Shea butter is used in moisturizers, creams, lotions, and other emulsions for the skin and hair.
Extracted from the nuts of the shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) that is native to Africa, shea butter is a fatty oil that exists as a solid at room temperature.
The Karite tree bears the fruits, and the nuts inside the fruits are crushed, boiled, and manipulated to extract a light-coloured fat, which is commonly referred to as shea butter.
The main components of shea butter include oleic acid, stearic acid, and linoleic acid.
It is rich in fats that make it an excellent emollient and skin moisturizing agent.
It also contains vitamins A and E, which not only keep the skin in optimal health but also protects it from being damaged by the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation.
Benefits Of Shea Butter For The Skin
1. Moisturizes Dry Skin
Shea butter is an excellent moisturizer for the face and the body.
It locks in the moisture in the skin and keeps it hydrated for long.
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.
Use shea butter to heal cracked heels, dry cuticles, and rough patches on your 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.
Raw, unrefined shea butter is effective in curing skin rashes, skin peeling after tanning, scars, stretch marks, frostbites, 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 with shea 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.
5. Provides Relief To Itchy And Peeling Skin
The moisturizing and the anti-inflammatory properties of shea butter prove to be beneficial for itching skin.
Dryness can cause your skin to start peeling and itching.
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
Shea butter improves the production of collagen in the skin.
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.
It might even develop bumps 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 without causing skin irritation.
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.
Daily massage of the affected area with shea butter can lighten stretch marks.
9. Helps Soothe Baby Diaper Rash
Unrefined shea butter is an excellent natural moisturizer that is devoid of chemicals.
It is ideal for baby care because it is gentle and soft on the skin and specially adapted for the delicate and sensitive skin of babies.
It can be applied after a bath and also used for healing eczema or diaper rash on the skin of babies and toddlers.
10. Excellent Lip Care
Shea butter is easily absorbable and provides extra moisture and nutrients that the lips need during dry weather conditions.
It acts as a perfect lip balm and is also effective for treating dry and chapped lips.
When applied, it forms a barrier on the lips and retains moisture in the skin.
Benefits Of Shea Butter For Hair
11. Repairs Damaged Hair
A number of chemical treatments like straighteners, perms, and curlers are responsible for stripping off the natural moisture from the hair.
Shea butter can help restore this lost moisture.
It also protects the hair from harsh weather conditions and against salt and chlorine when applied before swimming.
Here is a simple way to include shea butter in your hair care regimen:
- Take a tablespoon of raw or unrefined shea butter and melt it in the microwave for 30-60 seconds.
- Once the butter cools down slightly, add a few drops of lavender essential oil. This step is not compulsory.
- Make small sections of your hair and apply the liquefied butter to the scalp and entire hair length.
- Leave it on for half an hour and then rinse your hair with a mild shampoo.
12. Prevents Hair Loss
The fatty acids of shea butter condition the scalp and hair.
It also provides many essential nutrients that improve both scalp and hair health.
These, in turn, will make your hair follicles stronger and reduce hair fall and hair loss.
Your hair will grow thicker and have a natural shine when you use shea butter.
13. Soothes Dry And Itchy Scalp
Shea butter is effective in soothing a dry, itchy scalp or dandruff.
It possesses anti-inflammatory qualities and rich fat that get absorbed into the skin without leaving a greasy residue behind or clogging the pores.
Hence, it is extremely effective in providing relief from a dry scalp, scalp psoriasis, and other scalp conditions.
14. Treats Split Ends And Breakage
Shea butter exerts moisturizing and regenerative effects on the hair and scalp.
This strengthens the hair strands and reduces breakage.
Being rich in vitamins A and E, it soothes dry hair and mends split ends.
15. Effective Natural Conditioner
The presence of vitamins A and E makes shea butter an excellent choice as a natural conditioner.
It is highly effective in locking in moisture, without leaving the hair greasy or heavy.
16. Softening Brittle Hair
Shea butter is great for softening and revitalizing brittle hair.
Due to its non-greasy nature, it helps to control and spread the excess oil in the scalp.
Massaging the hair with generous amounts of shea butter can give you soft, silky, and luscious tresses.
This benefit of shea butter is applicable for dry as well as fragile, curly hair.
Shea butter should be applied twice a week for hair growth.
This will improve the hair texture and moisturize the hair.
Shea Butter Benefits For Health
17. Soothes Muscle Aches
Muscular pain results from inflammation at the affected site due to exertion or a muscular ailment.
Traditionally, shea butter has been extensively used in Africa to relieve muscle aches and soreness.
Even though there is no concrete proof for this, feedback from people who have used shea butter to massage the affected site showed that they noticed a reduction in the swelling as well as the pain.
Rheumatism is characterized by joint pain, inflammation, and stiffness.
The pain and swelling can be present in the muscles or the fibrous tissue.
Shea butter is used as an ointment on the parts of the body affected by rheumatism to relieve the swelling and pain.
Its anti-inflammatory properties are of key importance here as rheumatism is basically an inflammatory disease.
A chronic joint disorder that is often associated with increasing age, obesity and trauma, arthritis can be very painful for people who suffer from it.
The pain is almost constant and disrupts basic movement and the quality of life in an arthritis patient.
Shea butter has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Arthritis patients have shown excellent results in alleviating swelling and pain with shea butter.
20. Nasal Inflammation And Nasal Congestion
The next time you experience nasal congestion, all you need to do is apply some shea butter in your nostrils.
This might sound weird, but it works.
Nasal congestion is often a result of inflammation of the inner linings of the nasal passages.
The anti-inflammatory compounds of shea butter can reduce this inflammation and clear your nostrils.
In a study conducted to test the efficacy of shea butter, the participants experienced nasal congestion clearance in a minute or less.