Widely used to create of all kinds of chocolate, cocoa butter also happens to be a star in many types of massage creams. A form of pure vegetable fat, cocoa butter is pale and edible, extracted from cacao seeds, or cocoa beans.

Cocoa butter is made when the cocoa beans are cleaned, crushed and ground into a paste. The paste is then heated until it becomes what is called “chocolate liquor.” This liquid is subsequently pressed to separate the cocoa butter from the cocoa solids.

Other names for cocoa butter include theobroma oil or theobroma cacao. Theobroma translates to “food of the gods.” For centuries, cocoa butter has been used in such places as Africa to protect and nourish skin that is constantly exposed to environmental elements.

Among the many perks of cocoa butter—all of which add up to make this one of the most popular ingredients in an array of products—is that this natural fat contains specific antioxidants that help preserve its freshness on the shelf, often for as long as three years.

For manufacturers of massage creams, this means less use of parabens, or chemical preservatives, as cocoa butter seems to contain its own naturally occurring preservative elements.

Another reason cocoa butter can be a key ingredient in massage creams is because of its powerful ability to moisturize skin, leaving it soft and supple after a massage session. The fact that cocoa butter melts at about body temperature means it can be easily absorbed into skin, which only adds to its moisturizing capacity.

The major moisturizing that comes with cocoa butter is the reason this substance is recommended to pregnant women looking to prevent stretch marks, as well as people suffering from various skin conditions.

Even if your clients are not pregnant or suffering from skin conditions, most can benefit from the moisturizing powers of cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is rich in vitamin E, which is reported to not only reduce scarring, but also smooth wrinkles and help erase other signs of aging.

Choosing a massage cream that brings such benefits to the table may be especially important as massage therapists and bodyworkers in many regions of the world prepare to enter the cold months of the year.

With cooler temperatures and more harsh weather around the corner, there’s a good chance clients could be presenting with dry or chapped skin. In such cases, having a highly moisturizing massage cream on hand could only add to client satisfaction following a massage or bodywork session.

Fortunately, massage creams that contain cocoa butter often bring together the best of both worlds. As a bodyworker, you have a massage lubricant that provides a combination of friction and glide that works well for your hands-on modality; in addition, clients also get to benefit from the fact your massage cream contains such an ingredient as cocoa butter.

If you’re searching for a highly moisturizing massage cream, consider looking for a one that lists cocoa butter as a key ingredient.

—Brandi Schlossberg