Shea butter is acclaimed for its moisturizing, protective and regenerative properties. Here are some tips for using it well and enjoying its many benefits.
What is shea butter?
Shea butter is a compact ointment made from the fruit of shea nuts, a tree growing only in the savannahs of West Africa. Also known as “women’s gold”, this butter was traditionally produced by African women in rural areas who managed all their stages of production in a traditional way, from harvesting fruit to extracting vegetable oil.
While the vast majority of the world’s shea butter production is for food, its virtues for the skin and hair make it today one of the ingredients in many cosmetics products, in addition to being in addition acclaimed by the followers of the cosmetics “house”.
The benefits of shea butter for the skin
Because of its composition, shea butter is a great ally for the skin. It is rich in essential fatty acids, which improve the barrier function of the skin and microcirculation, vitamins A and E, which protect cells from free radicals and slow skin aging, and latex, which absorbs UV and gives back flexibility to the skin.
Another of the great peculiarities of this white gold, whose name means “life” in Mandingo language, is its exceptional richness (between 7 and 15%) in unsaponifiables. These unsaponifiables are the elements of vegetable oil that can not turn into soap in contact with soda and that preserve all the properties and virtues of shea.
The virtues of shea butter for the hair
If shea butter is good for the skin, its virtues are also very interesting for hair care! Thanks to the fatty acids and unsaponifiable resinous esters it contains, it hydrates the hair fiber deeply. Rich in vitamins, it also helps nourish the hair and preserve external aggressions (sun, rain, wind, pollution etc.).
For curly and frizzy hair, shea is a real blessing: because it has the power to deeply moisturize each loop, it makes it easier for sebum to circulate all over the hair shaft. Result, the lengths are reinforced, gain flexibility, and frizz are controlled.
How to integrate shea butter into one’s beauty routine?
Shea butter is the flagship asset of many beauty products for the face, body and hair. But to make the most of its many benefits, it is best to use it raw, or mixed with other complementary natural ingredients (essential oils, vegetable oils, vegetable butters, etc.) in a “homemade” preparation.
To pamper your skin, take a small amount of shea butter with a clean spoon, then melt the material between the palms of your hands to obtain an oil easy to apply on the face as on the body . Do not panic if, at first glance, you find the rendering a little fat: shea butter is quickly absorbed by the skin. To plunge your skin into a bubble of sweetness, you can also melt a few nuts of butter in the water of a hot bath.
To restore softness and vigor to your damaged hair and / or very dry, you can offer them a regenerating mask with shea butter. For that, it is enough to heat a little butter in your hands then to apply it on all your hair. Then wrap your hair in a warm towel and leave the treatment between 30 minutes and overnight. After a good shampoo, essential to remove surplus product, your hair will already look better. When styling, you can also apply a small amount of product on your tips to feed them and fight against the forks.
How to choose your shea butter?
Shea is a popular product and more and more brands of cosmetics and agri-food offer this ointment so valuable in their catalog. Only, it is important to read the label of the product before putting it in his shopping cart physical or virtual, because all butters are not equal.
Whenever possible, opt for unrefined shea butter. Indeed, refining, in addition to being a polluting technique for the environment, destroys between 50 and 80% of the natural properties of shea. Refined shea butter is therefore not very interesting for beauty treatments. Small advice to recognize a natural butter: when it is fresh and of quality, it is pale yellow or beige, has a melting texture and releases a greedy smell of nuts.
And as long as you’re there, prefer a “fair” shea butter, that is to say that guarantees the respect of producers, improves their income and supports the economic development of their communities.