Food of the Gods: Cacao
February feels like the perfect time to talk about chocolate!
It seems like you can't aimlessly meander around the Internet without stumbling upon another article touting the benefits of chocolate (mostly of the dark variety). Why? Because cacao is brimming with over 300 phytochemicals, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In fact, raw cacao has an impressive ORAC score of 98,000 per 100g. This potent antioxidant activity prevents cell destruction, boosts collagen, and can offer skin protection from UV damage. Perhaps most importantly, cacao boosts blood flow to skin’s surface, creating a luminous, more even-toned complexion.
You’ll typically encounter cacao in your skincare products in the form of raw cacao extract or cacao absolute oil. Cacao absolute oil is usually extracted with a solvent, such as alcohol, but newer, cleaner methods, like CO2 extraction, are slowing being utilized as well. Fun fact - cacao absolute is one of the most popular aphrodisiac oils. The scent is sensual, warm, and exotic and known to open the heart chakra (the fourth chakra that represents our ability to love). Breathing in cacao absolute oil is also thought to decrease anxiety and stress and promote relaxation and clarity of mind.
Here are a few of my favorite sources of calming, balancing, nutrient-packed cacao:
Black Chicken Cacao Revelation Mask – This clay mask draws impurities from pores, while evening skin tone (thanks cacao!) and gently stimulating circulation. But what I love the most about this mask is the addition of aloe vera powder. I have a minor obsession with skin-healing, anti-inflammatory aloe vera so I’m always happy when it pops up in unexpected places like clay masks!
Mahalo Pele Mask Concentrate – I am deeply in love with this mask. It combines 24 jaw-dropping ingredients, including volcanic ash clay, bamboo charcoal, cacao, neem, holy basil, and turmeric that simply work magic on the skin. I consider Pele Mask a detox in a jar.
MOSS Sacred Ground Mineral Clearing Mask – This mask is a tiny miracle. It contains sulfur and somehow smells amazing. Oh and it does an incredible job at clearing congestion. This mask is definitely my pick for fussy skin experiencing a flare up because it not only draws out dirt and oil, but it seems to calm and soothe skin as well.
R.L. Linden The Bee Charmer – This lovely mask/cleanser contains chocolate. Real chocolate! As you can imagine, it smells incredible. And I love that it contains poppy seeds to gently exfoliate skin. A true multi-tasker, The Bee Charmer is one of my favorite not-so-guilty pleasures.
The Little Alchemist Cacao & Banana Face Glow – Chocolate and bananas? Yum! Another mask, that smells good enough to eat. Additionally, Face Glow contains an anti-oxidant rich super fruit blend to further up the radiance factor. This is a gorgeous mask for anyone seeking a smoother, softer, more luminous complexion. So everyone, right?