Revive a Dull Complexion With Derm-Approved, Chocolate-Spiked Skin Care

Photo: Getty Images/FG Trade
When skin-care guru Josh Rosebrook drank cocoa mixed with soy milk regularly, he noticed that his skin became noticeably brighter. "So I did some light research on cocoa and skin, and found a study that said when it's taken internally, it stimulates blood circulation in the skin," Rosebrook, beauty expert and founder of his eponymous line Josh Rosebrook tells me. "I thought to myself, if it does this internally, according to science, what can it do topically?"

On a hunt for the ingredient to slather on his skin, he noticed there really weren't many chocolate face masks or beauty products using readily available cocoa extract. "I figured, 'I guess I'll make it myself,'" says Rosebrook, who proceeded to concoct a facial mask using raw cacao from Whole Foods mixed with apple cider vinegar, essential oils, and olive oil.

This was the earliest rendition of his cult-fave creation of the Cacao Antioxidant Mask ($65) that is now a staple in beauty cabinets of skin-care devotees everywhere. "Topically, the purpose is just to tone and brighten [the skin]," says Rosebrook. "Cocoa is so potent with flavonols—the antioxidants and polyphenol and the caffeine stimulate blood circulation topically, when it's topically stimulated, it creates a redness. But that's the blood being pulled from the dermal layer which feeds all the cells. And it's that activation phase of skin care that's so important and overlooked. It's activating the skin by pulling blood through to the surface so that it's nourished and fed, and it really does result in toned, bright, plump skin."

Dermatologist Shirley Chi, MD, says that cocoa is actually among her favorite ingredients to use on skin, and um, eat. "I'm a total chocoholic, and it's good that we're finally seeing the positive of chocolate and not just giving it a bad rep," she says, pointing out that chocolate's only bad for the skin when combined with sugar and dairy. "When applying cocoa directly to your skin, you get all of the antioxidants, which include polyphenols, procyanidin, and flavonoids. So it's really great for anti-aging, moisturizing, and for protecting against environmental pollutants."

Besides that, you can use cocoa butter, which derives from cocoa. "Cocoa butter is the saturated fat part of the cocoa bean, and it's a great moisturizer," says Dr. Chi. But the cocoa bean itself is a powerful antioxidant—which Adriana Rauno, founder of Mexican skin-care brand Vervan, happens to  use in plenty of her products. "It's very moisturizing for the skin and repairs the damage that's happened from environmental factors," she says. "It really helps revive dull skin and is full of catechins, which are strong free radical scavengers with anti-aging properties."

So yes, reach for chocolate for your moisturizing, anti-aging skin goals. "It's anti-aging, moisturizing, and smoothing," raves Dr. Chi. And the perk of the ingredient is that you can DIY a cacao face mask for yourself. "You could just mix cocoa powder with honey for a good face mask," she says.

Or you can just shop from the below and literally swaddle your face in ...chocolate (I'm drooling).

Other rockstar skin boosters include rice water in skin care (for moisture), and niacinamide to keep your complexion's barrier healthy and inflammation-free. 

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