Everything You Need To Know About Shea Butter

Last Updated on July 9, 2021

Everything you need to know about shea butter

“African Shea Butter”

What comes to mind when you read those words in the ingredient list of your next beauty buy? Maybe words like “natural, moisturising, nutty”… well, you’re not wrong.

From a market square in cape verde to the avenues of new york, all over the world this super-nut is sought after for skin or hair care. I love this ingredient, and with good reason, its one of the most moisturizing things you can have in your skin and hair products.

Wait until you hear this.

Ever wanted to have shiny, thick locks? Or smooth out some of those forehead wrinkles? Or say goodbye to dry skin and soothe away eczema? Then shea butter is about to become your new best friend.

I’m going to reveal all of the secrets of this African butter, from the beauty benefits to how you can incorporate it into your life right away. The best bit? You won’t even need to spend a lot of money, shea butter in its pure and natural form is the best way to reap all the benefits in this wonderful, versatile ingredient.

Here’s a tip- if you’re looking to incorporate shea butter for your skin and hair routine, go for a tub of pure, raw shea butter. You’ll be able to add this into your existing products and get the most out of this supernut!

Ready to change your beauty game?

What is shea butter?

Shea butter grows in nuts found in west africa and other parts of africa, which are used to make natural products. It is used for health, moisturizing, and healing benefits as well as reducing inflammation.

Extracted from the African shea tree nut (Vitellaria paradoxa), shea butter is actually the oil that is removed from the nuts of the shea trees and solidifies to make a creamy butter shea. Its actually fatty oil that is solid at room temperature, packed with fatty acids, vitamins and phenolics.

The nuts of the Karite tree are then crushed, boiled and the fat or butter is then extracted from the nuts. If you want specifics, its got five essential fatty acids your body needs such as stearic, palmitic, arachidic oleic acids and lineoleic acid. Its rich in vitamins E, F and A as well as allantoin which helps protect from the sun and nourish. It has 10 phenolics, mostly catechins which have anti-oxidant properties.

In English? If you wanted an ingredient that has anti aging benefits, go for an antioxidant rich product like this one. It’s perfect if you have skin conditions or irritations as it has anti anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties as well as the vitamins. It boosts collagen production ideal for aging or scarring, reduces effect of free radicals, and is moisturising.

Did I mention you can eat it too?

Benefits of shea butter

So many moisturizers, creams and lotions contain shea butter, and with good reason. Being so rich in fats makes shea butter ideal as an emollient and as a moisturizing agent, as well as a soothing or healing irritated skin. Check out some of the shea butter benefits:

Moisturizes dry skin

This is truly nature’s moisturizers. Shea butter nourishes dry skin with its high fat content, it is easily absorbed into the skin and does not clog pores. It’s the perfect emollient and humectant. Is shea butter good for skin? Absolutely.

Soothes skin problems

People with eczema, dermatitis or other ones such as roasacea can benefit from the anti inflammatory properties of shea butter. Its also useful for sunburns, rashes and small cuts as the anti-oxidant and anti microbial properties can repair damage. That includes your scalp by the way, so make sure to include it as a pre shampoo treatment if you have dandruff. It also reduces inflammation to heal wounds.

Anti-aging

Shea butter boosts the collagen production in your skin to renew and rejuvenate. Vitamins A and E also aid in keeping it nourished and supple, thus preventing fine lines and wrinkles. It also means with vitamin F that your skin elasticity is increased, revealing beautiful, soft skin.

SPF

The sun can cause major damage to your skin and hair, increasing the free radicals and pollutants in our skin. The fatty acids and vitamins in shea butter give your skin an antioxidant boost and the vitamins offer protection against UVB rays.

Repair damaged hair

Shea butter is a natural conditioner by restoring moisture, protecting your hair from the harsh sun and weather. It coats the hair shaft, infuses it with vitamins A and E to lock in moisture, and reduce split ends.

Reduce hair loss

As a scalp treatment, you can use the anti-inflammatory properties and fatty acids to condition and treat the scalp. This will make your hair stronger and shinier too.

Due to all these properties, it means you can also use shea butter to fade stretch marks, as a lip balm for chapped lips, and for baby rash or razor burn too. If you have curly hair, it’s a great way to tame your curls and remove frizz too!

Uses for shea butter

Ready to incorporate this into your life? Here are some ways you can do that:

Shea butter for skin

Although you can simply buy existing products with shea butter in it, this is going to be refined shea butter which has lost some of the rich nutrients. I would recommend buying a raw tub of shea butter, and using it on its own, or mixing it with a plain body butter or cream.

