Cocoa Vs Cacao: Which Is Better & Healthier For The Skin?

Indulge in the bitter yet sweet way of protecting your skin—Cocoa vs Cacao. Get to know which is better & healthier for you.

We often marvel at how the wording on the labels of various “healthy products” differs. Like choosing something with cocoa vs cacao. And if you think they are the same, think again. There is a big difference between them.

Cacao and cocoa come from the beans of the Theobroma cacao trees. The main distinction between the two is how the cocoa bean is processed after harvesting and how this affects its health benefits.

Interested? Come along and let’s dive into the chocolate world!

A quick history of the word “Cacao”.

Theobroma Cacao is the botanical name for the chocolate tree. Cacao is regarded as the closest pronunciation to the plant’s original name, which comes from the Olmec inhabitants of what is now Mexico. Chocolate was traded from the Olmec to the Mayans to the Spanish. The word cacao is the only Hispanic word used to describe what English speakers call cocoa. It is usually believed that the term cocoa originated from a spelling error that was never fixed and was likely easier to pronounce than the right form. What a fun fact!

Cocoa and Cacao, are they the same?

Both words mean the same thing, as “cocoa” is the English translation of “cacao.” But there are fundamental differences between the two. While cacao refers to raw cacao beans, cocoa refers to roasted cacao beans. Cacao is a raw bean, generally packaged as vegan chocolate with minimal processing and no additives. Cocoa, on the other hand, is a processed chocolate product (e.g., chocolate bars, choco powder, etc.).

Maybe you’re asking, “Hey, do you know how cacao is processed?” Don’t worry, I’ve got your back in detail!

How is chocolate produced?

A chocolate bar is prepared from cacao or cocoa pods containing cacao or cocoa seeds (often referred to as beans). To dissolve the outside pulp, they’re wrapped in banana leaves for a week. The natural fermentation process turns bitterness into rich cacao or cocoa flavor. After cleaning and drying, the beans are ready to be processed. It is then refined into cacao or cocoa. [1]

What is the process for producing cacao?

Unroasted cacao beans are cold-pressed to make raw cacao. This preserves the cocoa’s enzymes, separates the fat (called cacao butter), and generates nibs. Nibs are the fragmented pieces of the bean after fermentation, drying, and pressing. When it comes to cacao nibs, they are typically used to make cacao liquor. Cacao liquor is a type of chocolate liquor that does not contain any alcohol.  [1]

In what way is cocoa made?

Raw cacao is roasted to make cocoa. Heat and roasting the cacao bean modifies its molecular structure, resulting in cocoa, cocoa butter, and chocolate/cocoa liquor products. It is important to note that heating diminishes the enzyme content and hence reduces the overall nutritional value of cocoa, making raw cacao the healthier option. [1]

Next in line, let’s answer: Cocoa vs Cacao —Which is better and healthier for the skin?

Cocoa vs Cacao: Which Is Better & Healthier For The Skin? 

What’s in cacao that makes it so beneficial for your skin?

Vitamin C and magnesium are at the top of the list for their antioxidant, spot-fading, and collagen-boosting effects. This latter mineral is wonderful for your skin as magnesium is anti-inflammatory and can help reduce redness, which is excellent for acne-prone skin. It also helps your skin function better. Cacao also includes omega-6 fatty acids, which are good for the skin both internally and externally, helping it look plump, dewy, and hydrated. That’s amazing. [2,3,4]

But do you know what makes cacao shine, among other ingredients? Antioxidant level. It’s loaded with flavonoids, which fight free radicals and protect the skin. Those bothersome free radicals are produced in your skin by exposure to everything from the sun to pollutants to stress. That’s why the more antioxidants you consume, the better. 

And to add excitement, the antioxidant protection you get from cacao is unique compared to others. Cacao outperforms other antioxidants in guarding the skin against blue light as cocoa and chocolate products have the highest flavonoid content by weight of any other food. [5]

The following are the top five skin benefits of cocoa:

As we all know, what we eat shows up on our skin, and what we slather on it is as important. Therefore, here are some benefits of eating and applying cacao for better skin health.

1. Cacao is considered a superfood.

It contains about 300 elements, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and phytonutrients. Cacao powder is high in magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, beta-carotene, and omega-6 fatty acids, which help your body and skin function optimally. They can protect skin from external stresses, nourish skin, and generate a healthy glow when applied topically. [6]

2. It is jam-packed with antioxidants.

When ingesting cacao, the proportion of flavanols increases. Cacao flavanols are plant-derived antioxidants that assist in blood vessel elasticity. They stimulate blood flow, keep arteries and veins elastic, protect the heart, and keep skin glowing and youthful. Externally, cacao is a wonderful ingredient in facial skincare products since it provides various nutrients for healthy skin that improve texture, tone, and radiance. [6]

3. Cacao provides top-notch skin protection.

Cacao safeguards skin against harmful elements and environmental stresses. When you put cocoa on your skin, you get all of the antioxidants, which are polyphenols, procyanidins, and flavonoids. So it’s great for anti-aging, moisturizing, and protecting your skin from outside pollution. And it has also been proven that eating chocolate can significantly protect the skin from UV rays. [6]

4. It improves micro-circulation for vibrant skin.

As cacao is high in flavanols, it increases total oxygen content and blood flow in the body. Thus, by improving blood flow and circulation, you can keep your skin cells nourished and increase the overall vitality of your skin, allowing you to keep your youthful skin for longer. [6]

This also applies to the topical usage of cacao. The antioxidants found in cacao activate the skin by pulling blood through the surface, stimulating it, and preparing the skin for better moisturization.

5. Internally and externally, it soothes and relaxes.

Cacao is a polyphenol-rich food and topical ingredient. [6,8]


Cacao is relaxing and regenerative when applied topically, resulting in strong and radiant skin. Its topical application provides many of the same skin benefits as consuming it. To reduce inflammation and stimulate blood flow. Applying flavonoid-rich raw cacao slows the aging process, repairs and prevents further damage, and supports healthy collagen.

Honestly speaking, I’ve boosted my usage of cacao after learning about its incredible health advantages. That’s why I hope you’ll also enjoy your next chocolate indulgence with the realization that you’re giving your body a nutritional boost!


When these specific antioxidants are ingested, they diminish inflammation in the body, influencing cardiovascular, neurological, intestinal, and metabolic disorders. Polyphenols may be effective for skin illnesses connected with solar UV, radiation-induced inflammation, oxidative stress, and DNA damage, according to a study conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham. [9]

Important notes

Keep in mind:

  • You may not get all of these benefits from every piece of chocolate because of the fact that not all chocolate is created equal. As a result, if you want to reap the greatest health advantages, make sure you are using or applying raw cacao.
  • Look at the ingredient list. The term “raw cacao” on a package simply denotes the presence of raw cacao in the product. Be sure to use cacao that hasn’t been tainted by added sugars, fats, or other unhealthy substances. Read the label carefully because the more additional ingredients are present, the lower the health value.
  • If you need to choose between Cocoa vs Cacao, especially if you aim for optimal skin health and a boost, go for raw cacao.

A little trivia before you go: Did you know that “raw” cacao are ingredients that haven’t been processed above 48 degrees Celsius. Although in reality, raw cacao processing doesn’t go beyond 40 degrees.

P. S—Now you officially have five excuses to enjoy eating chocolate. LOL! Hope you enjoyed it! 😉

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