Difference between Shea Butter and Cocoa Butter

shea butter vs cocoa butter

With the passage of time, more and more people are going towards veganism. Being vegan is healthy, nutritious and enriching. This shift is not just seen in one’s diet but also in their way of living. People have started using vegan cosmetics because they are now not in the favor of putting harsh chemicals on their skin. A few of the most important products that people use in their daily life are shea butter and cocoa butter. The good news about both of these products is that they are both vegan (you can look for Cocoa Butter’s Vegan status with us).

Which is Better: Shea Butter or Cocoa Butter?

What is Cocoa Butter? – Cocoa butter is also called theobroma oil and is a very popular choice amongst the people who want to shift towards veganism. It is pale yellow in color and is not just used as a cream but also for making chocolates, ointments, various toiletries and bath and body products.

What is Shea Butter? – Shea butter comes from the karite and is naturally ivory in color. The processed versions of the butter are of white color. It can be used as a moisturizer, salve and even as a lotion.


Cocoa Butter is better than Shea Butter because, it has more the healing and enhancing qualities as compared to Shea Butter. So, which one to use, shea butter or cocoa butter? Both the products have a large number of skin benefits because they are vegan and contain fatty acids which retain moisture.

They have their own pros and cons and there is no one specific answer to which one is better. Cocoa butter has a pleasant smell while the smell of shea butter is much less attractive. The decision of cocoa butter vs shea butter solely lies on you. There are various benefits of cocoa butter and shea butter especially because both of them are wonderful substitutes of inorganic creams.

Is Shea Butter the same as Cocoa Butter?

They are not the same because shea butter is the fat that is extracted from the nuts of the shea tree while cocoa butter is the fat that comes from the cocoa beans. Both of them are used for highly different purposes and under distinct circumstances.

How are they similar?

Both of these products are used to moisturize and nourish dry skin, nothing beats creamy shea butter and cocoa butter. They are derived from trees and are highly vegan in nature. Cocoa butter comes from the fruits of the cacao tree, while shea butter comes from the shea tree. They are both dairy free. They come in solidified form and melt on the body because of natural heat. They help in production of collagen by the skin and are extensively used as a beauty tool. They reduce age spots, and make your skin look younger and fresher.

But despite these similarities, there are a lot of differences between these two ingredients. Let’s look into the dissimilarities between the two.

Shea Butter Versus Cocoa Butter

Cocoa Butter Versus Shea Butter

Both these products are often interchangeably used. However, there exists a stark comparison between the two. A few of the differences are listed below:

1. Origin

The basic difference between the two can stems out of the origins of the butters. Both of these are plant products but it is essential to know that cocoa butter is an extract of cocoa beans which are the seeds of the cacao tree while the shea butter is extracted from the nuts of the shea tree. Shea tree only grows in Africa and the cacao tree is a native of the South and Central America.

2. Appearance and Aroma

Unrefined shea butter has a nutty scent while the unrefined cocoa butter has a strong chocolatey scent. When both of these butters are refined, they smell quite different. Refined cocoa butter has a very minimum scent and refined shea butter does not have any odor.

The refined shea butter has less nutritional value because high level of additives is used for refining it. With this property, you can use it for your homemade deodorant to have an odor free natural smell. Various stores sell refined shea butter at a higher rate by calling it Russia butter. But the reality is that the Russia butter has a nutty scent which is not preferred by many.

3. Acne, Eczema and Stretch Marks

Every person faces acne issues and people are always looking for a fix for the same. Shea butter is a good fix for acne prone skin because cocoa butter tends to be oilier at times. Shea butter is famous for dermatological problems, such as eczema and when one has to decide about shea butter vs cocoa butter for stretch marks, shea butter must be used as cocoa butter tends to clog the skin.

When one needs a fix for scars and a dilemma exists for cocoa butter or shea butter for scars, shea butter seems to be the ideal choice because it does not stick to the skin. There are several vegan versions of cosmetic products that has cocoa butter as well as shea butter in it, like Vaseline. So, you can decide whether to use products like Vaseline or products with ingredients like cocoa butter and shea butter. You can check whether Vaseline is vegan or not on our Vegan FAQs section.

4. Skin Protection and Healing Benefits

Cocoa butter contains a high level of antioxidants which helps in neutralizing free radicals formed on the skin because of cell metabolism. Damaged skin cells are prevalent because of high number of radicals and cocoa butter removes them. At the same time, shea butter helps in maintaining a glowing and clear skin. Some brands like Bath & Body Works uses both the ingredients in one product to give a better experience. But, is Bath & Body works brand vegan? You can check it in this article.

One must not think about shea butter vs cocoa butter for dark spots, shea butter is the best choice for spots as it helps in skin lightening. Both the products have excellent healing qualities with regards to chapped lips, wrinkles, age spots etc and shea butter is highly recognized for the same. There are several best vegan foundations where cocoa butter and shea butter is used to protect your skin and make it glow.

5. Shelf Life

Shelf life of cocoa butter is way more than that of shea butter and this is why it is slightly more expensive. Cocoa butter can be used till five years while shea butter has a shelf life of one to two years only. Shea butter can lose its effectiveness with time and storing the same in the refrigerator is not a mandate.


Before making the final decision, one must know that both of them have similar properties but are used for different purposes. They are natural, organic and vegan but if your skin is not acne prone and isn’t oily, go for cocoa butter and if your skin needs a treatment for acne and rashes, shea butter will be the best fix!

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