An Ode to Palmer's Cocoa Butter for Holdin' a Brotha Down for the Past 30 Years. Thank You for Being a Friend

Illustration for article titled An Ode to Palmer's Cocoa Butter for Holdin' a Brotha Down for the Past 30 Years. Thank You for Being a Friend
Photo: Panama Jackson

I don’t know what prompted me to go into my parents’ bathroom and look for some lotion when I was around 10 years old. I was a boy after all, and I don’t remember my parents ever stressing me about the finer points of proper moisturization. Hell, I vividly remember times I jumped right out of the bathtub into some pajamas, with nary a dollop of Vaseline to be applied. Dollop is a fun word, by the way.


I have kids now and I apply the proper moisturization to them almost clinically, because I’d hate for my children to know the pangs of cracking skin due to unnecessary dryness. My hope is that the application of skin lubricants to stave off Super Ash Will Get You Clowned For Life-osis becomes automatic in their lives as they ascend into the world of adulthood. But as for me, I have no idea why on that fateful day I walked upstairs into my parents’ room and grabbed a bottle of Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula, presumably off of my mother’s nightstand, popped the top and began to squeeze that thick situation moisturizer onto my hands.

Like cologne, if you don’t know what you’re doing with Palmer’s, you’re in for a world of hurt. If you use too much, you’ll spend the better part of half-an-hour trying to rub it into your skin, wondering if you’ll ever get to the end of your journey. Unlike using too much cologne, which can have people trying to get away from you—face it, there’s only so much Aqua Velva one man needs to wear—Palmer’s smells so good that if you live in non-black surroundings, it becomes a magnet for other black people. Palmer’s is gravity.

If you do happen to live in a black area, well, it’s just one of many native scents.

While I don’t know what prompted that first foray into proper skincare, I do, however, know why I kept using it: the girls in school loved how I smelled. For a rather short, nerdy, cool-for-a-nerd, made-the-team(s)-but-didn’t-play-much chap like myself, getting attention from girls was both a new and welcome experience—and it was almost always because I smelled like chocolate. Now, I know it was the Palmer’s, and I’m guessing the black girls knew it was the Palmer’s, but nobody ever said it and I got to be the boy who smelled good all the time. And well, that made me happy. So when it was time to get lotion, I’d always ask my mother to pick me up some Palmer’s. And this love affair—though not entirely for the same reasons—has lasted to this very day; just yesterday, I purchased two bottles of Palmer’s Coconut Oil Body Lotion.

Now according to African American lore, cocoa butter keeps the skin all healed up. And it turns out, for me, that’s been absolutely true. My skin isn’t flawless, chile, but I’ve been told that I have “good skin.” I can only chalk that up to my Palmer’s loyalty. I have no skincare regimen. Or at least, not one that might actually be called a “regimen.” I’m a dude; I hop up out my bed, turn my swag on, jump in the shower and because their commercials tickled me so, I almost always buy Old Spice body wash. And not any particular scent, either; I pretty much buy whichever one smells best to me on the day that I go to Target. And then, once I hop out the shower, I put Palmer’s on my body, all over my body. Shoulders, chest, pants and shoes. Wipe me down. Heads, shoulders, knees and toes (knees and toes). That’s literally it. And I always feel ready for the day.

But those healing qualities: Back in 2015—I remember this ‘pacifically because it was right before the wedding of one of my best friends—I made the boneheaded decision to try a new razor. I damn near took a whole layer of skin off of my head. I have pictures that I will not share, but believe you me when I say it was both one of the most painful experiences of my life and one of the nastiest wounds I’ve ever seen in person. And it’s gone. Like gone-gone. Like there isn’t even the slightest reminder that I nearly skin grafted myself and I owe that (in my head) all to my use of Palmer’s and the wonderful skincare products. It’s kept me smelling good for 30 years and kept my skin lookin’ good for 30 years.


Now, every time I tell somebody that I use Palmer’s exclusively on my body, I always get the “even on your face?” response. Which is odd to me because it wasn’t until I was a grown man that I realized that many folks, and women, in particular, use various jellies and jams for different parts of their body. But to quote poet laureate and boo-extraordinaire Sweet Brown: Ain’t nobody got time for that. I just do it, do it, do it ‘til I’m satisfied—and that requires one soap and one lotion per day. And yes, that means lathering the latheration all over my face with the proper moisturization. (Also, that sentence sounds, um, nasty. I’ll keep it, though. That’s what she said. I’m here every Tuesday.)

So yes, I use my Palmer’s daily, weekly, monthly and yearly, to make sure all you folks see clearly that I am devoted to my cocoa butter (and coconut oil body lotion). My Palmer’s has held me down and kept me fresh and dressed like a million bucks. It’s kept me moisturized and confident in my skincare mental health.


To Palmer’s Cocoa Butter, thank you for being a friend. We’ve traveled around the world and back again. Your chemical configuration is true, you’re a pal and a confidant.

If you throw a party and invite everyone that you know, you will see that the biggest gift will be from me and it will be a big ass vat of Palmer’s.


To Palmer’s...and my moisturization journey.

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.



It truly is the best and has the absolute best smell. When they started venturing out and making the cream and then oil and then a Nair like lotion, I was so happy.

But...never on my face man!  I have about 5 products for my face.  LOL