisturize them, which naturally reduces their appearance. Cocoa butter is both natural and easy to find in shops. It possesses softening, moisturizing, and healing properties to reduce the appearance of stretch marks, no matter the reason you got them in the first place.
What Are Stretch Marks… Are They a Concern?
Stretch marks can affect both men and women, and can occur on more than just the abdomen. Besides pregnancy, they can also be caused during rapid growth during puberty, or from a rapid weight loss when on a diet.
When related to growth spurts or weight loss, they can appear on the thighs, hips, upper arms, buttocks, and lower back. There can also be certain medical conditions that cause them, and prolonged use of certain prescription medications.
Stretch marks appear on the surface of the skin when it has been stretched too quickly. It’s the skin’s natural way to adapt to the growth. But the skin can grow too quickly, which tears the skin in the middle layer.
Skin is made up of three major layers. The stretch marks will form on the dermis or middle layer and affect the upper layer. This is why they take a long time to disappear, unlike a simple cut or scrape on the skin that only affects the epidermis (upper layer).
Stretch marks can slowly form, so at first, you give them little concern. Your skin may feel tight, dry, and itchy. While they do eventually fade away, like some scars they can take years to disappear. They usually turn a silvery colour over time.
While it’s not a medical concern that will harm you, it’s unsightliness can be a cause for concern. To the extreme end, a person can undergo laser treatment or surgery to remove them. There are also expensive prescription creams you can buy which can help to decrease their appearance.
Do I Need to Do Anything for My Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks can lead to great anxiety for some people, despite being covered up with clothing most of the day. Many women worry about them, and will either try to prevent them during a pregnancy, and to treat them after their child has been born.
For others, they are of little concern and some people will do nothing. But with future pregnancies, stretch marks can worsen.
Using a cream, such as cocoa butter, is a simple treatment, and your skin can benefit from daily moisturizing anyway.
What is Cocoa Butter?
Cocoa butter is exactly what you think it is—an oil made from cocoa beans, the same ones made into chocolate. It’s also known as theobroma oil. Theobroma is one of the beneficial chemicals contained within the cocoa bean, which is why we feel good after eating chocolate.
Cocoa butter is an edible vegetable fat that is extracted from the cocoa bean. If you collected it together in a dish, it would resemble a pale yellow colour. Its natural state is in solid form, like coconut oil is. It too has a lower melting point, so it nicely dissolves on the skin and absorbs well—much better than coconut oil which can be greasy.
Cocoa butter is commonly used in the beauty, toiletries, and pharmaceutical industries. Often cocoa butter is found on the Pharmaceutical/First Aid shelf of a pharmacy with the Witch Hazel, Aloe Vera Gel, and Hydrogen Peroxide, and also in the vegetable oil aisle.
Creams and lotions containing cocoa butter will be found in the skincare section of a store.
Since cocoa butter is edible, it is 100% safe to use on the surface of the skin. You can use it on every part of your body. You probably don’t want to get it around eyes, but if you do, it can easily be wiped off with a cloth.
Cocoa butter also has a pleasant cocoa butter smell which is pleasant for most people. It’s often made into soaps and lotions, and is a popular ingredient in skincare products today. Many people choose it over some of the other oils in treating stretch marks because they prefer its smell.
Is Cocoa Butter Effective on All Types of Stretch Marks?
Cocoa butter can work on all types of stretch marks, not just those obtained during pregnancy. It’s helpful to use the cream to moisturize skin to prevent stretch marks during weight loss programs. It can be used to soften and decrease stretch marks as we age. If you’re uncertain where you may get stretch marks, it works as a moisturizer and preventative all over the body.
You can purchase one container of cocoa butter for your stretch marks and soon find many other uses for it in beauty care.
How Are Cocoa Beans Made Into Cocoa Butter?
The whole cocoa beans are picked fresh, then the beans undergo a process of fermentation, then roasting, that separates the beans from the hulls. During this process, the cocoa butter residue floats on top and is collected. This process may also involve other collection methods to extract the cocoa to make chocolate or other related products. Basically, nothing is wasted in the production of cocoa products.
Once the butter has been extracted, The butter then undergoes a process to remove impurities.
The cocoa butter is then placed into a container, labelled, and shipped to shops. It can also be made into lotions and creams. Be sure to read labels. Some may contain other beneficial ingredients to help reduce stretch marks, while others are merely fillers. Some people are concerned about filler ingredients that serve no purpose in skincare products.
Can Cocoa Butter Soften the Appearance of Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks can be considered scars, but not one caused by a cut or abrasion. Some physicians call them disfiguring lesions, but medically they are called striae, striae distensae (SD), and other lesions that are straight and long in appearance.
