Shea butter benefits the skin in a number of ways. It is from the nut of the African shea tree (Butyrospermin parkii). The thick, semi-solid butter is extracted through an age-old process and is a rich moisturizer. Be sure to purchase only unrefined, pure shea butter. I like to buy shea butter at Mountain Rose Herbs.
Traditionally used in Africa all over the body and hair, shea butter offers protection from the elements of wind and sun. it has a sun protective factor of approximately 6 and is often used to augment sunblocks, with its UVB protection. For dry, cracked skin and brittle hair, shea butter is one of the finest natural products available.
Shea butter benefits nails and cuticles by strengthening and healing.
It is wonderful for mature skin, where the emollient properties will help to slow down the aging process and the antioxidant activities decrease skin damage from stressors.
Shea butter is often used in formulations ranging from creams, body butters and balms. Due to its triglyceride composition, shea butter can form bumps, blooms and crystals when used as part of a formulation. This is due to cooling temperatures and it is only a cosmetic issue. Check out this article on Shea Butter Uses.
I like to add it to face creams for dry and mature skin or use it straight. It is particularly wonderful in the cold, dry weather that we have here in the winters as it’s quite rich and thick. Shea butter benefits the lips as well and makes a protective and moisturizing lip balm.
Shea butter softens and smooths the skin and is an anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory natural skin remedy. Click to read more about shea butter benefits.
It is often used to prevent and heal stretch marks, scars and lines. When I was pregnant with my son, I made and used a body balm blend of shea butter, cocoa butter and coconut oil. This was a thick, viscous butter that I applied almost daily all over my body. I am a rather tiny person and gained quite a bit of weight but did not form any stretch marks!
Shea butter has a long history of use as a base for medicinal ointments, also known as salves. To the base of shea butter, powdered herbs can be added, or melt the shea and use to make an herbal oil using the stovetop or yogurt-maker method.
Here is a handy list of ailments shea butter is used for:
- Dark spots and discolorations
- Anti-irritant for psoriasis
- As a hair conditioner for itchy, dry scalp issues
- To increase hair luster
- For skin elasticity (what makes the skin supple and resilient)
- To smooth skin after shaving
- For the feet, to heal cracked heels
- Burns including sunburn