You’ve probably heard the adage that French women eat a cube of extra dark chocolate a day for health reasons. The same is true for getting the full benefit of this chocolate sea salt body scrub; and the darker the chocolate the better. So this DIY skincare recipe uses 100 % pure cocoa powder, organic and Fair Trade if possible too. Be warned, it may be a messy mix, but it has numerous invigorating benefits for your skin.
But why bother to use chocolate and get you and your shower all messy, you may ask? For the pure and simple reason that the cocoa bean has some amazing properties for us inside and out. Scroll down for the chocolate body scrub recipe itself, but before you do, read our overview of why cocoa (aka dark chocolate) is good for you, and why it’s finding its way into skincare in more than in its regular cocoa butter form.
Montezuma’s Magic: cocoa from the Americas to the Mediterranean
The cocoa bean comes from the Theobroma cacao tree, a native of South America. It is grown across the world, particularly in African countries like Madagascar and Ghana; the latter is known for its exceptionally high quality cocoa. We’ve strong Mediterranean links to chocolate which are not as far-fetched as you may think.
Sicily under Spanish rule was heavily influenced during the 15th and 16th centuries by the Spaniard’s tastes for new produce acquired from their Aztec conquests in the Americas. In Sicily, the chocolate trade centred on the thriving town of Modica, a baroque Unesco-inscribed town still known as the home of Sicilian chocolate making. As Sicily and Malta were under the same rule until Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor gave the Islands to the Knights of St John, the appeal of chocolate traveled across to the nobles in Malta too. That’s our justification at Alchemy for craving chocolate as a pep up for both body and soul and claiming it as a surrogate Mediterranean ingredient!
From cocoa butter to cocoa powder
We’re all familiar with cocoa butter as an fab emollient in our natural skincare creams, especially body butters. It is solid at normal room temperature in northern climates but melts on contact with the skin, which makes it a very useful moisturizing agent. It is also interesting for our skincare as it contains anti-oxidents in the form of Vitamin E, which is highly beneficial in fighting the free radicals created by oxidizing oxygen and which can damage our skin cells over time. Cocoa butter is therefore a key ingredient in skincare particularly for maturer or dry skin types. It has a lightly nutty, chocolately scent especially if unrefined.
Pure cocoa powder, the other part of the seed, has some amazing properties as well when ingested or slathered on our skin. In our skincare at Alchemy, we look to cocoa’s theobromine, a caffeine-like element present in cocoa beans at around 25 g/kg, and therefore in chocolate too. It acts as a stimulant, along with cocoa’s more minimal caffeine traces. When massaged on the skin within a carrier oil it can stimulate the skin’s capillaries thereby encouraging blood flow to revive sluggish skin and the skin’s function as a toxin remover. We use a gentle, readily-available everyday oil like sunflower in this DIY scrub as it glides on lightly and is a fairly neutral carrier oil.
The sea salt is invigorating and a good forerunner to the massage those waves will give you on holiday in a couple of months. Most of us yearn water of sorts in summer, so even if you’re not bearing all on a beach, the chances are you upper thighs and butt would enjoy gentle buffing from this deliciously-scented body scrub.
Sea salt is a natural exfoliator as it draws toxins from the skin and also acts a mild abrasive sloughing off the dead, sluggish flaky skin cells in the epidermis. Sea salt in skincare is an amazing all rounder; it has properties that are surprisingly emollient for our skin; not drying at all.
Sea salt should be flakes or very small crystals as you don’t want a harsh abrasive texture. Do use sea salt not table salt as high quality sea salt will still contain the natural minerals of the sea. Here, I’ve used high-end brand of Cornish sea salt flakes mixed with a crushed crystal sea salt from the Maltese island of Gozo where is it harvested in centuries-old salt pans to traditional methods.
Salted Chocolate Body Scrub – natural skincare recipe
Note this is for body not facial use. Add a couple of drops of a citrus essential oil like tangerine or lime for an uplifting scent, especially if you love chocolate orange.
2 tbsps 100% pure cocoa powder – ideally fair trade & organic
3 tbsps flaked, natural sea salt, or crystal sea salt crushed in a pestle & mortar
2-3 tbsps sunflower (or grapeseed or olive) oil
1 tsp glycerine
2 drops tangerine or lime essential oil (optional)
Mix the cocoa powder and sea salt, then add and mix in the glycerine and essential oil if using. Drizzle in the sunflower oil mixing as you go. The scrub should be oily enough to smear over your body. If too dry, add more oil.
How to use:
Standing in the shower tray, take a small palmful of the scrub in wet hands and rub hands together before massaging the scrub onto your body. Do not use on face or decollete’; this scrub is meant for thigh, buttocks, and rough skin areas like elbows and feet. When massaged in, leave for 5 minutes then rinse off using gently warm water. Pat dry. Your skin should feel massaged and clean and will also have a wonderful light moisturizer on it from the sunflower oil residue.