Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hot Chocolate Beauty and Confidence for Spring

A Cocoa Chronicle Vignette

As winter gives way to warm, the appearance of hot chocolate beverages wanes, giving way to lighter options or those that refresh. But, ubiquitous for its myriad benefits, health properties, flavor and overall constitution, hot chocolate is now turning up in surprising places for use in unexpected applications.

From hot chocolate massage to chocolate facials, mani/pedis, chocolate is among the hottest ingredients in professional beauty products. In all of its forms, dark, milk, white and even the butter of the cocoa bean (cocoa butter), chocolate infusions are giving tried and true beauty techniques an aromatic and decadent lift. 

According to (, chocolate's beauty enhancing properties include:

Skin Softener
  • The skin softening properties of chocolate comes directly from its major content, the cocoa butter. Chocolate is extremely rejuvenating for your skin and refreshes the skin. It has turned out to be an excellent beauty ingredient and is being heavily used in beauty care treatments for its skin softening ingredients. It is an exceptional natural moisturizer which makes your skin soft and supple.
Smooths Wrinkles
  • The anti-oxidants also known as anti-aging allies in dark chocolate helps to avoid and prevents the free radicals from damaging the skin’s elastin, collagen and various other proteins. Therefore, chocolate is used in various beauty treatments to smooth out the wrinkles.
Reduces Scars and Stretch Marks
  • The fat content in cocoa butter is made of high quality linoleic acid which gives chocolates the ability to diminish fine lines, and reduce the appearance of scars and stretch marks. Chocolaty treatments help the skin to gradually regain its lost elasticity and aids in getting back one's youthful glow. Chocolate cures also protect the skin from the harmful effects of sun exposure and pollution.
Exfoliates and Nourishes
  • Application of chocolate has amazing results. It nourishes the skin while sloughing off dead skin cells. Chocolate based beauty cures help to revitalize the skin.
Finally, according to [1], chocolate stimulates the release of serotonin, a hormone that can induce feelings of peace and well being, a perfect touch for any spa or salon treatment.

More, according to :

Chocolate has appeared as an ingredient in beauty and body products since the mid-1800s, when beauty manufacturers discovered the skin softening benefits of cocoa butter. ...It's only recently, however, chocolate's benefits as a body treatment have started to undergo scientific investigation, thanks in part to scientists' discovery that consumption of chocolate can have health benefits for some people...[1].

After learning about the beauty benefits of chocolates, I was eager to experience chocolate beauty care. I noticed one such novelty--at least it was new to me--as part of a Living Social "deal" for a Hot Chocolate waxing treatment, offered at a New York City salon.

After a historically long winter spent covered-up in pants, my mid-calf-lengthed puffer coat, tights and hose, the notion of a wax treatment, with spring and summer fast approaching, seemed ideal. And a treatment -- or anything else for that matter -- that included chocolate, well, all the better. I purchased the "deal", without giving it a second thought. Discounted from $40 to about $20, I thought, if nothing else it would make for a fun tale for these, my Hot Cocoa Chronicles. But after the experience, I am pleased to say without reservation, I came away with so much more.

The salon, though not super upscale, was modern, organized and solidly appointed with things like flat-screen entertainment, luxury armchairs for pedicure and massage, nice quality and range of nail colors, and tidy and orderly treatment rooms. Clean, scrubbed with just the right amount of luxury, the salon was decorated in shades of orange, and was relaxed and comfortable. I would definitely go back for repeat and new services.

The staff and beauticians were pleasant and professional. Lisa, my very respectable, mature, beautician, who I guessed to be of Eastern European descent, definitely hooked me up!

It was my first time for a wax, but Lisa immediately put me at ease, and I remained so throughout the entire treatment. She answered my very many questions and gave great information, sharing the features and benefits of the product, chocolate wax, in a way that demonstrated her knowledge and inspired confidence.
In the treatment room, there was a kettle of molten, liquid chocolate that looked fondue-ready, complete with skewer-esque, tongue depressor-like applicators, which seemed to be just asking for marshmallows, strawberries or other tasty, drenchable morsels. Tempted to dip my finger in the waxy goo, I was called back to the task at hand when Lisa knocked, then entered the room, ready to get to work.

Flat on my back, staring at the ceiling, she went to work applying and ripping strips away. As she worked, she told me how chocolate wax was great for sensitive skin, and particularly skin of color, given its all natural qualities. This had been among the attributes of the treatment that drew me to the offer in the first place.

The product she used on this day also contained almond oil, ingredients which, together, were said to minimize redness and irritation and fully leverage the anti-inflammatory qualities of the cocoa bean. Wax infused with chocolate is also reported to offer less discomfort and a more pleasant aroma, adding to the overall sense of decadence. More, hot chocolate for waxing leaves little to no residue. For a bikini waxing procedural 101, click to learn more.

I felt I was in good hands the whole way. Lisa and I gabbed about: relationships, love and marriage; men, both, good and bad; love gone wrong and divorce. She was totally genuine, endearing and inspiring of, like the shop's name, confidence. When you're bearing it all getting waxed, confidence means a lot. Our conversation was a diversion, but Lisa's sharing added another layer of disclosure to the experience that made it memorable.

Now, perhaps, I'm making more of this than it was, (we writers tend to do that) but after a long winter, this California girl came away feeling rejuvenated, more open, ready for spring and to interact with the world. Not speaking sexually or being facetious -- it's not like I'll go streaking through Times Square orMid-town showing off "my work" to strangers -- but rather, I felt the protective boundaries created to weather the harshness of winter have permeated my psyche and anatomy until now. This experience however, has worked to exfoliate much of the facade that distanced me from the elements, the world, and people around me.

The inter-personal exchange, my vulnerability through the process and the pealing away of superfice, quite literally as well as metaphorically, have ushered in a new season of openness and hope. In a few words, it's given me a new "confidence."

Yes, spring, with all of its chocolaty goodness, has arrived in New York!

RECIPE: At-Home Chocolate Face Mask

If you can’t wait for the next Living Social or Groupon offer, and a chocolate wax or spa treatment is not in your budget, you might want to give a try to this at-home option for a chocolate mask, from [1]. To make the experience more luxurious, throw on a plush robe and slippers, turn-up your favorite music, and sip a cup of cocoa, hot or chilled chocolate dessert tea, like Tea Forte's Belgian Mint, or Coco Truffle,  Even a glass of champagne if you're really feeling indulgent will melt away any residual winter frost. After, you too, will be ready for spring in no time.

  • Mask Ingredients: 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/4 cup honey, two tbsp. heavy cream and three tsp. of oatmeal powder. Blend ingredients until well mixed. Apply gently to your face with a massaging motion so the oatmeal can exfoliate your dead skin cells. After 20 minutes, rinse your face with lukewarm water.

© 2011 Valerie Williams-Sanchez. All rights reserved.

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