Shea butter, which is also called Karité butter, is a revered ingredient in the cosmetics and beauty industry. Widely known for its skincare and sensory properties, it has been used as an emollient for centuries in various parts of sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, the history of this ingredient dates back to the time of Cleopatra, the famous Queen of Egypt, who kept jars and jars of shea butter for her beauty routine.
Now, you may be thinking, if it was so loved by Cleopatra, that’s enough for me to use it too. However, before adding any new ingredient to your skincare routine, it is always a good idea to do some research. If you are already a shea butter user, well, there is no harm in knowing a bit more about this wonder ingredient.
In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about this moisturizing ingredient as we explore how it can be beneficial for your skin. We will also provide you with some excellent product recommendations. Without further ado, let’s begin.
Before we explore the benefits of shea butter, it is important to understand what it is. Shea butter is a rare and complex natural substance that is found in many cosmetic products’ ingredient lists these days. After several studies were conducted on the nutritional qualities of shea butter, it was found that it contains a high amount of magnesium and potassium. As for the chemical composition of shea butter, it contains fatty acid glycerides like linoleic, stearic, oleic, and palmitic acids. Besides this, it also contains phenols and sterols, which give the characteristic conditioning and moisturizing properties to shea butter cleansers.
The multiuse balm is native to Africa and is obtained from the shea tree, which is known as the Vitellaria Paradoxa. This tree is only grown in the Savannah Belt of the African continent, which is a narrow belt that stretches from Mali in the west to Ethiopia in the east. This shea tree grows approximately 15-20 meters high and bears fruit after every 15 years. Every tree produces almost 30kg of fruit annually. African households have been using this tree for more than 2000 years for beauty purposes and, surprisingly, for cooking. However, in other parts of the world, it is exclusively used as a beauty product.
How Is Shea Butter Made?
As we have already stated, shea butter is made from the shea nuts found in the fruits of the trees. Usually, these nuts are processed locally to be exported around the world. But the question remains – how does the process of extracting shea butter take place?
After the shea fruits ripen, the kernels containing the oil and seeds are extracted. These kernels are then boiled in water and left to dry. Once the kernels are completely dry, nuts can be cracked easily.
In the next step, the cracked nuts are roasted and ground into a fine powder. This powder is then mixed with water to form a smooth and thick paste-like mixture. Over time, the oil of the seed separates from the water and rises to the surface. This is what is known as shea butter. This separated oil is then stored in jars and pots, and eventually, it turns solid shea butter.
Is Shea Butter Good for Skin?
You’ve probably already realized that answer is yes – shea butter is an amazing ingredient that can do wonders for your skin. But let’s find out how exactly your skin can benefit from using this butter.
Shea butter is safe for all skin types
Although shea butter is obtained from a tree nut, it’s not high in proteins that are often known to trigger allergies. In medical literature, there has been no case of an allergic reaction to the topical application of shea butter.
Besides this, shea butter also doesn’t contain any chemical nasties that dry out or irritate the skin. Since it doesn’t clog pores, it can practically be used on all skin types.
Shea butter is moisturizing
Shea butter became famous for its moisturizing properties. When it is applied to the body, the fatty acids are absorbed into the skin, replenishing the lost moisture and restoring the lipids. In this way, shea butter helps in restoring the skin barrier to reduce the problems related to dryness.
Shea butter doesn’t make skin oily
The oleic acid and linoleic acid in shea butter balance each other out. This means that it does not make the skin oily after application. The shea butter gets absorbed into the skin easily and leaves no traces of stickiness. So, people with oily skin can also use shea butter without experiencing any issues.
Health and Skin Benefits of Shea Butter
Shea butter contains high quantities of vitamin A, E, and F, which makes it a rich emollient for healing cracked and dry skin. It has a softening effect on the skin and is not very greasy either.
We have even more in store. So, keep reading — we promise that shea butter will become your best friend!
Shea butter is great for treating inflammatory skin conditions. In fact, traditional African regions have been using this ingredient for treating rheumatism. Shea butter is known to contain a high level of triterpenes, which are popular anti-inflammatory agents.
Shea butter also contains polyphenols and tocopherol, which are known to prevent free radical damage. The antioxidant properties of shea butter are what make it excellent for cosmetic products. Thus, shea butter can be used to fight signs of aging. With prolonged use, it can make your skin look healthier, smoother, and younger.
Shea butter is most popular for its moisturizing properties. This fact has been substantiated through studies on the effect of shea butter on the skin. In a lab test, it was found that skin which was moisturized using shea butter was markedly different from one that was moisturized using other lotions. Shea butter has also been used as a traditional sunblock in Africa to protect the skin from the harsh climate.
Other skin benefits
Shea butter is a super moisturizer for healing cracked and dry skin. Besides this, it is also great for blemishes, sunburn, stretch marks, and common skin conditions like dermatitis.
