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Mango Butter vs Shea Butter and Cocoa Butter

Mango Butter vs Shea Butter and Cocoa Butter

Many skincare products make use of some type of natural butter, whether that be mango, shea, cocoa or something else. But, what are the differences between all of these options?

And, more importantly, which one will work for your needs?

This post examines mango butter vs shea butter and cocoa butter to highlight their differences, similarities and when you might use them.

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Mango Butter

Mango butter or cocoa butter

Mango butter is created from mango kernels, not from the fruit. As a result, the butter only has a subtle mango scent, which is mostly unnoticeable. This makes it perfect for many recipes.

General Properties

Mango butter can be considered a medium texture butter. It is a little softer than cocoa butter but it is harder than many other types.

The butter is a non-comedogenic product. As such, it doesn’t block the pores of your skin and doesn’t make your skin more oily. Mango butter is also soothing, helps to firm the skin and to decrease dryness.

The butter has a shelf life of around two years.

Nutrients and Fatty Acids

Estimates of fatty acid content vary dramatically. They’re also best as a rough guide, as the exact proportions can depend on many factors. For mango butter, the general averages are:

  • Stearic Acid: 42%
  • Oleic Acid: 46%
  • Palmitic Acid: 6%
  • Linoleic Acid: 3%

Types

Mango butter can be refined or unrefined. Refinement removes some of the scent and color to create a white product. This version is popular in recipes but refined mango butter may offer fewer benefits.

In particular, the unrefined product contains significant amounts of unsaponifiable matter (components that do not form soaps). This part of the mango butter may offer more moisturizing benefits, making unrefined a much better choice.

Look for terms like raw and unrefined to find natural mango butter.

Uses

Mango butter can be used in soap making, often making up 15% (or less) of the total oil in the recipe. Larger quantities can make the soap brittle.

The texture makes mango butter a poor choice for whipping. However, you can still do this if you melt the butter first and whip it as it cools. The following recipes rely on mango butter as a key ingredient.

Buying Mango Butter

There are many options for mango butter on the market, but the following items are good examples.

Mango butter works well in recipes and can be used on its own as well

Shea Butter

Shea butter

Shea butter is an extremely popular skin product. It has powerful moisturizing properties and is also very easy to use.

The butter is created from the vitellaria or shea tree from Africa. You’ll find shea butter in many commercial products and also in countless skincare recipes.

The shelf life is roughly one year.

General Properties

Shea butter is softer than mango or cocoa butter, making it easier to use. It melts at around 90°F and upon skin contact.

Shea butter is associated with many benefits, such as reducing inflammation and treating rashes. It is also moisturizing and helps to improve the appearance of the skin.

Another advantage is that shea butter is easily absorbed. Because it doesn’t contain much water, the butter won’t dehydrate your skin either. 

Nutrients and Fatty Acids

Shea butter contains a range of antioxidants, along with vitamins A and E. These compounds are all important in skin health and help provide moisturization.

While fatty acid composition varies, the averages for shea butter are as follows:

  • Stearic Acid: 35-45%
  • Oleic Acid: 40-55%
  • Palmitic Acid: 3-7%
  • Linoleic Acid: 3-8%

Types of Shea Butter

As always, there are refined and unrefined versions of shea butter. The unrefined version has a slightly darker appearance and contains more nonsaponifiable components. It also has a mild nutty scent.

Raw shea butter is also edible, but most people don't cook with it. The main reason is simply that the butter doesn't taste very good. Besides, there are plenty of other healthy fats out there. 

Unrefined shea butter will sometimes have visible impurities – but not always. Companies can get around this by passing the soap through a strainer. The process is mechanical, so strained shea butter is still considered unrefined.

Refined shea butter uses chemicals to decrease the scent and make production more efficient. As a result, refined shea butter tends to be less expensive. The butter is also smoother and odorless.

How to Use Shea Butter

Shea butter is much easier to use on its own than either mango or cocoa butter. Unrefined shea butter melts on contact with your skin and you can apply it directly. It is also considered an intense moisturizer – making it relevant for many different uses,

The softness also makes shea butter perfect in recipes for creams and for whipping. The recipes below are some examples and there are many others out there too.

Buying Shea Butter

Shea butter is present in countless products and some local stores may sell unrefined shea butter.

Shea butter is a versatile product, working well in recipes or on its own

Cocoa Butter

Cocoa butter

Not surprisingly, cocoa butter is created from cacao fruit – the same fruits that we make chocolate from. The butter is also edible and is sometimes used in cooking, although that’s not our focus today.

The shelf life is roughly two years.

General Properties

Cocoa butter tends to be firm, with a chocolatey scent. It melts at around 95°F to 98°F and tends to be both hard and brittle at room temperature.

The butter typically won’t melt upon skin contact. However, small pieces may melt because of their surface area ratio.

Cocoa butter is high in vitamin E and contains antioxidants as well. Both aspects make it powerful for hydrating and soothing the skin.

