What Is Shea Butter?
Shea butter is a skin superfood that comes from the seeds of the fruit of the Shea (Karite) tree and that is naturally rich in vitamins A, E and F. It offers UV protection (it is 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 butter 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 butter 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 butter 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.
The good news is, it’s great to use on kids and babies too!
Ways to Use Shea Butter
Shea butter is one of the most versatile natural beauty ingredients and I use it daily in some form. I’ve used it for years in everything from my homemade lotion bars and original magnesium body butter to homemade lip balms and healing salves.
Shea butter uses and benefits for healthy hair and skin
Some of my favorite uses for shea butter:
By itself for face and body as a natural moisturizer
In a shea butter lotion bar stick for easy use
After sun or beach exposure to replenish skin
Alone or in a pregnancy salve to ward off stretch marks
As a natural cuticle cream
As the best under-eye wrinkle remover and bag-reducer
As a massage butter
In my homemade velvety soft whipped body butter
On sore/raw noses during a cold or flu
Added to basic homemade lotion
On scars to naturally help collagen production
As a base for homemade deodorant
By itself for low-grade sun protection
Whipped into magnesium body butter
As a natural baby-care product (alone) or ingredient in baby care recipes
By itself on the lips or in homemade lip balms
In a homemade shimmer lip balm
On the eyelids before applying makeup to make it last longer
To improve skin elasticity (some even say it helps with cellulite)
On the hair or scalp (in mixture with other natural ingredients)
In homemade liquid creme foundation and makeup