What is the Difference Between Shea and Cocoa Butter?

A question I’m often asked is the difference between shea, cocoa and mango butter. From my experience as a product formulator I would say it mostly comes down to texture, smell and feel.

Shea butter has a very dense sticky texture when raw, a nutty smell and an absorbent feel. Cocoa butter has a hard texture when raw, smells like chocolate (yum!) and a wet (but not greasy!) feel.

As far as their effect on skin, I always tell people that they both do the same thing — regenerate, soften and heal. However shea butter in my opinion does a better job of softening and moisturizing hair than cocoa butter.

I came across this article on Better Shea Butter that breaks things down. Check it out;

The key difference between Shea butter vs cocoa butter is their source. Cocoa butter is extracted from cocoa beans, while Shea butter is extracted from the nuts of the Shea tree. The cocoa tree, also known as the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao), is native to the tropical regions of South and Central America. The Shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) grows only in Africa. Both Shea and cocoa butter are actually natural fats. They have slightly different properties, but their uses are similar.

Both shea and cocoa butter are extracts from the fruit of their respective trees. This is done through pressure, but in different ways. Shea nuts are lightly boiled and then sun-dried prior to grinding into a paste. The fat is then extracted from the paste and turned into butter through churning. Cocoa butter is removed from the beans by the use of an expeller, a hydraulic press or extrusion….

So what do I recommend for customers?

If you just want a butter for skin all of them are going to do the trick!

If you want a butter for hair, our sheas and mangos perform strongest. 

And remember we have three whips with both cocoa and shea butter in the base: Cocoa Shea Blended ButterIce Cream Blended Butter and Mocha Latte Blended Butter.

“I am usually resistant to using lotions (I don’t like the texture), but this whip is so fluffy and fun to use that I’ve become much better at moisturizing. I’m a mail carrier in a dry state, and this has brought a lot of comfort to my poor weather-beaten skin. Also, for anyone that has tattoos: I used this butter to heal a new tattoo and my artist was thrilled at how nicely it healed. Obviously it’s also great for keeping healed tattoos moisturized and bright. (At least, in my experience!)” — Natalie on Cocoa Shea Blended Butter

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