If you're looking to use more plant-based substances in your daily beauty rituals, you have so many options: coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter. But how do you know which ones are right for you? Learning more about shea butter can help you determine if this powerful, naturally sourced product suits your personal care routine.
What Is Shea Butter?
You can find shea butter listed as an ingredient in hundreds of products in the beauty aisle—both natural and not—but what exactly does it do? Shea butter is a versatile ingredient that offers a multitude of benefits for your hair and skin.
Shea butter is a fat extracted from the nut of a shea tree, commonly found across sub-Saharan Africa, according to a thesis from Rutgers University. Because it comes from Mother Earth herself, you can enjoy all the shea butter hair benefits knowing that this ingredient is both effective and safe for the environment. Like other naturally derived fats, shea butter comes in a variety of forms that differ based on how they're processed. Unrefined raw shea butter is the most raw form of the ingredient, as it is extracted in the traditional way and does not contain preservatives, explains the American Shea Butter Institute. In the United States, commercial shea butter is given a grade—A through F—which helps classify the quality of the butter by its safety and how many nutrients it contains.
Unrefined shea butter typically has a beige color and a nutty scent. Refined shea butter, by contrast, is white in color and odorless. Once it comes in contact with your skin, the butter will melt and absorb rapidly.
Shea Butter Hair Benefits
The moisturizing property of shea is one of the most obvious uses of shea butter for your hair. According to an academic report published in Forests, Trees, and Livelihoods, shea butter has a high content of essential fatty acids. In its raw form, it is also filled with nutrients like vitamin E that help moisturize dry hair and skin. This can be especially helpful to combat damage caused by blow-drying or flat irons. As a study in the Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences highlights, shea butter also offers moisturizing benefits for the scalp, which may help you combat dry, flaky skin and dandruff.
Shea Butter Skin Benefits
Shea butter's beauty benefits extend beyond hair. Those same nutrients and moisturizing properties that can help your hair can also benefit your skin. But shea butter is not merely a moisturizing agent. It's also anti-inflammatory, according to the Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences study, meaning it can help soothe reactions to skin irritants. What's more, shea butter may help promote cell regeneration and lead to softer skin, increased collagen production, and reduced signs of aging. It could also prove beneficial before some fun in the sun. The cinnamic acid in shea butter can potentially provide protection against harmful UV rays, according to a review in the Scholars Academic Journal of Pharmacy.
How to Incorporate Shea Butter Into Your Beauty Routine
Raw shea butter can be used both on your hair and skin. To combat itchy, dry scalp, massage a small amount into your scalp or comb it through your hair before you shampoo. You can also use a small amount post-washing to help manage frizziness and flyaway hairs. Just work a small amount onto the ends of your hair whenever they need some TLC.
To moisturize and protect your skin, you can use raw shea butter the same way that you would use any body lotion. In the winter, shea butter can help with dry skin caused by blustery weather, and in the summer, it can help protect and hydrate your sun-exposed skin. This makes shea butter the perfect all-year, single-ingredient moisturizer.
There are countless beauty products that are made with shea butter, including Tom's of Maine Natural Beauty Bar in Lavender & Shea, which is gentle on skin while also helping maintain your skin's natural moisture.
From moisturizing and strengthening to its regenerative effects, there are so many benefits of shea butter, both for your hair and skin. To make the most of its natural nutrients, use raw shea butter or choose beauty products that already contain shea butter.
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Why It's Good
With so many benefits of shea butter for both your hair and skin, it's a no-brainer to use this naturally derived ingredient. Products that are made with shea butter make it simple to incorporate it in your daily personal care routine.