Is It Safe To Use Cocoa Butter On Tattoos?

Admit it – the first thing that probably came to mind when you read the words ‘cocoa butter’ was an image of delicious, mouth-watering chocolate. I don’t blame you, lots of people think cocoa butter is the same as chocolate. I mean, technically it is (and we’ll get into that later). But for now, let’s find out if this main chocolate ingredient – cocoa butter – is safe to use on tattoos.

But first, what exactly is cocoa butter?

This is where cocoa butter comes from (Photo by Ly Le Minh)

Cocoa butter, also known as chocolate fat and Theobroma oil, is butter extracted from cocoa beans. The beans go through several processes before cocoa butter is finally extracted. It’s fermented, dried, roasted, and finally, pressed, to separate the butter from non-fat cocoa solids. The solids are then ground down to make cocoa powder.

It’s a key ingredient in chocolate

Cocoa butter along with cocoa powder is used to make all kinds of chocolate – dark, milk, white, etc. Of course, sugar, milk and other ingredients will eventually be added to the mix for flavour. But these two (cocoa butter + powder) are the main stars of our favourite chocolate desserts.

Of course, eating too much (processed) chocolate is unhealthy. But in its pure form, cocoa is actually rich in minerals like iron, magnesium, and potassium, which is good for vascular health.  

It smells and tastes heavenly

Raw cocoa butter tastes and smells faintly like dark chocolate. It’s very much edible, so you can eat it on its own or add it as an ingredient to various foods. Just so you know, cocoa contains a significant amount of flavanols and polyphenols, which makes it a high-antioxidant food. What this basically means is that cocoa is good for your body, inside and outside.

It’s used in many skincare products

Cocoa butter isn’t just meant to be eaten. It’s also used as an ingredient in various skincare and beauty products. Yes, that’s right – cocoa butter has a ton of benefits when eaten as a snack AND when applied topically to the skin.

Cocoa butter has a buttery smooth texture. This means it’s pretty easy to apply on skin – your fingers are going to glide right over! Thanks to its emollient properties, it’s also ultra-hydrating. So, it’s a great natural moisturiser that, coincidentally, won’t break the bank.

Now, if you think cocoa butter’s skin healing and moisturising properties are but a new discovery, you’re mistaken. The ancient Aztecs and Mayans have been using cocoa and its by-products for more than 3000 years! So, it’s definitely been around the block and has moisturised countless human skins – and tattoos – over many centuries!  

Cocoa vs cacao: what’s the difference?

These terms are often used interchangeably. But really, they refer to the same thing – the seeds of Theobroma cacao tree, a.k.a. cocoa tree. However, there is an important distinction here:

Cacao refers to raw or unroasted beans, while cocoa refers to the roasted kind.

How is cocoa butter made?

If you want to know how you can make cocoa butter, here’s a video showing you every step of the process:

Can you put cocoa butter on new tattoos? 

As you’ve learned in the previous section, cocoa butter is amazing. Not only does it smell and taste good, but it also has a ton of healing properties that make it an ideal skin moisturiser.

However, to answer the question, no, cocoa butter shouldn’t be used on fresh, weeping tattoos. This is because when the tattoo is still weeping, it means that the tattoo needle puncture holes are still open. So, if you put some cocoa butter on the area, it may penetrate the wound and cause an infection.

Now, you’re probably wondering why this is the case if cocoa butter is 100% natural. Well, the answer lies in the fact that cocoa is a comedogenic butter, so it can clog up pores and cause irritation to the area.

Fresh, weeping tattoos are at its most vulnerable – you want to avoid contact with anything that isn’t 100% sterile. This is because tattoos are technically open wounds – you want to keep the area clean and primed for optimal healing.

We recommend you use a healing ointment (like Aquaphor or A&D) instead during the first 2-3 days. Check out this guide on how to use Aquaphor on a new tattoo.

However, cocoa butter is safe to apply on a new tattoo as soon as it stops weeping and you see scabs starting to form.

In fact, some users say cocoa butter helped reduce their scabs, and absolutely minimised the peeling and even the itching! Of course, your mileage may vary, but here’s to hoping you get the same positive result as well!  

Here’s why cocoa butter works great on non-weeping, healed tattoos

More cacao fruits (Photo by Alexandre Brondino)

It’s a natural moisturiser

Just like coconut oil, cocoa butter is also a natural moisturiser. It seals in moisture on the skin pretty effectively. It’s also great for hydrating dry skin thanks to its rich creamy consistency. And as you probably already know, the better moisturised your skin is, the better your tattoo is going to look!

