Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter

What Is It?

Theobroma Cocoa (Cocoa) Seed Butter, also called Cocoa Butter, is the fat obtained from the seeds of Theobroma cacoa. It is the fat that is often used in chocolate. Sodium Cocoa Butterate is the sodium salt of the fatty acids obtained from Cocoa Butter.

Cocoa Seed Butter is used in the formulation of bath products, fragrances, cleansing products, depilatories, eye and facial makeup, hair conditioners, skin care products and suntan products. Sodium Cocoa Butterate is used in soaps.

Why Is It Used?

Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter temporarily protects injured or exposed skin from harmful or annoying stimuli and may provide relief to the skin. Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter also slows the loss of water from the skin by forming a barrier on the skin’s surface. Sodium Cocoa Butterate is used as a surfactant – cleansing agent.

Scientific Facts

Cocoa Seed Butter is the natural, edible fat obtained from the roasted seeds of Theobroma cacao. Cocoa Seed Butter is extracted during the process of making chocolate and cocoa powder. It contains approximately 34-36% stearic acid, 30-40% oleic acid and 24-29% palmitic acid.

Safety Information

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes Cocoa Seed Butter on its list of substaces considered Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for direct addition to food. Cocoa Seed Butter is also approved for use as an active ingredient in Over-The-Counter (OTC) skin protectant drug products at concentrations of 50 to 100%, and in OTC anorectal drug products. When used as a drug the labeling name is Cocoa Butter.

The safety of Cocoa Butter and Sodium Cocoa Butterate has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. The CIR Expert Panel evaluated scientific data and concluded that these ingredients were safe for use in cosmetics and personal care products.

Botanical and botanically derived ingredients used in the formulation of cosmetics are generally mild and safe. Prior to marketing the finished cosmetic product, the safety of each ingredient must be substantiated in accordance with 21 CFR 740.10. Safety substantiation of cosmetic ingredients may include tests for ocular and skin irritation as well as allergenicity, phototoxicity, photoallergenicity and mutagenicity, depending on the application or intended use.

There is a considerable body of information about the safety of botanical ingredients and a well-established history of use. These resources are consulted to ensure the safety of these materials as they are used in cosmetics.

CIR Safety Review:

Theobromo Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter and Sodium Cocoa Butterate were included in the CIR Expert Panel’s review of plant-derived fatty acids oils. Based on a history of safe use in food, the composition of the oils, and data indicating that these ingredients were not dermal irritants or sensitizers, the CIR Expert Panel concluded that plant-derived fatty acid oils including Theobromo Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter and Sodium Cocoa Butterate were safe as used in cosmetic products.

Link to FDA Code of Federal Regulations for Cacao and Cocoa Butter

More information about botanical ingredients.

Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter may be used in cosmetics and personal care products marketed in Europe according to the general provisions of the Cosmetics Regulation of the European Union.

Link to the EU Cosmetic Regulation:

More Scientific Information

Cocoa Seed Butter is one of the most stable fats known and contains natural antioxidants that prevent rancidity. In cosmetics and personal care products, Cocoa Seed Butter functions as a skin conditioning agent – occlusive. It is also an approved skin protectant in OTC skin protectant products. In naming plants, botanists use a Latin name made up of the genus and species of the plant.

For example, under this system cocoa is known as Theobromo cacao L., where “L. ” stands Linnaeus, the person who first described the type of plant specimen. Plants are also known by a common name that has been handed down through generations. These common names may vary from country to country.

Therefore, Latin names, which are more likely to be recognized in many countries, are frequently used on the label of a product to identify an ingredient made from plants.


Find out more about the regulation of Over-the-Counter drugs by the Food and Drug Administration OTC Drug Home Page:…

Information about OTC Drug monographs:

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Food Contact Substances:

Substances Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS):

Search the Code of Federal Regulations

EU Cosmetics Inventory