shea butter

Shea butter is a skin superfood that comes from the seeds of the fruit of the Shea (Karite) tree. It may offer mild UV protection (up to SPF ~6) and provides the skin with essential fatty acids and the nutrients necessary for collagen production.

Shea Shea Hurray

Shea butter is a skin superfood that comes from the seeds of the fruit of the Shea (Karite) tree. It may offer mild UV protection (up to SPF ~6) and provides the skin with essential fatty acids and the nutrients necessary for collagen production.

Shea butter has been used in Africa and many other locations for years to improve skin and hair. It also has a long history of medicinal use, such as in wound care and even treating leprosy.

It’s also not uncommon in that part of the world to eat shea as well, much as we use palm oil in products. There’s differing opinions on whether or not it’s healthy to eat, and since some studies suggest that ingesting shea butter may interfere with the digestion of other proteins, I use it externally only.

Shea Butter Benefits

  • Moisturizing: The concentration of natural vitamins and fatty acids in shea makes it incredibly nourishing and moisturizing for skin. It is often used to remedy dry skin and to help protect the skin’s natural oils.
  • Reduces Inflammation: A 2010 study found that due to its cinnamic acid and other natural properties, shea butter was anti-inflammatory. One compound in particular, lupeol cinnamate, was found to reduce skin inflammation and even potentially help avoid skin mutations. This also makes it beneficial for some people with acne.
  • Skin Smoothing: Shea aids in the skin’s natural collagen production and contains oleic, stearic, palmitic, and linolenic acids that protect and nourish the skin to prevent drying. With long-term use, many people report skin softening and strengthening as well as wrinkle reduction.

Benefits Of Shea Butter For The Skin

Incorporating shea butter into your regular skin care routine will work wonders. Check out here.

1. Moisturizes Dry Skin

Shea butter is an excellent moisturizer for the face and the body. Its fat content is responsible for its emollient and humectant properties. It locks in the moisture in the skin and keeps it hydrated for long. Dehydrated and dry skin becomes rough and scaly. Certain areas of the body can even develop skin cracks due to dryness. Shea butter can nourish the skin with its fat content. It can also help to soften the skin on your hands and feet and make it supple. It penetrates the skin easily, without clogging the pores, and is effective for dry skin.

2. Treats Acne And Blemishes

Shea butter is known for its healing properties, which can be attributed to the presence of several fatty acids and plant sterols such as oleic, palmitic, stearic, and linolenic acids. These oil-soluble components do not undergo saponification or convert into soap on coming in contact with alkalis. Shea butter is more non-saponifiable than other nut oils and fats, thus imparting it great healing potential. Raw, unrefined shea butter is effective in curing skin rashes, skin peeling after tanning, scars, stretch marks, frost bites, burns, athletes foot, insect bites and stings, and acne.

3. Reduces Skin Inflammation

Shea butter has several derivatives of cinnamic acid that exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. These properties make it beneficial for the improvement of skin conditions that result from an increase in inflammatory compounds. Generalized inflammations from conditions like dermatitis and rosacea can be alleviated by using shea butter on the affected area. Sunburns, rashes, cuts, and scrapes that can result in swelling can also be treated using this butter.

4. Anti-Aging And Anti-Free Radical Agent

Shea butter is considered as one of the best anti-aging agents for the skin. It stimulates the production of collagen, the youthful scaffolding protein in the skin. The vitamins A and E found in this butter keep the skin supple, nourished, and radiant. If used regularly, it reduces wrinkles and also prevents premature wrinkles and facial lines. Its anti-aging properties can also be attributed to its ability to increase circulation to the skin and promote cell renewal.

These vitamins, along with catechins, also exert an antioxidant effect against free radicals that damage the skin. These free radicals are often found in our environment in pollutants and irritants. The sun’s rays can also increase the free radicals in our skin, which can easily damage the skin cells. The cinnamic acid esters in the shea fat prevent damage from these compounds by giving your skin an antioxidant boost.

