Shea butter comes from the nut of the karite shea tree that is indigenous to Africa. Raw, unrefined shea butter contains vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A and E, as well as essential fatty acids. It has a creamy color and a very distinct smell. It has been used for centuries for its moisturizing, anti-inflammatory and antiaging properties.
Shea butter has the ability to soothe, hydrate and balance your skin. It is used as a moisturizer for dry skin and eczema, as a dry scalp treatment, for chapped lips and to help soften cracked dry skin on heels, elbows and knees. It is important, according to the American Shea Butter Institute, to make sure unrefined shea butter is used. Raw shea butter maintains its therapeutic qualities and will keep your skin moist and supple, whereas refined, processed shea butter loses almost all of its healing properties. Dr. Robyn Tisdale Scott, a clinical pharmacist, concurs with the American Shea Butter Institute, supporting the claim that unrefined shea butter reverses dry skin in about three days.
Shea butter has natural anti-inflammatory properties that have been known to heal scrapes, cuts and burns; relieve sunburn and rashes; take the sting out of insect bites; and ease the pain from muscle fatigue and arthritis. A study published in a 2010 issue of the “Journal of Oleo Science” by Toshihiro Akihisa and colleagues found that shea fat has significant anti-inflammatory properties. The study showed a remarkable reduction of inflammation in mice suffering from edema. After being given shea fat compounds, the inflammation was reduced by over 45 percent. Another study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology by the Department of Pharmacology at the College of Medicine of the University of Lagos concluded that shea butter is an effective nasal decongestant. Participants were given two to four applications of shea butter in the nasal cavity, and within just 12 to 24 hours they showed no signs of inflammation, congestion or nasal damage.
Shea butter has been used for centuries as a wrinkle reducer. Shea butter contains essential fatty acids, along with vitamins A and E, which are imperative to maintaining your skin’s elasticity and suppleness. In a clinical study done by Frank Renard, Ph.D., shea butter was found to have significant antiaging properties and was proven to help rebuild and rejuvenate collagen. Participants in this study were given shea butter to use as a balm to massage on their skin for four to eight months. The results showed clearer, brighter skin; less wrinkles; and even less sun damage.
Benefits Of Shea Butter For The Skin
Incorporating shea butter into your regular skin care routine will work wonders. Check out here.
1. Moisturizes Dry Skin
Shea butter is an excellent moisturizer for the face and the body. Its fat content is responsible for its emollient and humectant properties . It locks in the moisture in the skin and keeps it hydrated for long. Dehydrated and dry skin becomes rough and scaly. Certain areas of the body can even develop skin cracks due to dryness. Shea butter can nourish the skin with its fat content. It can also help to soften the skin on your hands and feet and make it supple. It penetrates the skin easily, without clogging the pores, and is effective for dry skin.
Use shea butter to heal cracked heels, dry cuticles, and rough patches on your skin. You can also use it to simply moisturize your skin during the colder months.
2. Treats Acne And Blemishes
Shea butter is known for its healing properties, which can be attributed to the presence of several fatty acids and plant sterols such as oleic, palmitic, stearic, and linolenic acids. These oil-soluble components do not undergo saponification or convert into soap on coming in contact with alkalis. Shea butter is more non-saponifiable than other nut oils and fats, thus imparting it great healing potential. Raw, unrefined shea butter is effective in curing skin rashes, skin peeling after tanning, scars, stretch marks, frost bites, burns, athletes foot, insect bites and stings, and acne
3. Reduces Skin Inflammation
Shea butter has several derivatives of cinnamic acid that exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. These properties make it beneficial for the improvement of skin conditions that result from an increase in inflammatory compounds . Generalized inflammations from conditions like dermatitis and rosacea can be alleviated by using shea butter on the affected area. Sunburns, rashes, cuts, and scrapes that can result in swelling can also be treated using this butter.
4. Anti-Aging And Anti-Free Radical Agent
Shea butter is considered as one of the best anti-aging agents for the skin. It stimulates the production of collagen, the youthful scaffolding protein in the skin. The vitamins A and E found in this butter keep the skin supple, nourished, and radiant. If used regularly, it reduces wrinkles and also prevents premature wrinkles and facial lines. Its anti-aging properties can also be attributed to its ability to increase circulation to the skin and promote cell renewal.
These vitamins, along with catechins, also exert an antioxidant effect against free radicals that damage the skin. These free radicals are often found in our environment in pollutants and irritants. The sun’s rays can also increase the free radicals in our skin, which can easily damage the skin cells. The cinnamic acid esters in the shea fat prevent damage from these compounds by giving your skin an antioxidant boost .
5. Provides Relief To Itchy And Peeling Skin
For itching skin, both the moisturizing and the anti-inflammatory properties of shea butter prove to be beneficial. Dryness can cause your skin to start peeling and/or become flaky. It can cause the skin to itch. The moisturizing fatty acids of shea butter can provide relief by supplying the skin with the oils it needs. If the itching is due to a skin condition like psoriasis, the anti-inflammatory activity of shea butter works really well to alleviate it .
