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A Chocolate Lover’s Dream Come True: Using Chocolate To Treat Acne

By Megan Griffith

Reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr. Jaggi Rao,
MD, FRCPC Double board-certified dermatologist

Since the moment your first pimple popped up on your face, everyone started telling you that chocolate was out of the question now. No more candy bars, no more chocolate cake or pies. Chocolate ice cream was a thing of the past. Don’t even think about chocolate chip cookies. And they were right. They knew there was something going on; that there was a connection between chocolate and breakouts1. What they didn’t know was that the chocolate wasn’t the problem2. The milk fats, oil and other greasy ingredients that make milk chocolate and processed cocoa, were the problem. Fortunately, that has been figured out and now, back to chocolate!

Cocoa Beans
Skip the milk chocolate. Go pure, dark chocolate or cocoa.

What We Know Now

Cocoa3 is packed with an amazing amount of antioxidants. Today’s skin needs those antioxidants more than ever with all of the pollutants in the air. Antioxidants rid the skin and body of cancer causing free-radicals4 by providing the stabilizing oxygen atom they need. Chocolate to the rescue5!

Chocolate also contains tryptophan6, which is an amino acid that promotes the release of serotonin7. Tryptophan creates a feeling of euphoria and it’s tryptophan that is thought to be released when we perceive the feeling of love. Serotonin is thought to be a mood regulator and is what causes feelings of happiness and contentment8. Cocoa in powder form can also act as a bit of an exfoliator and scrub away dead skin cells to smooth the skin.


When cocoa is in its rawest form, it’s at its highest level of potency. Processing cocoa into cocoa powder and chocolate can lessen the efficacy of this amazing little bean, but if done properly, there is still plenty of power left to greatly and positively affect the skin of both acne sufferers and clear-skinned individuals alike9.

Alternatively, when cocoa is not processed correctly, is over-processed or is filled with ingredients such as milk fat or sugar to change the taste, cocoa can become quite benign. And it’s this type of chocolate that those with acne must avoid.

Luckily, cocoa that is processed correctly is available and can be used for more than just cooking. Chocolate and cocoa can be used for skin care products as well. There is a brand of makeup called To Faced that even uses cocoa in their products… and they smell so good. They offer blushes, bronzers and eyeshadows with cocoa in them. So how do you find skin care products with chocolate in them, you ask? Easy, go to the grocery store.

Treats And Treatments

If you suffer from acne, there is a pretty good chance that you’ve tried all kinds of healing methods ranging from prescription medications, to commercial treatments like Proactiv, to DIY at home remedies. Cocoa goes on the list for home remedies and it is so worth it. Getting cocoa that is processed correctly may seem pricey at first but when you consider the cost of prescriptions and commercial skin care lines, it’s really not expensive at all. Go grab some but make sure to do your research on what brands are processed correctly.

Whip up these recipes that use cocoa to treat acne. They work really fantastic because they also include other ingredients that help to treat acne as well, such as oatmeal for its moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties, heavy cream for lactic acid, and lemon for antibacterials.

Chocolate Cream Dream Mask

  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons of heavy cream (sour creek or plain Greek yogurt work just as well)
  • 3 teaspoons of oatmeal powder (put oatmeal in the food processor and grind until it’s a powder)


Mix all the ingredients until the mass is consistent. Apply on the face, gently massaging it so that oatmeal can start exfoliating the dead skin cell layer (See more about oatmeal masks here). Leave it on for about 15 to 20 minutes and rinse off with lukewarm water.

It’s that easy. And sure, if you really wanted to, you could even eat it.

There are many things you can use for any chocolate mask. Here are just a few you can add for more targeted results…

Added Benefits

  • 2-3 teaspoons turmeric – for a boost of antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
  • 1/8 cup crushed blueberries – amp up the antioxidants
  • 1 teaspoon crushed mint – use for deep cooling while treating acne and to fight inflammation
  • 1/8 cup crushed raspberries – antioxidants and helps skin tone; lighten spots left from acne
  • ½ of a banana smashed – suffocates bacteria

Have Your Treatment And Eat It Too

Now that you have some great ideas for topical uses for chocolate, it’s probably a fact that you’d like to eat some too. If you’re not big on eating your facial mask then try adding cocoa to your food. From savory to sweet, chocolate adds a unique flavor to almost anything and the benefits are endless.

  • Put a couple of tablespoons in your smoothie
  • Sprinkle cocoa on fruit salads and raw fruits such as bananas, strawberries and peaches
  • Still drinking coffee? Try to stop that but if you must, add a teaspoon of cocoa in with it
  • Almond milk and coconut milk are luscious with cocoa
  • Try cocoa in entrée’s for a “mole’ ” taste
  • If you love to eat it, or drink it, try it with cocoa sprinkled in

Now that you know all these benefits of chocolate, not only can you be guilt-free while eating it (remember we’re not talking milk chocolate here but a purer, more natural dark chocolate or cocoa), you can prepare an excellent chocolate face mask recipe to nourish your skin and give you a beautiful, youthful look.
No more running away from it. Run TO it! The results just might astound you, and you don’t even have to call it a guilty pleasure anymore. It’s a healthy pleasure, and your skin and body will thank you.


  1. DO Gregory R. Delost, Maria E. Delost, PhDb, Jenifer Lloyd, DO, The impact of chocolate consumption on acne vulgaris in college students: A randomized crossover study. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. July 2016Volume 75, Issue 1, Pages 220–222
  2. Caperton C, Block S, Viera M, Keri J, Berman B. Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study Assessing the Effect of Chocolate Consumption in Subjects with a History of Acne Vulgaris. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014 May;7(5):19-23.
  3. Katz DL, Doughty K, Ali A. Cocoa and chocolate in human health and disease. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2011 Nov 15;15(10):2779-811.
  4. Mogollon JA, Boivin C, Lemieux S, Blanchet C, Claveau J, Dodin S. Chocolate flavanols and skin photoprotection: a parallel, double-blind, randomized clinical trial. Nutr J. 2014 Jun 27;13:66.
  5. Scapagnini G, Davinelli S, Di Renzo L, De Lorenzo A, Olarte HH, Micali G, Cicero AF, Gonzalez S. Cocoa bioactive compounds: significance and potential for the maintenance of skin health. Nutrients. 2014 Aug 11;6(8):3202-13.
  6. Friedman M. Analysis, Nutrition, and Health Benefits of Tryptophan. Int J Tryptophan Res. 2018 Sep 26;11:1178646918802282.
  7. Silva NR. Chocolate Consumption and Effects on Serotonin Synthesis. Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(17):1608–1609.
  8. Scholey A, Owen L. Effects of chocolate on cognitive function and mood: a systematic review. Nutr Rev. 2013 Oct;71(10):665-81.
  9. Di Mattia CD, Sacchetti G, Mastrocola D, Serafini M. From Cocoa to Chocolate: The Impact of Processing on In Vitro Antioxidant Activity and the Effects of Chocolate on Antioxidant Markers In Vivo. Front Immunol. 2017 Sep 29;8:1207.
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