Shea Butter – Common Uses
Shea butter works pretty well on its own. However, it can also be combined with several other skin-friendly ingredients. When it’s combined with heavier ingredients like silicones and waxes, it can be very useful for treating rough, dry, and cracked skin. It will also be a good heavy-duty moisturizer for your hands, feet, and elbows during the winter months.
Shea butter usage is not just limited to skincare products. As we have stated before, there are many benefits of using shea butter on your hair too. Shea butter-based haircare products help in smoothening out the damaged and rough hair cuticles. It also helps in moisturizing the scalp while reducing hair breakage. If you have hair that is particularly dry and thick, shea butter can work miracles for you. It won’t be the best option for you if you have thinner hair strands, as it can end up weighing down the hair.
Shea butter is actually a multipurpose ingredient that is used in many beauty products like body washes, soaps, moisturizers, shampoos, conditioners, hair masks, and more. No matter what formulation or purpose you’re looking for, you will find a shea butter-based product that fulfils your need.
How to Incorporate Shea Butter Into Your Skin and Hair Care Routine?
Whether you are looking for an anti-inflammatory product or something that is super moisturizing, shea butter will solve all your skin and hair care woes. If you have some of the issues listed below, you should include shea butter in your skin or hair care routine.
Tackles dry skin: Shea butter is great for combating dry skin issues. According to an ASBI report, the moisturizing properties of shea butter are very similar to the natural skin oils produced by the sebaceous glands. This is why it is an excellent match for dry skin.
Great hair product:Any hair products with shea butter as a primary ingredient will be great for people with dry, thick, and rough hair. Shea butter not only helps in sealing in moisture but also conditions the scalp, enhances curls, and decreases frizz.
Keeps your lips moisturized:If you have cracked lips or dry skin around your lips, shea butter can be an excellent moisturizing agent. Apply it to your lips several times a day to soothe the dry skin.
Helps with skin inflammations: Shea butter is a great anti-inflammatory agent as it contains cinnamic acid derivatives. If you are struggling with skin inflammation, shea butter can help in soothing and calming down the skin.
Targets stretch marks: While laser treatments and Retin-A continue to be the best way to target stretch marks, many people believe that shea butter can be great for decreasing their appearance. Shea butter contains a lot of healing agents and vitamins, which makes it an excellent natural ingredient for combating this problem.
Helps with acne and eczema: Applying a thin film of shea butter on your skin is known to help with eczema and acne.
Repairs dry cuticles and cracked heels:If you suffer from cracked heels and dry cuticles, continued application of shea butter can help in repairing the skin in these areas.
Provides your skin with antioxidants:Shea butter contains numerous plant antioxidants and is also high in vitamins A and E. Use shea butter to provide your skin with an antioxidant boost.
Must-Have Shea Butter Skin Care and Hair Care Products
Wow Skin Science has an excellent range of skin and hair care products containing shea butter. Most of these products come with a combination of other skin-friendly, plant-based ingredients, which makes these products suitable for different skin types.
What’s better is that they are free from any chemicals or parabens, so you can use them even if you have sensitive skin. Let’s take a look at some great shea butter products:
Wow Skin Science Skin Revive Nectar Moisturizer Lotion: Do you feel that your skin needs that extra moisture boost? This shea butter-based moisturizing lotion is the answer for you. Besides shea butter, it also contains cocoa butter and beetroot extract, which help in softening the skin and providing it protection from UV damage.
Wow Skin Science Body Butter Raw African Shea: This body butter can provide your skin with intense hydration quickly and effectively. It contains the goodness of shea butter and also a range of other skin-friendly ingredients like aloe vera, almond oil, and vitamins A, D, B, and E.
Wow Skin Science Shea & Cocoa Butter Moisturizing Lotion: Want a moisturizer that spreads easily but provides your skin with deep hydration at the same time? This body lotion can help repair dry and damaged skin, and it also helps in soothing inflammations and boosting collagen production.
Wow Skin Science Moroccan Rose Otto Foaming Body Wash: This is a great body wash for anyone with dry and sensitive skin. The shea butter ensures that the moisture is not stripped from your skin, while the vitamin E and rose otto essential oil assists in repairing the skin.
Wow Skin Science Retinol Face Cream: Many people struggle with introducing retinol into their skincare routine, as some skin types can be sensitive to this ingredient. The Wow Skin Retinol Cream, however, comes with shea butter which helps in offsetting any sensitivity that can occur from retinol use. This is a great option for bringing back a youthful glow to dull, tired, and aging skin.
Now that you know everything there is to know about shea butter, you can go ahead and add this ingredient to your beauty routine. With continued use of this wonder ingredient, you will be able to see a marked improvement in your hair and skin health. Even if you struggle with skin sensitivity and inflammatory skin conditions, shea butter can be your savior. Try it out yourself and tell us about your experience!