Ruth Griffin: Choc-a-block beauty
Forget your waistline - chocolate is a super booster for mature skin
Given the holiday that's in it, this week I'm taking beauty inspiration from the piles of Easter eggs lying around the house, waiting to get cracked open tomorrow, and bringing you some delicious chocolate-based cosmetics.
While it may seem like a gimmick, study after study has shown that, actually, dark chocolate and cocoa butter are both brilliant health and skin boosters - especially beneficial for very dry and/or mature skin.
I'm all for the 'inside out, outside in', 360-degree, 'you are what you eat' approach to beauty - so I'm especially delighted that dark chocolate is not only good for you to eat, but it is fantastic to smear cocoa butter, also derived from the cacao bean, on your skin. The ultimate delicious-tasting beauty multi-tasker (and tastier than kale, for sure!).
This yummy skincare ingredient is jam-packed with minerals like zinc, copper, manganese and iron, and bursting with good fats and antioxidants (polyphenols and flavanols).
It's even been proven to boost our brain activity (always welcome with me) and mood. I'm sold!
I hope you all have a lovely Easter weekend.
● Mousse mask
This mask may look like a delicious whipped mousse fit for dessert, but it is in fact an all-natural skin booster! Using chocolate with macadamia nut oil, almond and jojoba oil as well as vitamin E, this is a gem of a skin hydrator. Éminence Chocolate Mousse Masque, €58, from eminence.ie and selected spas
● Delicious body mousse
Handmade in Ireland, Roza is free of silicone, parabens, EDTA (a preservative made from formaldehyde), synthetic SLS and chemicals. This chocolate-based moisturiser is excellent for massaging into hands, feet, elbows and knees. Roza Moisturizing Body Mousse Coconut and Chocolate, €18, rozanaturalcosmetics.com
● Pout perfector
For all you choc lovers, a slick of lip balm from the American chocolate cult favourite may help keep the cravings at bay! Hershey's Chocolate Lip Balm, €1.70, Debenhams nationwide
It's not a myth that we do in fact eat a lot of our lip products - so if you're worried about some of the ingredients you're consuming, try an all-natural lip colour that is 100pc ingestible. This is a lovely brown/apricot/honey tone - Antipodes Lipstick Queenstown in Hot Chocolate, €12.90, from health food stores nationwide
For a chocolate-inspired mani good enough to eat, try Dolce & Gabbana's Nail Lacquer in Chocolate, €24.90, from harrods.com. Alternatively, a more springtime option is the nude/minky brown-toned Essie Clothing Optional Dry Clay Nude 497, ¤9.99, from Boots and pharmacies nationwide
● Chocolate-toned peepers
This Too Faced Chocolate Bar Eye Shadow Palette, €47, allows you to try every caramel and rich dark cocoa colour you could wish for. From Debenhams stores nationwide and debenhams.ie
It's official: our favourite treat is good for us! Study after study proves that chocolate is great for our heart, brain, mood and skin. The key to garnering all the health benefits from chocolate is to opt for the dark stuff - 70pc is optimal - as the milk and sugar added to other types of chocolate actually undermine the health benefits. It works from the inside out and the outside in, as cocoa butter is a brilliant natural beauty booster when used topically (see right).
Bathe in chocolate
Are you a total chocoholic? Love it so much you fancy actually bathing in the stuff - Cadbury Cleopatra style? Well, you're in luck! Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa in Co Cork has rolled out its Enriching Chocolate Bath treatment (¤40), where you can unwind in a silky combination of warm water and rich chocolate cream. The active ingredients in the cocoa promise to stimulate the senses and promote a sense of wellbeing. Inchydoney also offers a Sensual Chocolate Body Wrap (¤50), which is said to help de-stress. For more, see inchydoneyisland.com or call (023) 883 3143.
Proven benefits of cocoa butter beauty...
● Chocolate is brimming with useful minerals such as zinc, copper, manganese and iron, which help with energy levels, hair growth and skin repair, when eaten.
● Cocoa is high in flavanols (antioxidant types found particularly in cocoa), which are known skin smoothers.
● It's good for your heart - various studies have shown how it can increase good cholesterol (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol (LDL) when ingested.
● Applied topically, cocoa butter makes an excellent skin moisturiser. Actually, it does more than just hydrate the skin - it helps heal it from the inside out! It's a great source of natural antioxidants and saturated fats that are especially beneficial for healing dry, cracked skin.
● Fights visible skin ageing because it's full of polyphenols (another type of antioxidant).
● Can protect against skin sensitivities and degeneration and may boost collagen production and retention.
● Soothes burns and rashes.
● Works as a great shaving cream.
● Heals chapped lips and mouth blisters.
● Acts as an SPF - the flavanols in chocolate help shield our skin from the sun's rays and reduce the severity of burns, meaning it has a slight SPF!
● Stimulates blood flow to our brain, boosting our mood.
● Chocolate locks
For a rich shine and a delicious-smelling barnet, lather on Faith in Nature Chocolate Shampoo, €7.99, from health food stores nationwide (currently reduced to €3.99 in Holland & Barrett stores nationwide)