Nutrients and Fatty Acids

Once again, the fatty acid percentages can vary. But, the composition of cocoa butter can look like this:

  • Stearic Acid: 31-35%
  • Oleic Acid: 34-36%
  • Palmitic Acid: 25-30%
  • Linoleic Acid: 3%

This is a more even distribution than shea or mango butter and includes a higher proportion of palmitic acid.

Types of Cocoa Butter

The main types are cocoa butter (unrefined) and deodorized cocoa butter (refined). There are also cocoa butter pastilles, but these are simply smaller pieces of cocoa butter. 

Regular cocoa butter has an off-white color and maintains the chocolate-like aroma. That aroma is normally desirable, although it may not suit all recipes.

Deodorization is a refinement process that removes much of this aroma, resulting in a white product. As always, refinement makes the butter more versatile but may reduce some of the benefits.

How to Use Cocoa Butter

Cocoa butter is a common choice for adding firmness to skincare recipes and it is also a thickening agent. The butter is a common way to treat stretch marks as well. The recipes below all use cocoa butter and are great for inspiration:

Buying Cocoa Butter

Once again, there are many places to buy cocoa butter and plenty of products. If you’re focusing on skincare, you don’t need cocoa butter that is considered food grade. But, it’s important to focus on unrefined products like the ones below.

Cocoa butter can be a little hard to use but it works well in recipes and offers skin care benefits

Mango Butter vs Shea Butter vs Cocoa Butter

Homemade spa products

If we compare them side-to-side, the properties of the various butters look like this:

Swipe left to view more columns:

Mango Butter

Shea Butter

Cocoa Butter

Comparative Hardness

Moderate

Softest

Hardest

Melting Temperature

Around 86°F

Around 90°F

95°F to 98°F

Shelf Life

Roughly 2 years

Roughly 2 years

Roughly 1 year

Main Fatty Acids

Oleic acid and Stearic acid

Oleic acid and Stearic acid

Oleic acid, Stearic acid and Palmitic acid

Scent

Very mild sweet scent

Significant nutty scent

Distinctive chocolate scent

There are significant differences and no single best choice. Instead, the butters all work well in different situations.

Most recipes rely on the variation in properties to create amazing finished products. The butters can also be used directly on your skin, although some take more effort than others.

If you’re planning to make your own skincare and body products, stick with the body butters recommended in the recipe. The ones below are all powerful examples.

Many recipes also combine body butters with aromatic essential oils (like tea tree oil). These offer benefits of their own and make the finished product smell amazing. The site Live Simply has a powerful guide showing you all the steps.

If you want something directly for your skin, shea butter can be a good place to start. This is often considered a skin loving butter, is quickly absorbed and has a low melting temperature. It will simply melt on skin contact, making it much easier to use than some of the others. 

The site Beauty Munsta offers a guide about different ways you can use shea butter and includes some simple options that you can rely on.

Shea butter is the easiest option to use directly on your skin but all three types work well in recipes

Other Types of Body Butter

Homemade body butter

Mango, shea and cocoa butter might be popular but they’re not the only options for skincare. The following are all examples and many are present in DIY skincare recipes.

  • Coffee Butter. A smooth and soft butter that smells like coffee. The softness is perfect for whipped body butter recipes, although the coffee scent remains.
  • Kokum Butter. A soft and crumbly butter. It is created from the seeds of the kokum tree (Garcinia indica). The butter is most common as a way to thicken recipes and it is non-greasy.
  • Avocado Butter. Another soft butter, which is made from avocados. It easily melts on skin contact and is perfect in recipes for creams and whipped body butter.
  • Coconut Oil. This isn’t technically a type of butter, but it does have some of the same properties. More importantly, coconut oil is used in many recipes and helps when combining the different butters.
  • Shorea Butter. An off-white butter that is much less common. It has many similarities to cocoa butter.
  • Illipe Butter. This has a harder consistency and is best used in recipes rather than on its own.
  • Cupuacu Butter. This is a creamy butter with a cocoa-like scent. It is powerful for reducing moisture loss and improving moisture in the skin and hair.

These are often used in recipes as well and can provide their own advantages.

There are many other types of butters. These offer benefits too and are effective in recipes

Final Thoughts

Shea, mango and cocoa butter are all common and popular options for skincare. Regardless of which you choose, you’re getting a natural product that is great for your skin.

Each behaves differently, so the best answer is going to depend on what you’re looking for. Some trial and error may be needed too. The best outcome may also depend on other factors, like how oily your skin is or how much hydration you need.

Regardless of the type, you don’t have to worry about any foreign chemicals or concerning processes. There are also countless amazing recipes that take advantage of these, many of which are very easy to use.

Once you get started with these butters, you’ll never want to go back to chemical-laden commercial products.

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Better health starts in the kitchen, with the food that you eat and the meals you prepare. Getting the best outcomes involves making good choices about the food and the ingredients that you use. 

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Mango Butter vs Shea Butter vs Cocoa Butter

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