If you’re on this page, you’ve probably heard a lot about Shea Butter, it’s benefits and uses. In this post, we’re going to answer some frequently asked questions about Shea Butter’s use, especially on the face.
WHAT IS SHEA BUTTER?
Shea is extracted fat from the African shea tree commonly found in West Africa, extremely rich in fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins. It is produced through the harvesting, washing, and processing of shea nuts, from which Vitamin E oil is extracted. Shea is solid at room temperatures and has an off-white or ivory color. Shea butter is often best applied over night and with a regular skin care routine.
Raw shea also contains five essential fatty acids that balance oils (including VItamin E) on your body. It has anti-aging traits similar to those found in green tea that help with skin elasticity. The butter has various uses; apart from being a moisturizer for your face, it’s also used for hair care and cooking. The butter is edible and has been used for various dishes in African homes for so many years. There are multiple advantages of using shea butter products on your body; however, it depends on the type of shea butter it contains.
TYPES OF SHEA BUTTER
There are four (4) types of shea; raw, unrefined, refined, and ultra-refined all of which are natural moisturizers. Although they are all extracted using the same basic processing technique, they vary in color, ingredients, and scent, with different benefits. Additional processing such as filtering, changing its composition, removing any impurities, smell, and color alteration account for the different types of shea.
Raw Shea contains certain impurities because it is not filtered in any way. It has a smoky smell, which comes from it being roasted before the oil is extracted (a key ingredient). Raw shea butter is usually a deep yellow or even greenish if processed nuts were not fully ripe.
Unrefined shea is similar to raw shea, but unrefined shea butter can be filtered as long as the filtering methods don’t affect its quality. Unrefined shea cannot contain chemicals and preservatives. At the end of filtering, unrefined shea is beige colored and has a nutty scent (by product of the raw ingredients). Some people prefer unrefined shea because it is the purest form of shea and the least processed, but many skincare products contain refined and ultra-refined shea butter.
Refined shea usually undergoes processes of filtering and odor removing. It contains certain perfumes, preservatives and has fewer nutrients than raw and unrefined butter.
Ultra-refined shea goes through a refinement process —at least two filtering systems resulting in a change in its composition and loss of nutrients. It is better suited for use in high-end cosmetics and toiletries. Producers of beauty products such as lotions and cosmetics usually filter ultra-refined shea butter and deodorize it using natural clays. Refined and ultra-refined shea products are visually appealing, easier to use, and they feel more luxurious. Unfortunately, the body moisturizing and healing capabilities are reduced during the refinement process.
SHEA BUTTER AND YOUR SKIN
You’ve probably wondered a couple of times if Shea is right for your face and body. I’ve seen some people on Twitter talk about how using shea butter on your body is not a good idea as it could clog your pores and eventually lead to breakouts. In this post, we’ll clarify some misconceptions about using Shea Butter facials, but to do that, we have to highlight some advantages of Shea.
Promoting overall skin health
Shea, whether raw or refined, is known for its smooth consistency and moisturizing superpowers (drawn from it’s wholesome ingredients). It has an impressive concentration of natural vitamins and fatty acids, making it exceedingly nourishing and moisturizing. These advantages result from containing five fatty acids; linoleic, oleic, stearic, and palmitic acids. Also, shea’s fatty acid content makes it the perfect remedy for dry or sensitive skin (even your hair) as it helps protects the body’s natural oils due in part of the vitamin E oil found in shea butter. Our body temperature allows the body to effortlessly absorb shea butter, effectively providing moisture without clogging the pores.
Other essential oils such as lavender oil, coconut oil, eucalyptus oil, vanilla oil, and castor oil can be added to give it an extra-moisturizing effect. My sisters and I usually add a few drops of carrot oil to our Shea , and it leaves you feeling moisturized. If you want a fresh face, you can check out these homemade recipes for using shea for your face.
Anti-inflammatory and healing properties
Shea soothes the skin and relieves itching due to its anti-inflammatory or oily skins properties. Researchers believe this is because shea contains the chemical compound amyrin, which has well-documented anti-inflammatory characteristics. It is incredibly advantages in treating inflammatory conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, reducing redness and swelling. The fatty acid property also soothes the skin by retaining moisture during the healing process.
Eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis: How to use shea butter to treat skin conditions
First, wash your face or use a medicated cleanser to clear away any dead skin, oil, and other residues. Apply a thin layer of shea to areas that are prone to breakouts or inflammatory conditions. Dermatologists recommend that you leave raw Shea on your body for approximately 8 hours (or overnight). It’s best to do this overnight for added moisturizers effect.
Wrinkles, fine lines, and aging
Shea has impressive levels of vitamins A and E, which promotes healthy antioxidant activity to prevent dry skin. Antioxidants are essential anti-aging agents that protect skin cells from free radicals, which can cause premature aging and dull-looking skin. Aided by a scrub, it reduces fine lines and wrinkles on your face (your whole body in fact) and results in plumper, healthier and less oily skin conditions. Shea also helps promote cell regeneration—it’s moisturizing and antioxidant aid work together to help you generate healthy new cells (you can thank vitamin e oil for that).
Fighting dry lips
Shea emollient properties make it a natural remedy for dry, cracked lips and dead skin cells. Chapped lips can easily absorb shea during winter or cold weather to make them soft.
Beware of breakouts!
Butter for acne has several advantages, but when it comes to acne, there is some conflicting research. Some studies indicate that the anti-inflammatory value of shea can soothe a breakout. While others recommend faces prone to acne should avoid pure shea butter as it could lead to fungal acne.
OTHER POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS
Shea is generally safe to use; however, it’s best to avoid it if you have allergic reactions to nuts (unavoidable natural ingredient). If you’re not sure if shea will cause irritations on your body, it is advisable to apply a small amount to a tiny area of your body (avoiding facial skin). Discontinue use immediately and visit your doctor or dermatologist if there is any reaction or irritations on your skin. They can help determine what’s causing your symptoms and advise you on the next steps.
Storing Shea can prove a challenge because its buttery constituents make it vulnerable to heat and high temperature. No matter the shea butter’s state, it must be kept in a cool, dark place!
Here are some ways to store your shea
Ziplock plastic bag helps to keep the air out and can be used several times. Whenever you need it, unzip the bag, scoop out the quantity you want, and zip it up.
A plastic container with a lid is suitable because it is lighter and can be placed anywhere. You can store your shea butter in plastic containers as it does not break easily.
A Glass container with a lid is sturdy and insulating. It is also easy for scooping out and placing back on the shelf.
Storing it in a refrigerator is also recommended if you want your Shea butter hard. Your refrigerator is the best place to store raw shea immediately after purchase, especially if you’re not ready to use it just yet.
Contrary to popular beliefs, shea body butter does not clog your pores. Shea vitamins and fatty acids contents make it an ideal natural skincare product. For centuries, it has been used in cosmetics to calm and hydrate.
Still not convinced? You can read more on the benefits of shea butter online.