What is it?
Shea butter is a type of fat derived from the nuts of the shea tree. It has an off-white or ivory color and is solid at warm temperatures. Shea trees are native to West Africa, and the majority of shea butter still comes from there.
For centuries, shea butter has been used as a cosmetic ingredient. Its high vitamin and fatty acid concentration, combined with its easy-to-apply consistency, make it an excellent product for smoothing, soothing and conditioning your skin.
Curious? Here are some reasons to incorporate it into your routine, as well as instructions on how to do so.
- It is safe for all skin types
Shea butter is classified as a tree nut product. However, unlike most tree nut products, it contains very few of the proteins that can cause allergies.
In fact, there is no medical literature indicating a reaction to topical shea butter.
Shea butter is free of chemical irritants that dry out the skin and do not clog pores. It is suitable for almost all skin types.
- It’s moisturizing
Shea butter is commonly used for its moisturizing properties. These advantages are attributed to shea’s high fatty acid content, which includes linoleic, oleic, stearic, and palmitic acids.
These oils are quickly absorbed into your skin when shea butter is applied topically. They function as a “refatting” agent, restoring lipids and quickly generating moisture.
This restores the barrier between your skin and the outside world, keeping moisture in and lowering your risk of dryness.
- It won’t make your skin oily
Shea butter contains a lot of linoleic and oleic acid. These two acids counteract each other. That means shea butter is easy to absorb and will not leave your skin looking oily after application.
- It’s anti-inflammatory
Shea butter plant esters have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties.
When applied to the skin, shea slows the production of cytokines and other inflammatory cells.
This may help to reduce irritation caused by environmental factors like dry weather as well as inflammatory skin conditions like eczema.
- It helps promote cell regeneration
Shea’s moisturizing and antioxidant properties work together to promote the growth of healthy new skin cells.
Your body is constantly producing new skin cells and removing dead skin cells. Every day, you shed anywhere from 30,000 to 40,000 old skin cells.
Dead skin cells accumulate on the surface. At the bottom of the upper layer of skin, new skin cells form (epidermis).
With the proper moisture balance on the surface of your skin, you will have fewer dead skin cells in the way of epidermal cell regeneration.
- It may help soothe sunburn and other skin burns
According to research, oils may be beneficial for superficial (first-degree) skin burns like sunburn.
The anti-inflammatory properties of shea butter may help to reduce redness and swelling. Its fatty acid components may also soothe the skin during the healing process by retaining moisture.
Although the researchers in this study established that shea butter, aloe vera, and other natural products are widely used, more research is needed to determine their efficacy.