Shea Butter, with its slightly smoky smell and silky feel on the skin, is extracted from the seeds of Vitellaria paradoxa tree native to West Africa. It is a godsend for the people as it has been in use for cosmetic, nutritional, and medicinal purposes for thousands of years. They use it to protect their skin and hair from the drying effects of Sub-Saharan climate. There’s evidence that it had played an important part in the beauty regimen of Cleopatra of Egypt in the first century BC. Keep scrolling on how to use shea butter for gorgeous skin.
1. Shea butter protects the skin from drying out
Applying Shea butter all over the body after a bath or a long swim will help keep the skin hydrated and soft. Alternatively, you can add a tablespoonful of the butter into your warm bathwater before the final rinse. It will quickly melt and cover your body with a thin, protective layer of oil, but the best part is that it does not make the skin oily.
2. Shea butter offers protection against sun exposure
Shea butter may not replace your sunscreen, but it can provide some protection against UV exposure. Shea butter has been estimated to have a sun protection factor of 6 (SPF-6). It may not be sufficient for full sun exposure on a summer day, but may be enough for a quick trip outside when the sky is overcast. With rising concerns about the possibility of chemicals in sunscreens themselves causing skin cancer, it may be a good idea to apply Shea butter as a base coat before applying another sunscreen on the skin. The anti-inflammatory action of the butter is even helpful in reducing burning and soreness after sun exposure.
3. Use it as a lip balm
Make your own long-lasting lip balm with Shea butter. Shea butter will keep the lips moisturized, and the vitamin A and E in the butter nourishes the tender skin and keeps it healthy. To make the simplest of lip balms for everyday use, add 2-3 drops of peppermint oil or any other essential oil of your choice to a tablespoonful of Shea butter and whip it up. Fill into a small container. If you want a more solid lip balm in stick form, add Shea butter to equal amount of beeswax melted over a double boiler. Add natural pigments such as beetroot powder for some color.
4. For baby care
Shea butter is non-toxic and gentle enough to be applied on baby skin. Care should be taken to use organically made, unscented, pure Shea butter. Shea butter can be used for baby massage in place of olive oil. Its oleic acid content is comparable to that of olive oil, but it has higher stearic acid content that make Shea butter is closer in composition to the fat naturally found in the skin. The butter can be applied all over the body or to selective areas such as elbows, knees and cheeks that tend to dry out faster in babies and young children. Adding a spoonful of Shea butter to the bath water is another way to use it on babies. It can form a protective layer on the skin that seals in moisture and acts as a barrier to dust and other environmental contaminants. If the natural nutty smell of Shea butter is not to your liking, mixing in a drop of pure essential oil of your choice to the bath can solve the problem.
5. Shea butter helps smooth out wrinkled skin
Shea butter has higher stearic acid content than other vegetable oils, making it much closer to animal fats in chemical composition. The elasticity and suppleness of the skin is maintained by the structural protein collagen that binds the skin tissue together. Loss of collagen due to aging and sun exposure is the main reason for skin wrinkles. Dehydration of the skin aggravates wrinkles further. The fatty acid profile of the butter allows it to be absorbed into the deeper skin layers to nourish them and support collagen production. The humectants action of the butter helps restore hydration of the skin layers, making them more turgid and visibly smoother. Regular application protects against moisture loss from the skin. Being non-sticky, Shea butter can be comfortably used day and night. It is a non-toxic way to protect the skin from regular sun exposure in day to day living.
6. Shea butter helps reduce or prevent stretch marks formation during pregnancy
Stretch marks formation depends on heredity and other factors such as rapid weight gain and larger tummy from a larger baby or excess amount of amniotic fluid. However, keeping the skin moisturized will reduce stretch marks, if not completely prevent them. Since many chemicals can be absorbed through the skin, it is best to depend on natural, non-toxic moisturizing agents like Shea butter for keeping the skin hydrated all through pregnancy and during the lactating period. The breakdown of the dermal layer due to overstretching is the cause of the slightly depressed feel of the stretch marks. The fatty acids in Shea butter being similar in composition to skin fat, it may help nourish the dermal layer and make it more elastic by promoting collagen production. Regular application of Shea butter on the stomach, thighs and breasts well before they come under severe stress may be the key to avoid stretch marks.
7. Shea butter can reduce skin inflammation
Shea butter contains several anti-inflammatory agents such as cinnamic acid, but the lupeol cinnamate found in the butter is known to reduce skin inflammations. Since the butter can penetrate deep into the skin layers, it may help reduce the inflammation and normalize the skin faster. Shea butter works wonders when applied around the eyes. It gets rid of under eye bags and makes the area smooth, removing dark circles in the process. Spot application on acne may help in some cases, but people with generalized skin inflammation, as in the case of rosacea and dermatitis, find relief from regular use of Shea butter. It is effective against other skin inflammations that result from tanning, scalding, frostbite etc.