Shea butter is a fat that is extracted from the nut of the Shea tree. The tree is indigenous to the western parts of sub Saharan Africa, in countries like Senegal, Benin, Nigeria, Burkino Faso and Mali. The extracted butter has many uses from protecting the skin through to use as a cooking oil/fat. Outside of Africa, it is mainly used in the cosmetics industry. It can be purchased in it's raw state which means it can be used to make your own skin care products or simply used as is.
Properties of Shea Butter
Shea butter is like the butter in might find in your fridge – it is a yellow or cream color and is solid at room temperature. Depending on how processed the butter is the color will change. The yellow color is usually the most raw or unrefined version.
More processing generally makes the butter white in color and will take away the distinctive smell and remove any contaminants.
This makes it easier to be used as an ingredient in creams, lotions ans salves without overpowering the concoction or harming the user of the products.
Shea butter is rich in vitamin A and E. As you might know, these vitamins are particularly good for the skin. They are antioxidants that will neutralize free radical damage on the surface of the skin. This is most commonly caused by UV Radiation from the sun or polluted environments.
It is believed that topical application of these vitamins can help to reduce the sings of fine lines and age spots.
When applied to the skin, Shea butter can protect it from environmental conditions (such as sunlight) and it is often found in sunscreens. It also helps to hydrate the skin by stopping water loss to the environment.
Rubbing the butter into your skin will soften it and make it feel silky smooth.
Uses Of Shea Butter
- Shea butter can be used as a lip balm to keep lips hydrated and protected from hot or cold weather conditions. In fact, you can use it on any part of the skin that is dry or cracking. Many people rub it on elbows that are naturally dry.
- Mix the butter with your favorite hair conditioner. This will give your hair a more silky look and feel.
- Use it as a massage balm for yourself or someone special. Add an essential oil to the butter so that aromatherapy benefits can be derived.
- Put it on your nails to make them feel stronger.
- Shea butter is a natural protection from the sun and has a sun protection factor of 5. So it can be used as a sunscreen or compliment other products you use to protect your skin from the sun.
- Apply the butter to the roots of fine hair to make it look thicker and have more volume.
- Rub the butter into your cheeks. This will naturally hydrate them making them glow and be more defined.
- Add a knob of Shea butter to a hot bath. This will help to hydrate and moisturize the whole body.
Mixing Shea Butter With Other Products
The best way to combine Shea butter with other products like essential oils is to warm the butter in a water bath. Simply add the tub of butter to a pan of warm water. The butter will melt and become more pliable. You don't want to over heat the butter.
When it is soft, you can mix in essential oils or fragrances with a plastic spoon. Mix in until the oils have combined. The same goes if you are adding the butter to a hair conditioner, sunscreen or other moisturizing cream.
The combined substances will eventually set and can then be used. Adding other ingredients to raw Shea butter will change the texture of the butter and make it easier to use.