The use of shea butter dates back to the era of Cleopatra, when she would carry clay jars of Shea Butter wherever she travelled. It has been used as a cosmetic and therapeutic lotion for thousands of years now. Back then, there were no sun blocks or moisturizers and Shea Butter was the one stop product for skin care. Shea was a very popular trade commodity during the Middle Ages and its popularity was spread throughout West Africa and its coastal regions.
What is the origin of Shea Butter?
Shea butter is extracted from the oily nuts that exist on top of the Karite trees in West Africa. After Africans found the benefits of shea, soon enough the European market was flourishing with demand for the same. It was generally sold as oil then. Gradually, through this trade, more uses began to crop up, turning the plain old shea into other products such as body lotion, soap and nasal decongestant.
The process of extracting shea butter is diverse. The most viable method, that keeps the essence of the Butter intact, is cold pressed extraction. This method comes without added chemicals and substances. To reduce the cost of production and increase the quantity of production, organic shea butter is injected with artificial flavours and enhancements. It is always advisable to buy pure and organic shea butter, without any added fragrances or benefits.
Why should you use Shea Butter?
Shea butter, unrefined, is an off-white coloured fatty substance. It doesn’t have the texture of butter; it is more along the lumpy type. If you use 100% pure, unrefined, raw shea butter, skin conditions such as blemishes and wrinkles, stretch marks from a pregnancy, muscle fatigue and dermatitis etc. will find respite. Shea butter is a very organic source of vitamin A, vitamin E, and stearic and oleic acids. Due to its high content of vitamins A and E, it is enriched in relatively high quantities of saturated fatty acids like MCT oil (Medium-Chain Triglycerides, that has numerous health benefits like improved cognition and weight management) when compared to olive oil, canola oil etc.
Shea butter does not liquefy at room temperature; however, it will soften once you rub it in between your palms, making it rather easy to apply. Raw shea butter is exceptionally moisturizing and hydrating. Upon application on the skin, it provides instant softness and smoothness.
Did you know: Shea butter is also rumored to be an anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor promoting compound. It is known to boost collagen production in the body, further forming an anti-ageing solution.
6 Benefits of shea butter
1. Shea butter is used for skin care
Most skin care products contain synthetics or are synthesised synthetically. These synthetics form the base or primary ingredients in your regular beauty products like lotions, creams, eye makeup, facial makeup and lipsticks, etc.
In complete contrast to these products, raw Shea Butter is a great natural source to use as a moisturizer, giving the skin a nice glow. It provides hydration to the skin; and therefore, can be used as a skin conditioner. Opt for organic, raw Shea Butter, with natural ingredients and no additives.
2. Shea butter provides anti-ageing properties
Raw Shea Butter is found to have cell-regenerative properties, which softens the skin and reduces wrinkles. The American Journal of Life Sciences performed a clinical study which involved 30 volunteers. It was reported that Shea Butter diminished the various signs of aging. As mentioned above, it is also known to increase collagen production, which is crucial for developing skin strength.
3. Shea butter moisturizes both scalp and hair
Shea Butter has moisture sealing properties. It helps in moisturizing, conditioning and relieving dandruff too. Regular use will also provide overall protection from harsh and harmful climatic conditions that are prevalent in our cities these days.
How to use: You can use it on your scalp, hair or both like any other oil. Slightly warm the shea butter, only enough to soften it. Rub it thoroughly through your hair and scalp. For best results, leave it on your hair for up to 20–30 minutes. Continue to rinse, shampoo and condition as you would any other day.
4. Shea butter relieves sun burns and dry skin conditions
The high fat content in Shea Butter, its moisturizing and hydrating properties, make it an excellent alternative to using lotions for dry skin during winters. It’s perfect for cracked and dry heels, hands, elbows and knees.
While the SPF level of Shea Butter is about 6, it is still able to provide some sun-protection. This is beneficial because it is all natural, compared to conventional sun screens which have chemicals in it. Apply it underneath your makeup to keep your skin protected and it holds your makeup in place.
5. Shea butter reduces stretch marks
Due to its extensive healing and hydrating qualities, Shea Butter can be used to stop/reduce the appearance of stretch marks and scars. This is possible due to the natural skin softening abilities of Shea Butter.
6. Shea butter prevents diaper rash
Shea butter can be used as an ointment for diaper rash, be it for your baby or the elderly in the house. It boasts of anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties, which help fight off yeast. Both cell regeneration and collagen production properties of shea butter are significant to healing diaper rashes quickly. This is the perfect alternative to avoid those chemical induced baby creams and ensure ease and restoration of your baby’s healthy skin.
There is a reason behind this one product of history, still finding its way into our lives today. The numerous health and beauty benefits of shea butter makes it a great addition to your beauty regimen as well as daily moisturizing needs. Be mindful of buying products rich in shea butter and always opt for the raw, unrefined kind. This is so because the addition of industrial components takes away the natural benefits of the compound. Introduce it to your skin and stick to it; you’ll see the difference in a few days.