Anyone else love shea butter? It’s been used for centuries – and for good reason! Shea butter is amazing at moisturising the skin, frequently used in skin and hair care products, especially in its natural and pure form.
What is it?
Shea butter is fat that’s been extracted from shea tree nuts. It’s rich in fats and is derived from the karite tree (also known as the shea tree) that your hair and skin will love. Most shea butter comes from shea trees in West Africa.
It gets absorbed quickly into the skin as it melts at body temperature making it a beautifully beneficial skincare ingredient. It can also be used in cooking.
What are the benefits?
Shea butter has proven anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties by causing cytokine production to slow down. They are molecules that are secreted by immune cells that promote inflammation on the skin. This may lead to it having healing properties… including for things like sunburn, eczema and other skin irritation.
It’s an emollient
Thanks to its vitamins A, E, and F content, shea butter soaks into your skin, creating a smooth and soft barrier that seals in moisture and lasts several hours.
Anti-aging and antioxidant properties
Its anti-aging and antioxidant properties that could promote collagen production by combating the effects of free radical damage. It has an abundance of vitamins A, E, and F to boost circulation and encourage faster generation of healthy skin cells, helping make the skin more elastic, to firm and strengthen the skin.
Strengthens the skin barrier
Shea butter helps strengthen the skin barrier – properties like stearic, palmitic, and linoleic acids help lock in moisture, nourishing the skin and helping it retain moisture.
Rich in fatty acids
It has a range of anti-aging and antioxidant properties (a major amount coming from stearic and oleic acids), phytosterols, vitamins E and D, allantoin (good for healing skin irritations2), and vitamin A
It’s great for the hair
In haircare, shea butter can help smooth rough, damaged cuticles and reduce breakage whilst also moisturising the scalp.
It can be used on all skin types – its natural and does not contain any irritating chemicals that cause the skin to dry out. It’s also very low in proteins that may trigger proteins.
How to choose the right shea butter? Refined vs unrefined
- Unrefined shea butter is extracted without any added preservatives or anything else. This allows it to retain all its natural benefits.
- It’s usually a light beige or yellow, with an earthy nutty smell
- Refined shea butter is extracted using a chemical process with petroleum solvents, antioxidants, or preservatives.
- It’s sometimes bleached white and has no scent.
- According to the American Shea Butter Institute, refined shea butter can lose up to 75 percent of its bioactive nutrients (the stuff that makes shea butter so beneficial) in the refinement process.
- It also has a smoother feeling and consistency in comparison to unrefined.
Here are some of our favourite shea butter based products…