Remember the teen years, when chocolate meant sugar meant zits meant caked-on cover-up? Get ready to laugh in chocolate’s face, (and then consume it wildly like some mythical monster out of Lord of the Rings.) Now chocolate (can be) good for us! Okay, perchance not in the way of Willy Wonka-style gorge-fests swimming in chocolate lakes or stuffing éclairs down our throats. But the sweet stuff is better for your skin than you may think.
And why is chocolate awesome, besides the fact that it’s a scientific fact that women who consume it regularly have a better sex life? One study showed that women who ate chocolate had “the highest levels of desire, arousal and satisfaction from sex.” (In your face, broccoli!) But as any nutritionist will tell you, dark chocolate is stocked full of antioxidants that are great for your skin. And the darker the chocolate, the higher the levels of the good stuff. This means you have to chow down on the dark stuff – as in, 35 percent cocoa – to get the benefits. Unfortunately, the only benefits milk or white chocolate are going to give you is a sugar high.
So why is dark chocolate so magical? First, the nutritional aspects of chocolate are going to rock your skin. Its high levels of antioxidants help to protect your skin’s collagen, which will help to keep you looking younger, sweeter, and healthier. Mauro Serafini, PhD, works with Italy’s National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research in Rome. As Dr. Serafini reports, “antioxidants gobble up free radicals, destructive molecules that are implicated in heart disease and other ailments.”
Second, you don’t have to actually eat it to get the benefits. (Though, of course, why wouldn’t you?) Chocolate contains cocoa butter, which is extremely softening to the skin and can be an effective anti-inflammatory. Some chocolates contain Shea butter, which is also a great moisturizer. Another study showed the topical application of cocoa plant extracts prevented wrinkles from forming in lab rats exposed to ultraviolet light.
This means one thing – we can smear chocolate all over our faces and justify it in the name of beauty, not because we’re having some kind of weird Joan Crawford-style breakdown! Check out this fun recipe for a chocolate facial which is softening and exfoliating.
One organic dark chocolate bar (Make sure it is at least 35 percent cocoa.)
5 tablespoons of salt
2 tablespoons of oatmeal
1/5 cup organic milk
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, letting it cool until it is pleasantly warm. Mix salt and milk in another bowl. Combine all ingredients. Work into your face with circular motions, allowing it to harden. Turn on Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory while resisting the urge to eat your face. Wash off with warm water.
Image: peter pearson