Using cocoa butter for stretch marks has long been thought of as a cure for the unsightly marks that occur during weight gain or pregnancy. While many people espouse the use of pure cocoa butter — and using it hasn't been shown to worsen these marks — testing has shown less than satisfactory results regarding its benefits. For those who do not want to use a cream made from potentially harmful chemicals or undergo microdermabrasion treatments, cocoa butter mixed with vitamin E may help erase stretch marks. While cocoa butter alone is not necessarily effective, it moisturizes the skin, increases elasticity, and can help guard against future stretch marks.
Cocoa butter, a stable vegetable fat, is the fat portion of the cocoa bean. Unlike many fats, it is a solid at room temperature but melts at body temperature. Its stability has led it to be used in moisturizing products, because it can penetrate skin and deliver moisture immediately. Its highly moisturizing nature leads many people to believe that it can treat stretch marks effectively and that it is safer than other treatments.
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In a double-blind research study — a study where neither the patient or researchers knew who used cocoa butter and who used a placebo — 175 women were asked to use a cream to reduce stretch marks. The study went on for several months and the women were examined periodically. After the study, cocoa butter was found to be as effective as the placebo, making little to no change in the stretch marks.
Researchers have found that, instead of using just cocoa butter, using vitamin E may be an effective and natural way to reduce stretch marks. This vitamin was able to reduce both existing stretch marks and the number of oncoming stretch marks resulting from pregnancy. Vitamin E is a collection of fat-soluble compounds that act as antioxidants and is found naturally in many seeds and nuts.
Cocoa butter is still a viable solution to reduce stretch marks, because it is typically sold with additives, like vitamin E or, more specifically, alpha tocopherol. This means the vitamin E will affect the stretch marks while the cocoa butter will moisturize the skin.
Even when vitamin E oil and cocoa butter are combined, the two will not work immediately. It will typically take several months, about three or four, before stretch marks will begin to disappear. If an immediate solution is needed, surgery will work quickest.