The shea butter benefits for skin are vast. Raw shea butter that is unfiltered has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, is soothing to sensitive skin, encourages collagen production, has intense moisturizing properties and can even reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles! Most skin types and skin conditions can benefit from shea butter. In this post you’ll learn everything you need to know about this incredible natural ingredient!
I LOVE shea butter. It’s in my top 5 DIY ingredient must-haves but I actually don’t always end up putting it in a recipe. I like to use it all on it’s own! Shea butter has so many amazing properties. Basically, you get a lot of bang for your buck with shea butter. It has tons of uses and offers so many benefits for not only the skin but also the hair! Let’s dive into the skin benefits of shea butter!
What is Shea Butter?
Shea butter comes from the fat extracted from the shea nuts of the shea tree in West Africa. It has been used for centuries to nourish skin and hair and is edible and high in essential fatty acids, like coconut oil. In fact, it is said that even Cleopatra and the Queen of Sheba used shea butter for beauty purposes! Unlike cocoa butter or kokum butter, shea butter is semi soft at room temperature and can be directly applied to the skin as a moisturizer.
It is solid at room temperature and typically yellow in color. It is a softer butter that is somewhat scoopable and melts when it comes in contact with the skin. It has a very distinct smell that I find lovely. I also find that the smell works well when combined with lavender and citrus essential oils.
Why Vitamin A & E are Important in Anti Aging:
Shea butter is packed with vitamins A & E which are incredibly useful when it comes to anti aging. These 2 antioxidants are fantastic at combatting free radicals which come from environmental and internal factors that age our skin. This is also where the powerful antioxidant properties of shea butter come in.
Vitamin A is where shea butter gets it’s ability to encourage the production of collagen. Vitamin A is vital in cell turnover which helps to smooth and firm skin.
Cell turnover is vital to radian skin. Between antioxidants E & A and shea’s moisturizing properties, cell turnover becomes much more efficient. Because new cells are right beneath the surface and lay underneath old, dead cells, shea butter encourages those dead cells to slough away, revealing new, fresh skin.
Shea butter is very rich in Vitamin E which has the highest antioxidant level. Antioxidants are vital because they fight aging and skin damage. Our skin naturally contains vitamin E but like collagen, as we age they both get depleted. Vitamin E also helps to boost moisture levels in the skin.
Shea Butter Benefits for Skin:
- High in vitamin A which encourages the production of collagen.
- Strong healing properties-heals and repairs skin.
- Intense moisturizing effects-results are INSTANT!
- Repairs and hydrates the scalp and hair.
- High levels of linoleic acid which is great for supporting oily skin and acne-prone skin.
- Smooths & evens skin tone.
- Reduces the appearance of stretch marks and scar tissue.
- Prevents and relieves diaper rash due to it’s anti-fungal and antibacterial properties.
- Has an SPF of 6-10.
- Relieves psoriasis and eczema symptoms.
- Soothes skin rashes and hives.
- Offers quick relief for irritated skin.
- Protects the skin from harsh climates as well as pollution.
- Non-comedogenic. (won’t clog pores)
- Anti-inflammatory effects. (reduces swelling and redness)
- High in Vitamin E.
- Contains phenols, the same antioxidants found in green tea.
- Helps stop the itching of stretching skin.
- Long shelf life.
How to Use Shea Butter:
The uses for shea butter are simple yet vast. I personally have been using a small amount of shea butter on the ends of my hair. The shea butter is helping to repair my hair from dryness and damage as well as tame and smooth hair strands. I find using a small amount of shea butter on my hands and feet greatly help with dry, cracked skin. I have also been known to dab a small amount under my eyes for hydration, collagen stimulation and skin smoothing. Plus, it gives a lovely glow!
As for using it in DIY skin care, shea butter is excellent in lip balms. Adding just a bit to a lip balm recipe can make a balm thicker and much more moisturizing! I absolutely love it in my shea butter lotion as well. I use it in my solid eye stick and my dry skin stick which are some of the most nourishing recipes I have.
Should you grab a jar of shea butter and apply it straight to your skin? You can… However, I would prefer adding it to a recipe. Straight shea butter can tend to be a bit greasy and take forever to sink into your skin. If you do decide to use it straight out of the container, remember, a little goes a very long way. It’s not at all like a lotion which contains 50%+ water. A tiny amount will deliver big results but too much will sit on top of the skin and be wasted.
What Skin Type Can Benefit from Shea Butter?
All skin types can benefit from shea butter. Dry skin is greatly relieved from using shea butter which is probably what you would expect. But did you know that shea butter is non-comedogenic? That means it will not clog your pores. Plus, it’s effective anti inflammatory properties help to reduce redness and skin irritation caused by acne. It actually contains high levels of oleic, stearic and linoleic fatty acids that help to balance your skin’s natural oils.
Oily skin can benefit from using shea butter as well. Overly oily skin is often a result of the skin over producing oil because it has gotten the signal that there is not enough. This is typically because people with oily skin tend to treat the issue by using harsh soaps and treatments that strip their skin of it’s natural sebum. Once the skin gets the memo that there is enough oil, it stops producing too much oil. Using oils and butters on oily skin seems counterproductive but it is actually the answer to balancing the skin. Be aware that you will only need to use very small amounts of oils and butters on oily skin. A little can go a long way and in my experience, shea butter tends to sit on top of the skin if too much is used.
Aging skin drinks up shea butter and I add it to many of my anti aging recipes due to it’s abundance of vitamins and effect it has on collagen. Plus, moisturized skin is plump, healthy and often has the appearance of less wrinkles. According to the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, shea butter contains many of the same antioxidants found in green tea which which says a lot when it comes to anti aging power.
Where to Buy Shea Butter:
I have tried many, many different shea butters. I have landed on what I think is the best at Mountain Rose Herbs. They have the best smelling unrefined, organic shea butter around. The quality is amazing and they are affordable. Mountain Rose Herb’s unrefined shea butter is organic, 100% pure and raw.
If you end up searching for shea butter on Amazon, be sure to look for the word, UNREFINED. Raw is another good word to look for. Also check to make sure shea butter is the only ingredient. Go for organic if you can find it and check that the origin is Africa. Sometimes companies will add other ingredients to save money so be absolutely sure it is pure, non adulterated shea butter.
Shea Butter Side Effects & Precautions:
It is very rare but some people are sensitive to shea butter and can have an allergic reaction. Signs of an allergic reactions are skin swelling, rash, hives, itching and redness. If you are concerned about having a possible reaction, perform a patch test on the inside of your arm and wait 24 hours before using it on your face.
If you are allergic to nuts, shea butter is safe even though it comes from a nut. Allergens are proteins and shea butter is made entirely of fat. Interestingly enough, raw shea butter does contain latex so if you have a latex allergy you will need to stick with the refined shea butter or skip it entirely.
Typically adding shea butter to a recipe will dilute the butter enough that sensitive people won’t have an issue.
If you haven’t tried shea butter, try it asap! It’s a powerhouse ingredient that can be added to so many different recipes!