Chocolate Spa Treatments
By Janice Cox (of The Herb Companion Magazine)
Here’s some surprising news: Chocolate is good for your skin! Many of us grew up with the concept that chocolate causes blemishes. Instead, scientists now have discovered that chocolate can contain more antioxidants per cup than red wine or green tea. In fact, certain compounds in chocolate even help smooth the skin and decrease its sensitivity to the sun. Chocolate is good for your skin because of its high content of cocoa butter, which is a natural skin softener and conditioner. It is also an antioxidant, which means it prevents free radical damage to your skin and protects its natural elasticity. To receive the full benefit, choose commercial products or recipes with chocolate, cocoa and cocoa butter as the main ingredients. Also, dark chocolate seems to be much more effective than milk chocolate or white chocolate (which many argue is not really chocolate). Chocolate is considered dark if it contains at least 35 percent cocoa. In skin care, chocolate, cocoa and cocoa butter are all excellent moisturizers. Chocolate also contains caffeine which can stimulate your circulation and give your skin a healthy glow when used in a massage cream or body scrub. The scent of chocolate releases serotonin, the same hormone that we experience when falling in love and for many people promotes happy feelings and reduces stress. So next time you have a craving for something sweet, enjoy a bit of chocolate with the bonus of better skin and a better mood. Here are some cocoa-based recipes to create at home.
Chocolate from the Ground Up Chocolate is made from the seeds of the cacao tree. This tree is native to Central America and Mexico and dates back to 1100 b.c. The Mesoamerican people used the seeds to make beverages. The seeds are dried, cleaned and roasted to produce cacao nibs, which are ground and processed into two different substances: cocoa and cocoa butter. Chocolate as we know it combines these two components, along with other ingredients such as sugar, milk, and sometimes herbs and spices.
MOCHA FACIAL MASK
Makes 4 ounces, enough for 1 application
Facial masks are a great way to deep cleanse your skin so that it will work more efficiently. Plus, clean skin holds more moisture and looks brighter. The milk and espresso contain natural food acids that help rid your skin of surface debris and dead skin cells, while the chocolate or cocoa powder helps condition and soothe your complexion. Use weekly to wake up a dull complexion!
• 4 tablespoons finely ground espresso or coffee
•4 tablespoons cocoa powder
• 8 tablespoons whole milk
1. Mix together all ingredients until you have a smooth paste. 2. Spread over a clean face and neck, avoiding the eye and mouth area. 3. Let sit for 15 minutes and rinse well with warm water.
Chocolate Walnut Body Polish
Makes 8 ounces Exfoliate weekly with a body scrub for healthy, glowing skin. This rich recipe, full of natural nut oils, will gently scrub and soften the skin all over your body. In a pretty jar with a big bow, it also makes a wonderful gift. You can find walnut oil at the grocery store in the cooking oil section. You also might want to experiment with other natural nut oils, such as almond and macadamia
. • ½ cup raw sugar
• ¼ cup walnut oil
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped walnuts
• 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1. Stir together all ingredients until well mixed.
2. Standing in the shower or tub, massage into damp skin, rinse well and pat dry HOT COCOA BATH
Makes 16 ounces, enough for 1 bath Milk baths are classic beauty basics. They are effective because the lactic acid in milk helps soften and soothe the skin. Chocolate milk is equally effective; combined with the power of honey, this yummy bath will refresh your skin. Be extra decadent and sip a cup of cocoa while bathing. It is especially relaxing in the evening before going to bed.
• 2 cups chocolate milk
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 2 tablespoons mild liquid soap
1. Stir together all ingredients.
2. Pour under the running water as you fill your tub.
3. Bathe and relax for 15 to 20 minutes
Chocolate Lip Balm Cocoa Butter Cuticle Cream Cocoa Mint Foot Scrub Chocolate Massage Butter
Janice Cox is the author of Natural Beauty at Home, Natural Beauty for All Seasons and Natural Beauty from the Garden, all published by Henry Holt and Company (New York). For more recipes and ideas, visit her at www.HerbCompanion.com/Contributors.
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