What are Shea Butter benefits for our skin and hair and how to use it at home? Shea butter is a fat extracted from the nut of the African shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa). This amazing product has been known to humanity for more than 2 thousand years. In Egyptian mythology, it is even believed that the beauty secret of Queen Nefertiti lies precisely in the use of this valuable miracle oil. Leaving aside legends and myths, the fact is that shea is widely used in the pharmacology and cosmetics industry.
How is shea butter extracted? As we mentioned above, the butter is obtained from the nuts of Shea tree. The fruits are very similar to avocados in appearance, but much smaller in size. To obtain the butter is a long process. The nuts are ripe in the rainy season. African women collect the fallen fruit and bury it in baskets in the ground so that the skin will rot. The kernels are crushed and ground into an oily chocolate paste. The paste is boiled and the oil is skimmed off after removing the scum containing the impurities. Another peculiarity that makes the unrefined shea butter so valuable is the high concentration of the so-called unsaponifiable ingredients This means that these molecules are not dissolved by the contact with the water, but “saponified”. Natural butter is solid at warm temperature and begins to melt only at a temperature of about 40 degrees C. It has an off-white or ivory color.
Shea Butter benefits – what are the useful components?
Nowadays, more and more often women are looking for hair and skin care products with natural ingredients. The time of artificial additives and chemical elements has passed, now every woman understands that the best comes from nature. Shiny and strong hair and smooth skin are an integral part of a healthy and beautiful image and proper care is a priority for every woman. Nothing gives the hair a natural shine and smoothness than natural oils. Shea butter is especially known for its nutritional properties and will become a necessity for the care of damaged hair, split ends, dry scalp and itching. Shea extract can be used separately and as a part of finished cosmetic products. It is believed that, along with coconut oil, Shea butter is one of the best natural hair nutrients. Let’s find out what properties Shea has, why it is especially useful for weak hair and how to use it properly.
The composition of shea butter is an invaluable source of vitamins, microelements and biologically active components. It contains large quantities of essential amino acid Omega 9, which is not synthesized by the human body, but is necessary for normal metabolism and other vital processes. Karite contains up to 55% Oleic acid which is known for its moisturizing properties. It spreads well and ensures a soft skin feeling. Shea butter also contains the following components:
- Stearic acif forms a thin layer and protects the skin from external influences like exposure to high temperature and UV rays. It is often used as a consistency agent in various creams and is used in soap making to make the soap firm and to stabilize its foam.
- Palmitic acid is a natural source of energy, promotes the synthesis of collagen and hyaluronic acid, necessary for the regeneration of the skin.
- Linoleic acid is recommended especially beneficial for dry, sensitive and irritated skin. It provides a lot of moisture and has anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps with acne, pimples and many other skin problems. It also has a good anti-aging effect and helps against hyperpigmentation.
- terpene alcohol – gives shea butter a characteristic odor, facilitates the transport of nutrients into the deeper layers of the skin.
- polyphenols – antioxidants that slow down the aging process, reduce inflammation
- vitamin E and A, which activate the blood circulation process in the scalp, improves oxygen supply to the hair follicle, eliminate dryness and itching of the skin. In addition, vitamins A and E are powerful antioxidants that stimulate new hair growth and protect against the damaging effects of free radicals.
- Omega 6 – polyunsaturated fatty acid, which is necessary for the rapid restoration of the skin and hair structure
- Omega 3 – revitalizes hair, makes it smooth and shiny.
- Zinc, calcium and iron, responsible for the restoration of damaged hair.
What are Shea Butter properties and benefits? Here is a list which describes its phenomenal qualities:
The main function of Shea butter is softening and nourishing the structure of the hair or scalp, so it is exceptionally valuable for the treatment of dry epidermis and severely damaged hair structures.
Cosmetic products containing Shea are quite strong, with a pleasant woody and nutty aroma. When butter comes into contact with warm skin of the hands, it literally melts which makes its use simple and convenient at home.
Shea butter is excellent for fragile and weak hair as it strengthens hair follicles. It treats weak hair from the inside and gives it a healthy appearance and a noticeable shine.
It prevents hair loss and split ends.
Shea butter copes with dandruff and itching of the skin, eliminates almost all known problems caused by external factors – heat treatments, frequent washing, tight braids, unfavorable environment.
It is safe for all skin types as it is a natural product which does not contain chemical irritants and does not clog pores.
Shea butter has a great moisturizing effect. It is rapidly absorbed and retains moisture in the skin without an oily look.
It has great anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties and relieves irritation and itching. That is why it is widely used for skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis.
Shea butter is a strong antioxidant due to the high levels of vitamins A and E. Antioxidants are important as anti-aging agents as they protet the skin from premature aging.
Helps preventing acne. This is due to the rich content of different fatty acids which clear the skin and keep it moisturized.
Shea butter helps to collagen production as well as cell regeneration which, in turn, minimizes the appearance of fine wrinkles.
Helps and soothes sunburns and skin burn. In addition, it can be used as a sunscreen as it has an SPF of 3 to 4. You can apply it over your sunscreen product to provide additional protection.
Another benefit of Shea butter is that it can soothe insect bites, relieve itching and reduce swelling.
This is not a complete list of Shea Butter properties and benefits as it can deal with many other problems like wound healing, etc. Shea butter is universal and can be used successfully for both hair and skin care.An important feature of the product is that is is easily accessible and is available at pharmacies and cosmetic stores.
How to choose and store Shea butter?
Shea butter is sold in pharmacies, cosmetic stores and websites specialized in soap making or natural cosmetics. One very important thing that you need to remember when buying this product is that Shea trees are native to West Africa, and most shea butter still comes from that region. Always check the country of origin! Further to that, it is good to know that there is a classification for the different quality levels (from A to F), with grade A being the best.
As we already said, Shea butter comes in two types – unrefined and refined. The unrefined butter is considered to be more effective and is characterized by a yellowish-white color, a pleasant oil-nut flavor, and the texture resembles margarine. Because it is cold pressed, i. e. extracted manually, it retains its vitamins, minerals and natural ingredients. It is absorbed quicker into the skin and leaves no greasy film. It should be kept in an airtight container in a cool and dry place. It should not be exposed to sunlight. It is recommended to use the product within 18 months after extraction from the seeds, as the beneficial properties may decrease over time. The unrefined variety is often found in moisturizing products like shampoos, masks, conditioners, balms, and other cosmetic products
Refined Shea butter is chemically processed and, unfortunately, loses most of its exceptional properties. It has white color and texture similar to wax. There is no pronounced smell.