6. Restores The Elasticity Of The Skin
The non-saponifiable matter and vitamin F in this butter are vital ingredients for maintaining the skin’s elasticity. Shea butter also improves the production of collagen in the skin. Thus, its application restores the natural elasticity of the skin besides hydrating, softening, and beautifying it . Restored elasticity also ensures reduced wrinkles and blemishes.
7. Reduce Razor Irritation And Bumps
Shaving hair using razors can often leave your skin irritated and itchy. At times, it might even develop bumps post shaving as a result of the irritation. Shea butter can help reduce this as it moisturizes and soothes the irritated skin. You can also apply the butter a day prior to shaving to smoothen the skin and hair. This will make the shaving process easier and faster and doesn’t leave any irritated spots behind.
8. Reduces Stretch Marks
Shea butter is often used as a base in ointments or creams prepared commercially for stretch mark treatment. This is because it can dramatically help prevent and reduce stretch marks formed during pregnancy due to weight gain and/or weight loss. These marks are formed when the skin stretches beyond its elastic capacity. The application of shea butter will restore the natural elasticity of the skin and also improve collagen production. It is a natural emollient. Daily massage of the affected area with this skin healing butter can lighten stretch marks .
9. Helps Soothe Skin And Baby Diaper Rash
Unrefined shea butter is an excellent natural moisturizer that is devoid of chemicals. Thus, it is ideal for baby care as besides being gentle and soft on the skin, it is specially adapted for the delicate and sensitive skin of babies. It can be applied after a bath and also used for healing eczema or diaper rash on the skin of babies and toddlers.
10. Excellent Lip Care
Shea butter is easily absorbable and provides extra moisture and nutrients that the lips need during the cold season and dry weather conditions. Thus, it acts as a perfect lip balm and is also effective for treating dry and chapped lips. When applied, it forms a barrier on the lips and retains moisture in the skin
After this extensive list of how shea butter can benefit our skin, let us now discuss its benefits for the hair. It is considered as a natural conditioner for the hair, thanks to its moisturizing and healing properties.
Benefits Of Shea Butter For Hair
Let’s also delve deeper into some of the benefits of this miracle butter for your hair care. Some of the numerous shea butter benefits for hair are given below.
11. Repairs Damaged Hair
A number of chemical treatments like straighteners, perms, and curlers are responsible for stripping off the natural moisture from the hair. Shea butter can help restore this lost moisture. It also protects the hair from harsh weather conditions and the harmful free radicals in the air and water. Moreover, shea butter has a low SPF that is sufficient to protect the hair from sun damage caused due to exposure to ultraviolet radiation. It repairs the damage that has already been caused by the harsh weather and the sun. This is largely due to the fact that once absorbed, shea butter coats the hair shaft so that it is protected from a heat tool or any other damaging material being passed along the hair. This is particularly beneficial for processed or colored hair. It also protects the hair against salt and chlorine when applied before swimming
Here is a simple way to include shea butter in your hair care regimen:
• Take a tablespoon of raw or unrefined shea butter and melt it in the microwave for 30-60 seconds.
• Once the butter cools down slightly, add a few drops of lavender essential oil. This step is not compulsory.
• Make small sections of your hair and apply the liquefied butter to the scalp and entire hair length.
• Leave it on for half an hour and then rinse your hair with a mild shampoo.
12. Prevents Hair Loss
The fatty acids of shea butter condition the scalp and hair. It also provides many essential nutrients that improve both scalp and hair health. These, in turn, will make your hair follicles stronger and reduce hair fall and hair loss. Another important property of shea butter that can prevent hair loss is its anti-inflammatory properties. Scalp conditions can be treated by these compounds, thus reducing hair loss. Your hair will grow thicker and have a natural shine when you use shea butter
13. Soothes Dry And Itchy Scalp
Shea butter is effective in soothing a dry, itchy scalp or dandruff. It possesses anti-inflammatory qualities and rich fat that get absorbed into the skin without leaving a greasy residue behind or clogging the pores . Hence, it is extremely effective in providing relief from a dry scalp, scalp psoriasis, and other scalp conditions.
14. Treats Split Ends And Breakage
Shea butter exerts moisturizing and regenerative effects on the hair and scalp. This strengthens the hair strands and reduces breakage. Also, being rich in vitamins A and E, it soothes dry hair and mends split ends.
15. Effective Natural Conditioner
The presence of vitamins A and E makes shea butter an excellent choice to moisturize your hair from the roots to the tips. It can be used as a natural conditioner. It is highly effective in locking in moisture, without leaving the hair greasy or heavy
16. Keep Rebel Curls In Place
SShea butter is great for softening and revitalizing brittle hair. Due to its non-greasy nature, it helps to control and spread the excess oil in the scalp. Massaging the hair with generous amounts of shea butter can give you soft, silky, and luscious tresses. This benefit of shea butter is applicable for dry as well as fragile, curly hair. Shea butter should be applied twice a week for hair growth. This will improve the hair texture and moisturize the hair. It has wide usage in curly hair treatments due to its emollient qualities
So, this was all about the hair and skin benefits of shea butter. However, this rich butter also possesses some more benefits that make it more versatile. Read on to know more about these.
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