Right from your lotions, conditioners, shampoos, to cosmetic products, all contain shea butter. Even though very few are aware of the benefits of shea butter. This off-white, creamy substance has natural healing, anti-aging, and moisturizing properties.
That is why it is called the magical ingredient for skin and hair. But, Can we use shea butter directly on the skin?
Read further to know more about this natural skincare ingredient, its benefits, how to use it, and its side effects.
Introducing Nature’s Best Product- “Shea Butter”
This age-old secret of queens of West Africa comes from a karite tree called the “Tree of Life.” It is also called Women’s Gold as most of the African women get livelihood from shea butter extraction.
The tree’s bark is used to make coffins. However, its fruits are not very safe for consumption. Only the butter and oil extracted from the shea nuts are a popular ingredient in the cosmetic industry.
It is available in two forms- Unrefined and refined shea butter that exactly looks like coconut butter but has a slightly off-white color. However, raw or unrefined shea butter is mostly used than refined as it lacks vital properties.
Contrary to refined, raw butter contains several skin-friendly acids like:
- Oleic acid– Lock the skin’s natural moisture and prevent drying of the skin
- Stearic acid– Removes dirt and oil from the deepest of skin’s surface
- Linoleic acid– Also known as Vitamin F, linoleic is a very necessary acid for skin that protects against UV rays and aging. It acts as a barrier against air pollutants and keeps skin young and glowing.
Besides these, shea butter also contains omega 6 and omega 9 acids that are healthy for skin and hair.
5 Benefits Of Shea Butter
1. Healing Properties– If there’s only one reason to use shea on the skin it’s due to its great healing properties. The non-saponifiable ingredient does not mix with alkalis and hurts your skin like other oils. Besides this, it can treat skin conditions like itching, roughness, stretch marks, dermatitis, burns, insect bites, etc.
2. Improves Skin’s Elasticity– As we age, our skin loses its flexibility or elasticity. Using shea butter can improve the skin’s ability to produce collagen. Moreover, triterpenes in the shea prevent the destruction of collagen fiber. As a result, you get softer, plumper, hydrated, and fewer fine lines on the skin.
3. Slow Down Hair Loss– Not just skin, you can use it on your scalp for reducing hair fall. It conditions your hair from the roots and prevents inflammation thereby preventing hair loss.
4. Soften Brittle Hair– Besides conditioning and treating split ends, raw shea butter can also revitalize your brittle hair. Simply massage with shea butter twice a week and treat your curly, brittle, or dry hair.
5. Moisturize Your Lips- Benefits of shea butter are not limited to skin and hair. It can improve your lip’s health as well. Thus, it is widely used during winters to treat chapped and dry lips.
3 Ways To Get Shea Butter Benefits
1. As Body Lotion
- Shea butter- 1 cup
- Almond oil- half cup
- Coconut oil- half cup
Shea butter is usually solid so you bring it to a liquid consistency in a double boiler. Add remaining ingredients, mix well, and store in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Blend the shea mix in a processor till it turns creamy. Store in an air-tight container and use regularly as a body lotion.
2. Shea Face Mask
- Raw honey- 1tbsp
- Grapeseed oil- few drops
- Shea butter- 1 tbsp
Make sure you are using raw and unrefined butter as all the healing properties of refined shea butter are lost during the processing. Mix the ingredients and make a face mask. Gently wash with warm water after 10 minutes.
You can also make a face mask for oily skin with shea butter.
[Note: Do not use this shea recipe if you have acnes]
3. Natural Conditioner
- Curly hair– Use the melted unrefined shea butter on the scalp and massage gently in circular motions. Rinse and wash later.
- Dry hair- Apply directly on the tip of the hair.
Mix with your favorite hair oil to use shea as a leave-in moisturizer. You can also mix shea with shampoos and conditioners for better results.
Do Not Ingest Shea Butter
Although these benefits of shea butter will make it your favorite day-to-day product, beware of its topical application. Hives, dizziness, headache, and weakness are the few side effects of shea butter you can get in case of ingestion.
[Note: Be careful while using shea butter if you have allergies to nuts. Also, do not overuse as it is heaviest among other skin-friendly oils and can cause more acne to people with acne-prone skin.]