How to make shea butter DIY cream

For this, you will need a cup of raw shea butter, and two different oils of your choice, for example coconut oil, or olive oil. You can also use avocado oil, almond oil, anything you have! Solid oils such as the shea butter and coconut oil need to be melted, you can do this by placing them in a bain marie (in a bowl that sits in hot water)

Add half a cup each of the other oils, and add into the melted shea butter, stir until they are well mixed together. Let them cool off for 15mins in the fridge, and once they have started to solidify grab a mixer. You can now whip them up with the mixer to create a soft, body butter.

Put this mixture into an airtight glass jar, and you’ll be able to use to moisturize whenever you want!

The best thing is you can customize based on your needs and what you have. Research and try out different recipes until your find your favourite. If you’re not a fan of the nutty smell, you can add a few drops of an essential oil of your choice too.

If you want to make a lip balm, do the same and add some beeswax for the base, plus a few drops of essential oil.

Shea butter for hair

A tip- if you have thin hair, use only a little bit of shea utter, even as an oil form to not weigh the hair down. You can use it as a scalp treatment or hair mask, just make sure you shampoo it out after. For thicker curly hair, shea butter is a great way to condition and moisturize hair, maybe even as a leave in.

To condition or as a mask

To moisturize, use at as a mask on damp, wet hair to seal in moisture. For thick, afro hair, you can even add it into your conditioner, or into your shampoo or cream. You can use it as a heat protectant too by applying it with avocado or grapeseed oil before using heat styling tools. For other hair types, use it liquid and apply into your damp hair as a mask. As this is such a heavy product, its best to wash it out after.

Scalp treatment

Melt the shea butter into a liquid form, and allow it to cool a little. Spread into your scalp using fingertips and massage well. You can add essential oils such as teatree oil to stimulate hair growth and treat scalp conditions. I would recommend washing it out after 30mins if you have oily skin or breakouts as this can aggravate it further.

 

Refined or unrefined?

Shea butter comes in two types, refined and unrefined.

Refined shea butter is the purest form of shea butter, and is the least processed. Manually extracted from the nut, it contains all the vitamins and minerals you want. To remove impurities, it will be passed through a basic filtration process, but is then melted and set into a mold to sell. Shea butter may vary in the color, scent and texture can slightly. Grade a shea butter is the highest quality.

Refined shea butter is the processed form you will likely find as an ingredient in your products. This time it is filtered, and goes through a deodorizing process using chemicals or airing. To whiten the color they will usually bleach it too. Most products will then add a perfume scent and preservatives to increase the shelf life. Although you get a smooth finish, it often means it has lost some of their rich nutritional value.

Either way, shea butter is an excellent ingredient to have in your skin care, it has a high fatty acid content that protects the skin barrier.

Some side effects

Although I love shea butter, I know its not a miracule, cure-all magic nut. There are some people that may experience side effects from using shea butter. Despite the antioxidant properties and the natural properties that nourish and protect the skin barrier, there are some things you need to be careful with:

Breakouts/acne- Not everyone can put shea butter on their face or skin. For some, shea butter may clog their pores and be too heavy, causing breakouts on their skin. In general, shea butter is non comedogenic and should not clog pores, or cause acne.

Allergy- if you have an allergy to nuts or are allergic to the shea tree, it can affect your health through itchy, red or rashy skin. If that happens stop using it and consult a doctor.

I would recommend using cocoa butter if you don’t like shea butter but want something similar in your skin care with healing and moisturizing agents, it reduces inflammation and can be found in high quality in beauty treatments too..

Final Thoughts

It’s no wonder shea butter is a superfood. Packed with vitamins and fatty acids, it’s the perfect addition into your skin care or hair care routine.

For my guys and gals with dry skin, it can be a lifesaver. I like to add it as part of my regular moisturizer for a more potent result, or even make my own whipped body butter to use.

But the skin benefits don’t stop there, you can also treat skin conditions, and help fade scars and fine lines or wrinkles in this collagen boosting butter.

For haircare, this doesn’t stay behind, and I understand why so many products have it. If you want an ultra-moisturising product to seal in water, or treat dry, flaky scalp then this is it. It even has SPF in it to protect from sun damage and keep your skin and hair happy and healthy.

This is your sign to get a big tub of raw shea butter.

What are you waiting for!?

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