Shea nuts and shea butter in a glass bowl

INGREDIENT SPOTLIGHT: Shea Butter

This week’s Ingredient Spotlight column features Shea Butter – yes, that elegant, natural, smooth and velvety substance that is known to be extremely beneficial for your skin.

Shea Butter, also known as the African Karite butter, is a fat that is extracted from the nuts of the Shea tree. The tree is indigenous to countries like Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, Faso and Benin and it is mostly found in the western parts of sub Sahara Africa. The main use of Shea Butter outside of the African continent is in the cosmetics and skin care industry. Shea butter seems to be quite similar to the normal butter that you eat. It has a yellow or a creamish color and is a solid creamy substance. The color of the butter depends on the way it is processed. Raw or unprocessed Shea butter has a yellowish color while processed butter has a creamish color. The biggest difference between the two is that processed Shea butter removes all contaminants as well as the weird smell.

Shea Butter is known to be extremely rich in Vitamins A and E. Both vitamins are considered to be highly beneficial for the skin as they act as antioxidants that undo the radical damage caused on the skin’s surface. According to studies, topical application of Shea Butter also helps people to combat the signs of aging and removes age spots and fine lines. Furthermore, Shea butter can be used to protect the body from the sunlight and also be used to hydrate the skin by preventing water loss.

Shea butter boasts of being extremely therapeutic as it can help to restore damaged or cracked skin. It also boasts of an SPF of 5 which makes it an excellent option to use along with sun protection creams and lotions. Other benefits of Shea butter include soothing dermatitis and eczema and minimizing stretch marks.

Now that the benefits of Shea Butter are much clearer, do you want to know how exactly you can use Shea Butter to benefit your skin? Here are some of the most common applications of Shea Butter.

Lip Balm – Shea Butter can help you to keep your lips protected from the weather and hydrated. It prevents your lips from drying up or cracking. You can also use it on your dry elbows.

Hair Nourishment – Shea Butter is popularly used for hair nourishment purposes. All you need to do is mix some Shea butter in your hair conditioner to give your hair a silky and shiny look. Don’t forget to apply some Shea butter on the roots of your hair to ensure that it has more volume and looks thicker.

Massage Balm – Shea Butter is popularly used as a massage balm. Many spas around the world add essential oils to Shea butter to induce aromatherapy benefits and take care of a variety of skin care solutions.

Sun protection – Shea Butter has a natural Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 5. This makes it an ideal supplement to your sun protection creams and moisturizers and allows you to protect your skin from the sun as well as ensure that it remains nourished and hydrated.

Moisturizing and hydrating your skin – Rubbing some Shea Butter on your cheeks, hands and elbows can help you make them look hydrated and bring back that long lost glow. The best way to do this is to add a bit of Shea butter to your hot baths. This should help you to hydrate and nourish your entire body.

 Do you use Shea Butter as part of your skin care routine? Tell us more in the comments below!

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