5. Provides Relief To Itchy And Peeling Skin

For itching skin, both the moisturizing and the anti-inflammatory properties of shea butter prove to be beneficial. Dryness can cause your skin to start peeling and/or become flaky. It can cause the skin to itch. The moisturizing fatty acids of shea butter can provide relief by supplying the skin with the oils it needs. If the itching is due to a skin condition like psoriasis, the anti-inflammatory activity of shea butter works really well to alleviate it.

6. Restores The Elasticity Of The Skin

The non-saponifiable matter and vitamin F in this butter are vital ingredients for maintaining the skin’s elasticity. Shea butter also improves the production of collagen in the skin. Thus, its application restores the natural elasticity of the skin besides hydrating, softening, and beautifying it. Restored elasticity also ensures reduced wrinkles and blemishes.

7. Reduce Razor Irritation And Bumps

Shaving hair using razors can often leave your skin irritated and itchy. At times, it might even develop bumps post shaving as a result of the irritation. Shea butter can help reduce this as it moisturizes and soothes the irritated skin. You can also apply the butter a day prior to shaving to smoothen the skin and hair. This will make the shaving process easier and faster and doesn’t leave any irritated spots behind.

8. Reduces Stretch Marks

Shea butter is often used as a base in ointments or creams prepared commercially for stretch mark treatment. This is because it can dramatically help prevent and reduce stretch marks formed during pregnancy due to weight gain and/or weight loss. These marks are formed when the skin stretches beyond its elastic capacity. The application of shea butter will restore the natural elasticity of the skin and also improve collagen production. It is a natural emollient. Daily massage of the affected area with this skin healing butter can lighten stretch marks.

 

The shea tree has naturally inhabited West Africa for centuries, stretching from Senegal to Sudan and up to the foothills of Ethiopia. African history documents mention jars of a rich butter used for skin and hair care being transported during Cleopatra’s reign. Even the Queen of Sheba is said to have used it!

The tree was used to make coffins for the early kings in Africa, and the butter extracted from the nuts was used for its healing and skin care properties. The tree is also considered sacred by many tribes in Africa. It is still extensively used in Africa to protect the skin and hair from the harsh sun and dry winds. While kneading the extracted oil with the hand was popular earlier, advancements in technology have led to different methods, such as clay filtering and using hexane for the final extraction of shea butter. A few tribes also blend it with palm oil and use it for cooking purposes. This is mostly seen in Northern Nigeria.

Refined vs. Unrefined Shea Butter

Shea butter may be refined or unrefined. Unrefined shea butter is the purest form of shea butter, which is the most natural and the least processed. Since it is extracted manually, it is able to retain its vitamins, minerals, and other natural properties. It is subjected to a basic filtration process using clays, cheesecloth, or other methods. These can slightly alter the butter’s color, scent, and texture. It is melted, set into molds, and sold in the form of bars or sticks.

Unrefined shea butter is further categorized into grades ranging from A to F, with grade A being the best quality.

Refined shea butter, on the other hand, is the processed form. Apart from the filtration process, it also undergoes a deodorizing process by airing or usage of chemicals. It is also bleached to make the butter whiter. Addition of additives is common to add a suitable scent and increase the shelf life (preservatives) of the butter. All of these processes make the butter white and very smooth. A major disadvantage of using the refined version of shea butter is that all the processing it goes through reduces its nutritional value.

This refined version can be refined even further, which implies the involvement of more processes to make it even more smooth and white. This is often done when shea butter needs to incorporated into cosmetics or skin care products. Quite a few of the nutritional benefits get destroyed after so many refining processes. This type of shea butter is often referred to as ultra-refined or highly refined shea butter.

Some companies also market their shea butter as being organic. This is the unrefined version that has been grown and harvested using natural processes only. The healing and moisturizing properties of shea butter can be attributed to its nutritional value.

Organic/Natural skincare essentially means looking after your skin by only using products with completely organic/natural ingredients.

The result is that they are typically a lot less harsh and a lot more nourishing. And they are extremely effective at helping you maintain better skin.

Give your body and skin a natural boost so it can handle the rigors of the adventures life you live.

Revitalize and calm your mind, nourish your skin naturally, while indulging your soul.

5 Reasons Why You Should Start Using Organic Skincare Products

Revitalize and calm your mind, nourish your skin naturally, while indulging your soul.