Cocoa butter can be used in one many ways to reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
- Cocoa butter can be used prior to their development. Pregnant women can start in month one of their pregnancy by rubbing cocoa butter into their abdomens. This process can be repeated daily, until baby’s birth, and then over the next several weeks as their body resumes its normal appearance.
- It can be used after pregnancy to reduce the appearance of stretch marks as the skin is shrinking back into its normal shape.
- It can be used during a weight loss program.
- It’s effective for teenager’s growth spurts.
The cocoa butter will soften and moisturize the skin, which has the natural effect of decreasing the stretch marks’ appearance.
Cocoa butter also contains 6 major fatty acids—including linoleic and stearic—which provide sloughing and moisturizing properties. Over time, these help speed up healing, which is a necessary step in the reduction of wrinkles. Cocoa butter also contains antioxidants, which provide a double dose of beneficial properties to the skin.
How Can I Apply Cocoa Butter to Reduce the Appearance of Stretch Marks?
Pregnant women can start in month one of their pregnancy by rubbing cocoa butter into their abdomens. This process can be repeated daily, until birth day, and then over the next several weeks as their body resumes its normal appearance. Once the baby has been born, the cocoa butter should continue to be used.
Use about 10 ml of cocoa butter up to three times a day, or more if you remember. Rub it into your body regions of concern. While the butter washes nicely out of most sheets, towels, and clothes, you may wish to avoid wearing your good silk blouse that day as silk can absorb the greas and look unsightly.
Cocoa butter can be used as a moisturizer all over the body, from face, neck, body, arms, and legs. It not only works to reduce stretch marks if you’re undergoing a weight loss and exercise plan, but can help make you feel better after a workout by giving yourself a massage with the cocoa butter afterwards.
How Long Does Cocoa Butter Take to Work?
It’s important to use cocoa butter on your skin as soon as you know that you could have a stretch mark problem because that can affect your treatment times. For instance, pregnant women should start using it now. People undergoing a weight loss program can begin using it now. When using as a preventative, stretch marks should be significantly reduced by baby’s birth, or when you have completed your weight loss goal.
If you already have unsightly stretch marks, it will be less effective, but still beneficial in using the oil to soften the lines on your skin. If you have minor stretch marks, the cocoa butter shouldn’t take more than a couple of months to help them heal up. If you have significant scarring from many years ago, you can help to soften them up, but likely it’s a bit too late and you’ll have to wait for time to heal them up.
How Long Does a Big Container of Cocoa Butter Last?
Cocoa butter is an extremely stable fat. It contains natural fatty acids and antioxidants that keep it from turning rancid. On average, a container of 100% pure cocoa butter should last you from two to five years.
Advice Before Buying Cocoa Butter
Be sure to read the labels before you buy your container or jar of cocoa butter. You want to purchase it in as pure of a form as possible. Certain lotions are often diluted and contain little cocoa butter.
Generally, cocoa butter will cost more than coconut oil in the same quantity (grams).
You can use cocoa butter on any part of your body, including as a lip balm. You can also use it on cuts and abrasions to prevent scarring, but if redness or itchiness occurs, discontinue use.
If you need additional tips on judging if what you’re buying is pure cocoa butter, you want to know that diluted cocoa butter will have a lighter colour. It may also be runnier, as cocoa butter should be solid in its natural form. For instance, if you buy cocoa butter cream or lotion, it will look white and be a bit runny and fluffy looking.
Unlike chocolate, cocoa butter contains only trace amounts of caffeine and theobromine, so it’s perfectly safe even for pregnant women and children to use.
As long as your pet doesn’t eat your jar of cocoa butter, it’s fine if they lick skin that has been treated with cocoa butter, on occasion. Most of the harmful chemicals for pets—caffeine, theobromine, etc.—are in minute traces in the cocoa butter.
Many people are concerned when purchasing cocoa butter products, as they are produced in overseas countries. The solution is to check and see if they have been registered by Fair Trade and eco-friendly practices. Free Trade basically means that no child labour was used during any part of the process, and that workers are fairly treated and paid for their work.
Eco-friendliness involves the re-planting of cocoa plants and other surrounding forest, so that production has a lessened impact on the environment. Check the labels on your cocoa butter container for these additional logos that can indicate conforming to laws and regulations.
Final Thoughts on Using Cocoa Butter to Reduce Stretch Marks
While cocoa butter is more effective as a stretch mark preventative, you can still use it to reduce the appearance of stretch marks after they have been formed. Use it on a regular basis and soon you’ll begin to feel more confident around your partner, and when you’re on the beach sunbathing next summer.