You’ve probably heard of shea butter from shampoo and lotion commercials, but did you know it has a long history of beautifying people’s skin and hair? Even Cleopatra was said to have used shea butter as a cosmetic.
So, what makes shea butter a miracle beauty ingredient? We’ll find out in a bit.
Whether you’re just curious about an ingredient in your cream, or you’ve been a long-time fan of shea butter products, it’s interesting to know its origins. Extracted from the seeds of the karite (or shea) trees in West Africa, shea butter was initially used as an oil. Over thousands of years, it has been used to enhance food, soaps, balms, shampoos, medicine, and even lamp oils.
Because of shea butter’s vitamin and fatty acid content, along with its consistency, it has become one of the most popular natural skincare ingredients. Plus, despite coming from tree nuts, it has low allergy-triggering protein contents. It also does not dry skin nor clog pores. So, it’s appropriate for all skin types.
Let’s take a look at the specific benefits of shea butter for your skin and hair.
Shea is mostly known for its moisturizing properties. If you apply shea directly on your skin, it is rapidly absorbed. Additionally, as a moisturizer, it promotes hair and scalp health. It creates moisture and even restores the skin’s barriers to prevent moisture from seeping out. And did we mention that raw shea butter is a completely natural moisturizing product? Organic shea butter with no fragrances and chemical additives is best to use for maximum moisture and lower risk of irritation and dryness.
Since we’re on the subject of moisture, shea butter is also a effective for soothing chapped lips, which we’re more likely to have in colder months. A shea butter-based lip product can protect and moisture your skin any time of the year, however. So, whether you’re repairing damage or preventing dryness, shea butter is a worthy addition to your lip care products. Cracked heels, hands, elbows, or knees may also be treated with shea butter. Still, understanding different moisturizer options you may need for different seasons is essential.
Unprocessed shea butter can promote cell regeneration. That is why you often find it in creams that soften skin and reduce wrinkles. Studies show that shea butter also stimulates collagen production, which improves the strength and elasticity of your skin.
Additionally, shea butter has naturally-occurring triterpenes, which are compounds that fight against collagen fiber destruction. As a result, shea butter users will notice minimized fine lines and plumper skin.
With an estimated SPF of 3 to 4, shea butter can’t be a substitute for sunscreen but it gives you much-needed extra protection from UV rays. So, layering it on top of your favorite sunscreen is a good idea.
Shea butter can also help relieve the after-effects of a sunburn. Use it as an after-sun moisturizer to soothe your skin and reduce any inflammation caused by your exposure to the sun.
Eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis — the list of skin concerns that shea butter can help treat goes on. Additionally, it can also prevent acne by ridding your skin of excess oil.
Shea butter’s anti-inflammatory properties make it ideal for soothing itchy skin. So, it’s especially helpful for eczema and psoriasis, and other inflammatory skin conditions. Because shea is quickly absorbed by the skin, it can provide instant relief for flare-ups.
On the other hand, shea butter is also thought to prevent scar tissue from reproducing while encouraging healthy cells to grow in their place. That’s how it minimizes the appearance of scars and stretch marks.
Shea oil is often used for the hair because it’s easier to apply on strands in that form. Shea oil helps smooth your hair by taming frizz and detangling your locks. Plus, it helps promote hair follicle growth. In relation to that, a 2017 study of a similar bioactive-rich seed found that seed oil can help prevent hair breakage. So, shea not only stimulates hair growth but may also make hair stronger.
Restoring scalp moisture is one way to treat dandruff. Fortunately, shea butter’s moisturizing properties also apply to the scalp. Additionally, since it conditions and nourishes the scalp, it also helps with the dryness and itchiness that comes with dandruff.
Shea butter is not called a miracle seed for nothing. It’s a natural moisturizer that also helps minimize signs of aging, protects against UV rays, treats inflammation and irritation on the scalp and skin, and smooths and strengthens your hair.