Does Cocoa Butter Help With Scars?

A bowl of cocoa butter on a wooden table

Cocoa Butter for Scars – Does it Work?

Cocoa butter, the edible fat derived from cacao beans, has become an increasingly popular natural ingredient in skincare and scar treatment products. Many tout cocoa butter lotions and creams as a cure-all solution for scars, claiming benefits like collagen production, skin hydration, and fading of scar tissue. However, a deeper look at the current research reveals less conclusive evidence about cocoa butter’s effects on scars.

While cocoa butter provides excellent moisturization and may temporarily improve the appearance of scars, there are no clinical studies demonstrating its ability to permanently reduce or remove scar tissue. In fact, some sources suggest it could potentially clog pores and cause breakouts. Still, many remain enticed by cocoa butter’s sweet scent and luxurious feel, continuing to use it in the hopes of diminishing their scars.

This article will analyze the known skin benefits of cocoa butter, assess the current research on cocoa butter for scars specifically, highlight its limitations, and explore proven alternatives more suitable for scar treatment goals. The aim is to provide an unbiased perspective on cocoa butter so readers can determine if it aligns with their personal scar care needs.

Cocoa Butter Skin Benefits

Although the evidence for cocoa butter’s scar treatment efficacy may be lacking, it does provide certain benefits for overall skin health and appearance:

Moisturization

Cocoa butter contains fatty acids that help hydrate and smooth skin while locking in moisture. The rich, emollient texture leaves skin feeling soft and supple, improving texture and reducing dryness. This helps improve the appearance of scars by keeping the skin around them well-hydrated.

Antioxidants

Compounds like vitamin E give cocoa butter antioxidant properties to help neutralize skin cell damage from free radicals. This can support healthy skin regeneration and soothe inflammation. However, antioxidants alone are not enough to spur new collagen production and remodeling within scar tissue.

Sensitive Skin

The natural formulation of cocoa butter makes it gentle enough for those with sensitive skin prone to irritation and rashes. As a fairly lightweight moisturizer, it is less comedogenic than other butters like shea, minimizing the risk of clogged pores and acne.

So while cocoa butter excels at softening, smoothing, and protecting overall skin health, other solutions are better suited for specifically targeting scar reduction and removal. Still, cocoa butter remains a darling of the skincare world for its pleasant scent and feel.

Image of a container of Dermefface FX7 scar removal cream

Research on Cocoa Butter and Scars

While plenty of skincare companies include cocoa butter in their scar treatment products, what does the clinical evidence actually say about its effects?

Prevention

A few studies have analyzed cocoa butter’s ability to prevent the formation of scars like stretch marks in pregnancy. However, results have been inconclusive at best:

  • A double-blind trial found no difference in incidence of stretch marks in pregnant women using a cocoa butter gel vs. placebo gel.
  • Another controlled study of over 300 women found no significant improvement from a cocoa butter cream in preventing pregnancy stretch marks compared to placebo.

So although cocoa butter may help hydrate skin to improve comfort during pregnancy, it does not appear effective at preventing permanent stretch mark scarring.

Treatment

Research focused specifically on using cocoa butter preparations to treat existing scars is more limited but remains unconvincing:

  • There are currently no published clinical studies showing cocoa butter application flattens or reduces hypertrophic or keloid scarring.
  • A small study in India found cocoa butter slightly improved the appearance of post-burn hypopigmentation but was not statistically significant from standard care.

Overall, dermatologists and surgeons do not recommend cocoa butter as a first-line scar treatment option.

While cocoa butter may provide some temporary improvement in scar appearance from moisturization, there is no evidence it can permanently reduce scar size, thickness or skin discoloration compared to no treatment.

Why Cocoa Butter May Not Help Scars

Given the lack of convincing research, what are the major drawbacks of relying on cocoa butter for scar care?

No Impact on Collagen

While the moisturizing fatty acids in cocoa butter improve skin hydration and flexibility, they do not influence collagen production or remodeling. Scar treatment requires reducing excessive collagen deposits within scar tissue through medical interventions. Cocoa butter does not address this root cause.

Comedogenic

The rich, emollient texture that makes cocoa butter an effective moisturizer can also clog pores for those prone to acne. The oily composition can lead to breakouts and irritation around scars. Those with active acne need to take extra care when using cocoa butter.

Minimal Skin Penetration

Although thick and creamy, cocoa butter molecules only penetrate the top layers of skin. This superficial moisturization provides temporary effects without reaching deeper scar tissue or influencing long-term dermal remodeling.

Insufficient Evidence

With no clinical studies conclusively showing cocoa butter improves scar thickness, size, or skin texture, relying solely on it for scar care means lacking evidence. There are several proven alternatives more supported by research.

Even though the pleasing scent and feel of cocoa butter makes it tempting to use for scars, its limitations should give those seeking permanent scar reduction pause. Further research would be needed to recommend cocoa butter as an effective scar treatment compared to other options.

Better Alternatives for Scar Treatment

For those seeking more effective options to reduce scar visibility, there are several evidence-backed ingredients and interventions worth considering:

  • Silicone Gels/Sheets: Clinically shown to flatten and smooth scars while hydrating skin to remodel scar tissue. Silicone sheets can be worn to provide constant delivery.
  • Onion Extract: Contains anti-inflammatory quercetin and allium compounds that restrict fibroblast activity to inhibit scar formation.
  • Vitamin E: As an antioxidant, it may help fade discoloration and smooth texture. Works best on newer scars in combination with sun protection.
    Steroid Injections: Injections like Kenalog can temporarily flatten keloid and hypertrophic scars by reducing inflammation and collagen production.
  • Dermefface FX7: Dermefface FX7 is a popular and effective scar cream that contains active ingredients like centella asiatica extract and hydrolyzed collagen to stimulate remodeling of scarred skin cells for a smoothing effect over time.
  • Laser Resurfacing: Ablative fractional laser treatments remove scarred outer layers to improve skin texture, reduce discoloration, and flatten raised scars.

With various options like these available, cocoa butter may moisturize and protect skin but lacks evidence as an effective scar treatment compared to more targeted approaches. Speak to your dermatologist about products and procedures tailored to your scar type and goals.

See Also: The Top 5 Anti-Aging Supplements That Really Work

Final Thoughts

While the sweet scent and silky texture of cocoa butter makes it an appealing natural choice for scar care, the current body of evidence does not indicate it is an effective treatment.
Cocoa butter excels as a gentle moisturizer, and the hydration it provides may temporarily make scars appear smoother and less noticeable. However, there are no clinical studies demonstrating actual scar size or thickness reduction over time. Key compounds like collagen-stimulating vitamins are also lacking.

Without addressing the underlying dermal causes, cocoa butter cannot flatten or remove scar tissue itself. Its oily nature may even clog pores and cause problems for acne-prone individuals. While pleasant to apply, those seeking permanent scar improvement will likely need to look to more targeted treatment options.

In summary, cocoa butter makes an excellent moisturizer for skin health but falls short as a first-line defense against scars. Some temporary redness or texture improvement is possible, but primarily through skin hydration, not scar remodeling. Consult your dermatologist if your goals include long-term lightening, smoothing, or flattening of scar tissue itself. An evidence-based combination approach will give you the best chance of success.

See Also: Top 10 Vitamins and Minerals for Skin Health and Beauty

Image of a container of Dermefface FX7 scar removal cream

References

  1. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/6f11339beceb0381beefc322c5696d94d29e7cd5
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7830171/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5747963/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20758903/

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