Cocoa Butter vs Shea Butter: Which One is Better For Your Skin?

cocoa butter vs shea butter

Cocoa butter and shea butter are becoming increasingly popular in skincare, and for a good reason. These natural products provide a multitude of benefits for your skin and hair.

People tend to choose between cocoa butter and shea butter according to their skin types. However, both of them contain almost the same ingredients but in varying amounts. A higher concentration of vitamin A and E in Shea butter and a good quantity of essential fats in cocoa butter impart their roles differently for your skin.

At SkinVeteran, we are a team of experts ensuring our visitors maintain healthy skin. This article takes a closer look at some of the factors that set shea butter and cocoa butter apart. Also, it will help you choose the better one for your skin type.

Shea Butter vs Cocoa Butter: Source and Making

Cocoa butter is made from the cocoa bean of the Theobroma Cacao L tree, which is most commonly found in the tropical regions of West Africa and Central and South America. The roasting, stripping, and pressing of these beans results in cocoa butter.

Shea butter, however, is extracted from the nuts of the shea tree, Vitellaria Paradoxa. These trees mostly grow in West and Central Africa. And, their seeds contain fewer fats compared to cocoa beans. After experiencing a bit of mechanical processing, shea seeds turn into shea butter.

Chemical and Physical Properties

On the basis of the chemical composition of these two vegan products, we further classify them for specific skin types.

Cocoa Butter

Cocoa butter comes in the rock-solid form and has to be cut with a knife but melts completely upon contact with skin. Its color ranges from pale yellow to dark brown and smells strongly of chocolate and coffee.

Cocoa butter contains the following fatty acids that do wonders for your dry skin.

  • Oleic acid 3.3 %
  • Stearic acid 34 %
  • Palmitic acid 26.1 %
  • Arachidic acid 1%

Oleic acid helps restore dry and aging skin, while the latter softens the skin and helps it retain moisture by forming a barrier. The presence of oleic acid makes cocoa butter very heavy and greasy but absorbent still, which makes it the perfect moisturizer for very dry skin. 

Shea Butter

Shea butter is soft to touch, easy to break with your fingers, and melts upon contact with skin. It usually has a mild nutty smell and an off-white, creamy color, which can vary depending on the method employed for its extraction. 

Shea butter consists of a low amount of fats and many vital vitamins like the following.

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • linolic acid
  • Palmitic acid

In contrast to oleic acid, linoleic acid is much lighter and absorbs into the skin very easily, making shea butter a good moisturizer for oily, acne-prone skin. 

Cocoa vs Shea Butter: How Choose the Better For Your Skin?

Based on the fat content of shea butter and cocoa butter and their other skin benefits, you can decide which will suit your skin type the best.

1. How is cocoa butter better for dry skin type?

The fatty acids present in cocoa butter make it highly moisturizing, especially for dry and damaged skin. In addition, it helps even out your skin tone and stimulates the production of collagen, the protein that makes your skin look plump and youthful.

Cocoa butter can also soothe skin allergies and skin irritations caused by eczema and dermatitis. It is also used as a natural remedy for burns and rashes.

As it is an excellent moisturizer for dry skin, you should not use cocoa butter on combination, oily or acne-prone skin because it is highly comedogenic and will clog your pores. And, since it is so greasy, it becomes very difficult to use in hot weather.

2. Shea butter is finer for wrinkles than cocoa butter

Shea butter contains Vitamins A and E, which repair the skin and provide a light layer of UV protection of up to SPF 6, which also contributes to the anti-aging properties of shea butter.

Due to the higher content of antioxidants like vitamins, shea butter works best against wrinkles compared to cocoa butter.

However, a study conducted on the importance of cocoa in maintaining skin health inferred that the antioxidant properties of cocoa butter help in reducing oxidative stress. Therefore, it does repair skin damage but not as shea butter does. 

3. Shea butter best suits acne prone skin

Shea butter has very similar moisturizing and healing properties as cocoa butter. However, since it is lighter, less greasy, and non-comedogenic than cocoa, shea butter is more beneficial for oily, acne-prone skin.

acne vulgaris

In addition, its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties help your skin fight off infections.

4. Cocoa butter for strecth marks

Cocoa butter and lotions are available on the market to claim reduction of stretch marks.

While studies have confirmed that cocoa butter massage does not diminish stretch marks, it does reduce their appearance for some time. Applying cocoa lotions improves skin elasticity by inducing collagen and elastin production.

5. Cocoa butter conditions your hair better

Cocoa butter has numerous benefits for the hair too. Applying it to the lengths of your hair makes them shiny, strong, voluminous and protects them from heat damage.

Employing it as a conditioner after shampoo makes your hair soft, manageable and provides nourishment to your hair throughout the day. Here are some DIY recipes to make the most of your cocoa butter to improve your skin and hair health.

Cocoa butter is a natural preservative and has a shelf life of 5 years, which means that you don’t have to purchase it very often or worry about it getting spoiled. 

6. Shea Butter is a good choice for skin irritation

study conducted on 34 patients with eczema found that the cream containing shea butter reduced skin irritation in 74% of the participants, thus proving that it is also effective against eczema and other types of skin itching.

Shea butter is also commonly used to treat sunburns and stretch marks (due to vitamin A and E), and some people also claim that it proves very effective in relieving nasal congestion.

What To Consider Before Buying Shea and Cocoa Butter

Shea Butter comes in very small quantities but is very high in demand, making it very expensive. Furthermore, it has a shelf life of only 1-2 years, which means you will have to repurchase it every so often, which can be a little heavy on the pocket.

The smell of shea butter is also found to be unpleasant by many. Most importantly, shea butter is made from the shea nut and will cause an allergic reaction in anyone allergic to nuts.

It is very important to do a patch test before using them regularly. Lastly, it’s better to use these creams in their simple form because not only are they more nutritious and effective in that form, but there are no chemicals involved either, which reduces the chances of having an allergic reaction to these products.


Both shea butter and cocoa butter have a varying degree of use in skin and hair care products. Their chemical composition makes them unique to be used for specific skin types and purposes. Talk to your physician before employing any of the shea and cocoa butter commercial products.