Africans have used Shea Butter as a luxurious butter for centuries. The outer shells of the nuts are removed, after which the nuts are crushed, boiled and roasted into butter. The butter is then kneaded by hand in a bowl of water to separate light or ivory-coloured fat which cools and hardens to form the actual shea butter.
Shea Butter is highly rich in vitamins, fatty acids, and antioxidants. It contains Oleic Acid, Cinnamic Acid, Linoleic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Allantoin, Vitamins E, A and F among others. Its constituents combined with its buttery easy-to-spread consistency makes it perfect for use on the skin and hair.
Here are 7 unrivalled advantages of African Shea Butter.
It is an excellent moisturizer
Shea Butter is majorly used for its moisturizing properties. Its high-fat content is what makes it such an excellent moisturizer, especially for dry skin. It blends easily into the skin and creates a barrier between it and the environment which serves to lock in moisture and maintain its hydrated state for a long period.
This especially beneficial for tough areas of the body that easily become dry, cracked, or scaly such as the knuckles, elbows, knees and feet. It provides the moisture they need while softening them and keeping them supple. Shea Butter is also an excellent lip moisturizer.
It fades and improves the appearance of stretch marks
Stretch marks are formed when the skin stretches beyond its elastic limit. This could occur during rapid weight/loss, puberty or pregnancy. Shea butter contains Vitamins A and E, as well as plant sterols. These help to prevent the destruction of collagen fibres in the skin while boosting the production of more collagen. It also has vitamin F which is important in maintaining the skin’s elasticity. The combination of these actions helps fade stretch marks and makes the skin plumper.
It also lightens dark or green-coloured stretch marks so they match the appearance of the skin around them which reduces their visibility.
It has anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory properties
Shea butter has Oleic acid (omega 9), Linoleic Acid( omega 6), and cinnamic acid which all have anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, Shea butter is highly beneficial in providing relief from skin inflammations such as dermatitis, eczema and rosacea.
A recently published study proved that shea butter could be just as effective in treating eczema as other medicated balms. Shea butter also has anti-ageing properties.
Asides the youthful glow it gives the skin by boosting collagen production, the vitamins A and E and polyphenols present in this butter act as antioxidants in fighting free radicals that damage the skin. This reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles thus improving the youthfulness of the skin.
It soothes the skin from various irritations
Shea Butter has skin-soothing properties. The fatty acids and cinnamic acid found in it soothe the skin by locking in moisture while the skin is healing. It has also been found to be effective in soothing sunburns, windburns and abrasions.
The absence of harsh chemicals in shea butter makes it perfect for treating skin irritations in sensitive skin including baby skin. It can be used to soothe baby eczema or diaper rash. Shaving hair with razors could also irritate the skin. Razor bumps could develop as a result of such irritation. Application of Shea butter on the irritated skin helps to soothe and heal the skin.
It repairs damaged hair and boosts hair growth
Bad weather conditions, harsh chemicals, and the sun are some of the things that are constantly waging war against our hair. If left alone, the hair becomes brittle, starts to break and falls off. Shea butter helps to repair damaged hair.
It is highly recommended in the Liquid-Oil-Cream hair moisturizing method where it acts as the cream that seals in the moisture in the hair. It provides the hair with essential nutrients that strengthens it against breakage. Also, it boosts the growth of new hair from follicles making the hair thicker, longer and shiny.
Shea butter also works to prevent damage from heat styling forming a barrier of protection between the hair and the heat tool.
It soothes joint pain and muscle ache
Shea butter has been used traditionally in West Africa to massage parts of the body that seem to ache or are in pain. Overextended muscles are easily inflamed, which leads to muscular pain.
The anti-inflammatory properties of shea butter work on the muscle to reduce any swelling that may be present as well as the pain. Joint pain also result from inflammation and Shea butter helps in the same way by soothing the inflammation.
It helps with wound healing
Due to the presence of wound healing nutrients such as Allantoin, shea butter helps facilitate the quick healing of wounds, cuts, and abrasions. The numerous fatty acids shield the wound from external irritants that could stall the healing process.