Shea butter is a fat harvested from the nuts of the African shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa). In its raw form, Shea has a yellow color, with processed and further refined versions having a yellow or white appearance. In English, the word “Shea” comes from s’í, the tree’s name in Bambara, a native language of Mali. It’s also commonly referred to as Karité from the Wolof language of Senegal, and Ori across parts of West Africa.
The Uses of Shea Butter
Shea oil is rich in natural fats and natural fatty acids. Lately, this butter has gained enormous popularity in the west due to its extensive use in beauty and cosmetic products. It’s added to both skin and hair products like lotions, makeup, shampoos, and conditioners. Occasionally, shea butter is combined with other oils as a replacement for cocoa butter, although the flavor is noticeably changed.
As an edible product, it’s a popular moisture additive for lip glosses and lipsticks.
It is also used as an ingredient in soaps and massage oils. The butter is typically added in small amounts because it has plenty of unsaponifiables, which fail to form soaps when combined with specific additives. Some small-batch soap makers use shea butter in amounts up to 25%. In the European Union, there is a regulated maximum percentage of 28% Shea. With its high content of fatty acids, it is an outstanding emollient for dry skin. No data shows it is a cure, but it relieves the discomfort associated with tightness and itching.
Shea butter has naturally occurring semisolid characteristics that help your skin slowly absorb the oils. This natural richness creates a smooth barrier that can help lock in moisture to the skin. This effect can even last several hours over other moisturizing ingredients that can often wear off.
Shea Butter Benefits
The butter contains Vitamin A that is important for improving many skin conditions including blemishes wrinkles eczema and dermatitis. Shea’s moisturizing properties are due to several natural moisturizers present in the cream. These are the same ones that are produced by sebaceous glands in your skin.
Shea butter is a natural source of Vitamin E. This essential skin ingredient has been attributed with anti-aging and anti-free radical activities while also increasing microcirculation in the skin. The increase in blood supply also should improve the overturning of skin cells and enhance a youthful appearance.
The fatty acids contained in Shea are oleic acid, linoleic, and stearic acid, all found in high levels. These acids are an active ingredient in opposing oxidative stress in cells, which is a result of environmental toxins on your complexion.
Shea Butter for Skin Care
A newly discovered compound in Shea is cinnamic acid. This acid is a closely related cousin of the cinnamon spice found in your kitchen cabinets. High-quality Shea butter will have the highest concentration of this acid. Anyone who’s experimented with a tiny amount of Cinamon in a DIY facemask can attest to the tingling and improved blood flow that you experience.
What’s your favorite use of Shea butter? Are you a fan of soaps, lotions, or in your daily skincare regime?