Shea Butter vs Cocoa Butter – What Is the Difference and Which Is Better

We live in the era of DIY projects. Nowadays, everyone has their own DIY project.

Be it something for cooking, beauty product, or a DIY home decoration product. And when it comes to beauty DIY projects, the question many ask is shea or cocoa butter, and which one is better.

These two ingredients are staple in most beauty products. Most of the skincare products contain either of these two.

So, what is the difference? And which one is better for you to use?

The main difference

The key difference between these two kinds of butter is the source or their origin.

For example, cocoa butter is extracted from cocoa beans, which shea butter comes from the nuts of the Shea tree.

Both trees grow naturally, but in different areas of the world.

The cocoa tree, also known as the cacao tree, is native to the tropical region of South and Central America.

The Shea tree, on the other hand, grows only in Africa.

Both shea and cocoa butter natural fats in their pure form.

They have different properties, but their uses are somewhat similar.

How are they extracted?

Both kinds of butter are extracted from the fruit of their respective tree.

The process is done through pressure. However, there is a difference here as well.

Shea nuts are lightly boiled before extraction, and then sun-dried. After that, they are grinded into a paste.

The fat is then extracted from the paste and turned into butter through a process known as churning.

Cocoa butter, on the other hand, is removed from the beans by the use of an expeller.

This is a hydraulic press or extrusion.

Shelf Life

Another key difference between these two products is their shelf life.

Cocoa life has a much longer shelf life.

The product can last for up to 5 years, being that it is a natural preservative. Cocoa butter also helps preserve the shelf life of cosmetics.

Shea butter, on the other hand, has a much shorter shelf life of up to 2 years. After that, the product will go rancid and lose potency.


When it comes to beauty products, how your body reacts to them and how it absorbs them is a very important factor.

You want a product your body will accept easily.

Cocoa butter melts at body temperature and is quickly absorbed into the skin.

Shea butter also melts at body temperature and offers slightly better absorption.

Skin benefits

Given that we talk about beauty products, the thing most of us want to know is which butter offers better skin benefits.

That is a long list for answering.

Let’s break everything down.

Cocoa butter can help with skin conditions like dry skin, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, and rashes.

Shea butter works for exactly the same skin conditions.

Another factor is the skin type, or in other words, can you use it on you?

Well, cocoa butter is a bit limited in that regard.

Cocoa butter works only for oily skin and could clog pores of other skin types.

This makes it problematic for acne-prone skin.

Shea butter, on the other hand, works for all skin types, and it is non-comedogenic.

What does that mean?

It means that shea butter does not cause blackheads.

In terms of allergies, cocoa butter soothes skin allergies.

The cocoa beans contain polyphenols, which stop the production of immunoglobulin IgE (these are the antibodies found in the skin, lungs, and mucous membrane that cause the body to react against substances).

Shea butter, on the other hand, can cause possible reactions for those with nut allergies.

Benefits of using cocoa butter include improved skin tone, improved elasticity of your skin, and promoting collagen production.

The main benefit of using shea butter is promoting collagen production.

In terms of skin healing benefits, cocoa butter heals and fades scars, promotes healing to the damaged skin, promotes healing of chapped lips and skin.

Shea butter can help reduce acne scars, provides antimicrobial benefits to fight off infections, and anti-inflammatory properties. Shea butter also heals chapped lips and skin.

Both kinds of butter help reduce wrinkles and fade age spots.

As for skin protection, cocoa butter is rich in antioxidant vitamin E which provides protection from free radicals and damage from environmental pollutants.

Cocoa butter acts as a barrier on the skin and slows water loss.

Shea butter also contains Vitamin E.

In addition, the butter contains vitamin A which helps repair the skin and provide protection against UV rays (about SPF 6).

Quality over Name

When it comes to choosing between these two, we always recommend opting for quality, not the name of the product.

Both cocoa and shea butter are two of the most powerful skin rejuvenating moisturizers.

That makes the choice a matter of quality.

What does that mean?

It means you need to choose the pure and unrefined version.

If either of these two is refined, the products lose some of their healing and protective qualities.

Which one to choose?


It is best that you use both of these kinds of butter so that you reap some of the benefits of either one of them.

The ingredients work great in lotions, creams, soaps, and other cosmetic products.

Even hair care treatments benefit from cocoa or shea butter.

You can prepare a shampoo or conditioner that moisturizes and shines your hair.

One slight advantage of cocoa butter is that it smells slightly better.

That is why people in aromatherapy and massage prefer it over shea butter.

In addition, cocoa butter can alleviate stress and support the immune system, which is also one of the reasons you get a massage.

On the other hand, shea butter can be combined with any essential oil to get a specific fragrance.

This makes shea butter much more versatile.

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