Reduces appearance of thick scabs

Scabs are normal for healing tattoos. But by using cocoa butter, the skin is properly hydrated so the scabs are kept to a minimum, if at all. That said, a thin application of cocoa butter on tattoo will be absorbed into the skin, which makes it more supple and less prone to cracks.

Helps minimise tattoo itching

Tattoo itching can either be really mild or extremely crazy. Thankfully, with cocoa butter, the chances of your tattoo itching like crazy is significantly reduced. This is because the tattooed area won’t be irritated and will instead be well-moisturised. This translates to a far less itchy, healing tattoo.

Helps with tattoo healing

Cocoa butter has anti-inflammatory properties. So, in terms of a healing tattoo, it can help the skin recover quickly since it can reduce swelling and inflammation. Also, since scabs and peeling skin are minimised, then it makes the tattoo healing process go much faster.

It has powerful anti-aging properties

Cocoa butter is rich in healthy fatty acids as well as Vitamins E and K. These are components that helps combat – or at least, delay – the appearance of aging skin. Cocoa butter is often touted as an effective stretch mark remover.

In theory, the butter is supposed to ‘cover’ up the gaps in skin, pretty much like tiles and grout – with skin as the tiles and cocoa butter as grout. Essentially, when the gaps are ‘filled out’, the skin will look smoother and younger.

The best cocoa butter for tattoos

For unhealed tattoos (past the weeping stage), the best kind of cocoa butter to use would be the organic and unrefined kind. It would be naturally yellowish in colour and will have a distinct chocolatey smell. If you see cocoa butters marketed as ‘unrefined’ but are snow white in colour and has no smell, then chances are it’s not truly unrefined.

Our #1 pick:

There are plenty of ‘certified, organic, raw, unrefined, pure’ cocoa butter online. But we like The Soapery’s version best:

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A 500g tub only costs a little over 10 quid (click on the image for current pricing). The butter is extracted by pressing only, so you’re assured no nasty chemicals are added to the final product. As you’d expect, this smells naturally like chocolate since no fragrances are added to the butter.

In addition to being perfect for use on both healing and healed tattoos, this food-grade butter is also perfect for use on making chocolates and other delicious cocoa-based recipes! You can also use this as base ingredient to make your own homemade body butter.

Our #2 pick:

If you like using commercial products with proven track record, check out Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Fragrance-Free Moisturising Lotion.

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It’s hypoallergenic and will work great on sensitive skin, including those with dry and eczema-prone skin. The 24-hour moisture formula is also a huge bonus. This means a once-a-day application is all that’s needed to keep your tattoo moisturised throughout the day and night!

Who shouldn’t use cocoa butter?

Cocoa butter is great for both healing (as long as it’s no longer weeping) and fully healed tattoos. However, it’s a pretty thick butter and thus may not be ideal for some people.

For instance, if you have oily skin and you’re acne prone, then cocoa butter may cause an acne breakout. When you have a healing tattoo, the last thing you want to happen is for acne to destroy your tattoo’s design!

Also, if you’ve got a condition known as ‘chicken skin’ or keratosis pilaris, then cocoa butter may not be ideal for you as well. This is because the heavy butter is a well-known comedogenic and can clog your pores big-time. In addition to developing more tiny, itchy bumps on your skin, you may also experience folliculitis (inflammation of hair follicles).

While cocoa allergies are pretty rare, there are still some people who are allergic, or at least, sensitive to cocoa. To ensure you’re not allergic to the butter, do a quick patch test on non-tattooed skin. Wait 24 hours and see if you get an allergic reaction.

If you are allergic to cocoa butter, we recommend you check out Unedited Tattoo Moisturiser instead. It’s made with extra virgin coconut oil, so your tattoo’s going to look very nice as well!

Will cocoa butter fade tattoos?

If applied on weeping tattoos, then yes, cocoa butter may draw out some of the ink and cause the tattoo to fade prematurely. However, if applied on well-healed tattoos, then no, coconut butter won’t fade the ink. Quite the contrary, thanks to its superior moisturising properties, the butte will make the skin look soft and supple. This, in turn, will make the tattoo look great as well!

Conclusion

Cocoa butter on fresh, bleeding tattoos can compromise the area and delay the healing process. However, once the puncture wounds start to close up and the tattoo stops oozing plasma, then cocoa butter gets a green ‘GO!’ signal from us. To conclude, cocoa butter is a natural moisturiser with healing properties that’s been proven to minimise scabbing, peeling and itching on new tattoos.

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