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Author Biography:

Allison B. Vought  is an inventive scientist and educator specializing in natural cosmetic formulation and short-run, private label skincare. Since 2005, she has worked as chief cosmetic formulator, business consultant and CEO of various skin care companies. Allison is the co-founder of AliMar, LLC, (www.alimarlabs.com ) a private label manufacturer specializing in ultra-low minimums, as well as co-founder of the Vegan skincare line.

Cocoa Trends
By Allison B. Vought Thursday, November 13, 2014
Theobroma cacao, also known as cacao tree and cocoa tree, is a small evergreen native to deep tropical regions. Its seeds, called cocoa beans, are used to make cocoa powder and chocolate. Africa is the world's leading cocoa producing area with Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and Ghana as top producers.[1]

Cupuaçu, Theobroma grandiflorum, is a closely related species found in Central and South America. Like cacao, it is also the source for a kind of chocolate substitute known as cupuaçu chocolate. Cupuaçu is considered as having high potential by the food and cosmetics industries and is an acceptable alternative for cacao in most cosmetic formulations. Cupuaçu butter has high phytosterol and flavonoid content as well as moisture retaining properties, although it is softer and creamier than cocoa butter. Cupuaçu, unlike cocoa, does not contain caffeine.[2]
Research has found that chocolate is not only rich in polyphenols but has a high quality and quantity of antioxidants compared to other foods. A 2006 study showed that long-term ingestion of high flavanol cocoa provides protection against sunburn and improves skin texture in women.[3] Flavonoids are antioxidants that protect against free radical damage; they also affect blood vessels and decrease inflammation.[4]
Over 10 percent of the weight of cocoa powder consists of flavonoids. Cocoa and chocolate are among the most concentrated sources of the procyanidin flavonoids called catechin and epicatechin. However, depending on harvesting and processing procedures, as much as 90% of the flavonoids present can be lost during processing due to heat and fermentation.[5] Interestingly, cocoa powder and cocoa extracts have been shown to exhibit greater antioxidant capacity than many other flavanol-rich foods and food extracts, such as green and black tea, red wine, and blueberries in vitro.[6]
The price per ton of cocoa has increased steadily since May 2013, according to the International Cocoa Organization, making it a premium additive in cosmetics.[7] There is some concern that the current epidemic of the Ebola virus, which is centered in the heart of cacao production, may cause a spike in cocoa prices as well as further limitations on supply. However, rising cocoa prices have so far had more to do with basic economic trends [strong global demand outpacing limited global supply] than with the ongoing Ebola crisis. It is estimated that the epidemic will raise cocoa prices significantly only if it affects workers in cocoa fields, further limiting current supply.[8]
Many derivatives of both Theobroma cacao and Theobroma grandiflorum are readily available in the raw materials  market. Cocoa and Cupuaçu seed butters, Cocoa and Cupuaçu fruit powders, Cocoa Absolute, extracts, exfoliants and tinctures consisting of both Cocoa and/or Cupuaçu are a few of the antioxidant rich options available to cosmetic formulators. Should we see a continued spike in the price of cacao or greater limitations on supply, Cupuaçu is a unique and available alternative to Cacao.

  1. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. “Medium-term prospects for agricultural commodities.”
  2. Khosla, I. Cupuacu, a fruit with many health benefits.
  3. Heinrich, U. et al.Long-Term Ingestion of High Flavanol Cocoa Provides Photoprotection against UV-Induced Erythema and Improves Skin Condition in Women. J. Nutr. June 2006 vol. 136 no. 6 1565-1569.
  4. Collins, R.D., K. Is Chocolate Good For You?
  5. Keen C, et al. Dietary polyphenols and health: Proceedings of the 1st international conference on polyphenols and health. Amer J Clin Nutr. 2005. 81:1 298S-303S.
  6. Wan Y, et al. Effects of cocoa powder and dark chocolate on LDL oxidative susceptibility and prostaglandin concentrations in humans. Amer J Clin Nutr. 2001. 74:5 596-602.
  7. International Cocoa Organization.
  8. Kim, S. Why Chocolate Could Be the Next Casualty of the Ebola Outbreak. 

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