Thursday, January 7, 2016

Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula

Winter is crocodile season, the crocodile being me. I mean, I sport dry skin year-round without heavy moisturizing, but cold weather brings extra scaliness to the picture--that means ramping up my body care products with extra hydration. One brand I've introduced recently into my routine to de-crocodile is Palmer's, and my legs have been feeling much smoother since.

Palmer's is best known for their Cocoa Butter Formula products; I remember using their Dark Chocolate & Peppermint Lip Butter while still in university (back before my sensitive lips could no longer tolerate mint) and loving the decadent, chocolatey scent. Years later, that scent is giving me major nostalgia through the Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Soothing Oil, Body Lotion, and Moisturizing Body Oil.

Let's get one thing out of the way first: cocoa butter is sometimes thought of as being able to relieve the appearance of stretch marks and scars, particularly in relation to pregnancy (note the pregnant-lady silhouette on the Soothing Oil bottle). I have not found any evidence that cocoa butter can prevent or relieve stretch marks (double-blind study), nor does any topical product, in fact. What cocoa butter is really great at though, is acting as an emollient to soften and soothe the skin, which is what I need. We've all got stretch marks of some kind (thanks puberty!), so who cares.

Winter sucks. Note the patch of eczema in the upper left area
Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Daily Lotion comes in a white, flip-top bottle and curiously enough, does not actually name itself on the bottle (I confirmed the product name on the Palmer's website). This is a thick, buttery-yellow lotion that contains other heavy-duty emollients and occlusives: coconut oil, mineral oil, petrolatum, glyceryl stearate, and palm oil. (Palm oil, by the way, is a somewhat controversial economic and social issue, and I wonder if this is why it is identified only as Elaeis guineesis oil in the ingredients list, without the common/layman name. Other ingredients in the product, such as coconut oil, have both the scientific and common name listed.) Of all the three products I received, this one is my favourite because it's the most moisturizing. Yes, it is very rich and looks heavy, but my dry legs totally drink it up. My legs feel super smooth even if I don't apply it every day or after every shower.

It is also listed as being "suitable for eczema prone skin", which I would agree with. Again, there are a lot of solid emollients and occluives in this product that will help protect a dry, sensitive skin barrier. Assuming your eczema is not sensitive to some of the ingredients (dimethicone or added fragrance, for example), you might really like this.

Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Moisturizing Body Oil and Cocoa Butter Formula Soothing Oil kind of look like they'd be the same product in different packaging, but they do have some differences: Moisturizing Body Oil uses soybean, sesame seed, and safflower seed oils, in addition to cocoa butter, to moisturize the skin, while spray-nozzled Soothing Oil uses canola and sesame seed oils, as well as hydrolyzed collagen, elastin, and keratin. Presumably Soothing Oil has a lighter formula that facilitates spray application compared to Moisturizing Body Oil, but I honestly didn't notice a difference in texture or skin-smoothness between the two. Palmer's recommends using them on damp skin right after a shower, but they work just fine on dry skin as well.

Soothing Oil's spray format seems like it would be convenient, but personally I don't like having to spritz my moisturizer on. I spray it while sitting on the edge of the tub (facing inwards), because otherwise any spray that doesn't hit skin could land on clothes/carpet/furniture/whatever is in my immediate vicinity. For that reason, I'd rather use Moisturizing Body Oil, if I had to choose between the two. You have to rub in the product with your hands anyway, unless you want to awkwardly rub your arms and legs together to apply it, haha. Bonus: Moisturizing Body Oil is multi-purpose, since it can also be used to create a hydrating bath by adding a capful or two while the faucet is running. I don't take baths myself but it sounds like a rather nice way to de-crocodile.

In order of preference, it's Daily Lotion, Moisturizing Body Oil, and then the Soothing Oil for me. They all absorb into my skin fairly quickly, but the Daily Lotion has more hydrating and moisture-locking ingredients, which is better suited to my super-dry legs. I also prefer the thicker texture of the Daily Lotion: it's more travel-friendly and easier to apply, whereas the oils can dribble all over my skin. (Moisturizing Body Oil, in particular, leaked quite a bit after I removed the safety seal and then toted it to my brother's house. Luckily I'm paranoid about that kind of thing and also bagged it by itself in plastic bag before putting it in with the rest of my stuff.)

If you're on the lookout for something to help beat extra-dry skin caused by winter weather without breaking the bank, the Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula line is worth a look. Cocoa butter is an excellent emollient for smoothing the skin. You should especially be checking it out if you love products with a confectionery scent, as all the products have a sweet, chocolate-y, cocoa fragrance. The scent is not overly sweet, nor is it particularly strong, but it does linger on the skin--I think it might even layer nicely with perfumes that have cozy notes like vanilla or caramel.

Available at Shoppers Drug Mart, Superstore, Walmart: ~$5-6 CAD; 250 ml for Daily Lotion and Moisturizing Body Oil), 150 ml for Soothing Oil

Body Lotion ingredients: water, Theobroma cacao (cocoa) extract, glyceryl stearate, petrolatum, propylene glycol, glycerin, Cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, mineral oil (paraffinum liquidum), Theobroma cacoa (cocoa) seed  better, Elaeis guineensis oil, cetyl alcohol, dimethicone, tocopheryl acetate, hydroxyethylcellulose, PEG-8 stearate, behentrimonium methosulfate, butylene glycol, stearalkonium chloride, cellulose, sodium acetate, fragrance (parfum), phenoxyethanol, sorbic acid, benzoic acid, stearyl alcohol, myristyl alcohol, Yellow 5 (CI 19140), Orange 4 (CI 15510), benzyl alcohol

Moisturizing Body Oil ingredients: Glycine soja (soybean) oil, isopropyl myristate, Sesamum indicum (sesame) seed oil, Carthamus tinctorius (safflower) seed oil, PEG-40 sorbitan peroleate, Theobroma cacao (Cocoa) seed butter, tocopheryl acetate, fragrance (parfum), benzophenone-3, benzyl alcohol, BHA, beta-carotene (CI 40800)

Soothing Oil ingredients: canola oil, isopropyl myristate, phenyl trimethicone, Theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter, tocopherol acetate, cocoyl hydrolyzed elastin, cocoyl hydrolyzed keratin, cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen, fragrance (parfum), sorbitan oleate, isostearic acid, lecithin, butyl stearate, Sesamum indicum (sesame) seed oil, oleoyl sarcosine, citronellol, coumarin, geraniol, lanolin alcohol, Zea mays (corn) oil, beta carotene (CI 40800)

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