Chocolate lovers, rejoice. Today is World Chocolate Day, and while there’s no excuse like this “holiday” to grab a chocolate bar on your lunch break, we have some guilt-free ways to incorporate the delicious treat into your regular routine.
While the sweet is often condemned for its high levels of fat, sugar, and calories, research has found that chocolate actually has a lot of benefits, from a healthier heart to smoother skin. But just like chocolate itself, this information could be bittersweet. It turns out that most doctors and researchers recommend eating chocolate in moderation, which gives you the ability to reap the benefits of the treat without packing on the pounds. But how can we be expected to satisfy our frequent chocolate cravings in such small doses?
Lucky for us, incorporating chocolate into our skincare and beauty regimes can allow us to achieve these benefits without going overboard.
The simple smell of chocolate can trigger the production of the feel-good hormone serotonin, as well as the release of endorphins, according to Psychology Today, which explains why chocolate is sometimes incorporated into relaxing treatments. Or, as aesthetician Kate Berg from Vada Spa points out, treatments that would otherwise be less than comfortable (think bikini waxing).
“We do chocolate waxes — the chocolate Brazilian waxes are very popular,” Berg tells Yahoo Beauty. “When you’re anticipating the wax, it’s not a very pleasant procedure. People are usually a little bit nervous or afraid, so the smell of chocolate actually psychologically calms down a patient.”
Using chocolate topically instead of eating it might be a weird (or sad) concept to grasp, but Berg swears that if you give it a chance you’ll be quick to try more of the treatments that can indulge both your sweet senses and skincare needs at once. “Chocolate wax is used to prevent irritation and to minimize sensitivity,” she explains. “But the chocolate mousse body wrap and the chocolate oils for the massage are treatments we use because [chocolate] has antioxidants and it’s hydrating. It detoxifies the body, while the smell acts as an aphrodisiac.”
The best part about the use of chocolate for skincare is that you aren’t restricted by your taste buds. Research has repeatedly suggested that dark chocolate is the healthiest type to eat, but if you’re not so keen on the bitter taste, dermatologist Rachel Nazarian of Schweiger Dermatology Group notes that you may be able to use it topically instead. “The type of chocolate makes quite a difference,” she tells Yahoo Beauty. “White chocolate and milk chocolate have little to no levels of the beneficial flavonoids, making dark chocolate the best choice,” says Nazarian. Flavonoids are the part of the cocoa plant that provide antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. But you may be surprised to learn that cocoa’s other beneficial ingredient might already have a place in your regimen.
“The topical application of cocoa butter or shea butter, made from chocolate fat, has wonderful hydrating and anti-inflammatory benefits for the skin,” Nazarian points out. “This high-fat moisturizer helps to calm inflamed skin and can be used to repair the broken skin barrier seen in sensitive skin conditions like eczema.”
Chocolate also has anti-aging properties, but Nazarian warns anyone prone to acne not to place too many chocolate products on their face. “As wonderful and delicious as chocolate is, the best way to incorporate it into your skincare regimen is to limit it orally or topically if you’re acne prone,” she says. “Otherwise, enjoy it in moderation orally in dark chocolate form as a potential anti-ager, and topically as cocoa butter as a natural moisturizer and emollient.”
Research continues to be conducted on the benefits of chocolate on the skin and in the body. But in the meantime, here are some cocoa products to immerse yourself in because there’s nothing like eating your dessert and bathing in it, too.
Alleviate problems with cellulite, stretch marks, eczema, and psoriasis with this caffeinated scrub.
Frank Body Cacao Coffee Scrub, $16.95, available at Frank Body.
Relieve your skin from oil and breakouts with this chocolate face mask.
Lush Cupcake Fresh Face Mask, $7.95, available at Lush.
Nourish your skin with a head-to-toe body polish made with all-natural ingredients.
Ikove Açai and Chocolate Body Polish, $29.95, available at Ikove.
Smell like delicious chocolate while soothing sensitive skin with this daily cream.
Meow Meow Tweet Cocoa Skin Cream, $32, available at Meow Meow Tweet.