Tag Archives: Shea

The Best Plant Extracts For Skin

Usually, when we think of the plights of ancient civilization, acne does not top our list. However, that does not mean skincare was not a problem for our forebears. After all, if there was a sun, was there not sun damage and, if there were pregnancies, were there not stretch marks? While we can pretty much assume our forefathers and mothers all battled with skin issues, there is a noticeable absence of the mention of benzoyl peroxide and hyaluronic acid in the history books. So what did our ancestors use to ensure skin health before the advent of “science-based skincare?” Plant extracts. And if they worked back then, shouldn’t they work now?

Let’s take a moment to investigate the best plant-based extracts for your skin that are still available.

Aloe vera

Aloe Vera
This extract has been around since time immemorial. Best known as a remedy for irritation and minor burns, this desert plant is known for its ability to fight bacteria, protect skin cells from damage, soften skin, and rebuild new tissue. Aloe is an ideal ingredient for mature skin and improves collagen levels when ingested or applied topically.

Tea Tree Oil
Ideal for moisturizing and cleansing, tea tree oils reduces sebum production in the sebaceous glands and reduces the amount of bacteria that cause blemishes to form. Its antiseptic properties make it an effective healer, it is known for its ability to safely remove dead cells from the skin and decrease the appearance of wrinkles.

Shea butter evens skin tone and protects and moisturizes the skin and scalp without clogging pores. Extracted from the nut of the West African karate tree, shea butter is naturally rich in vitamins A and E and helps restore elasticity to the skin and soothe irritation.

Shea butter

Olive Oil
Hailed as a skin care remedy by the ancient Egyptians, olive oil is still regarded as one of the most effective natural oils for skin care. It has been associated with everything from aiding in digestion to acne prevention and anti-aging. The words “Extra virgin” or “cold pressed” on the label should indicate that the olive oil contained within is the purest of all extract and have more nutritional components to improve skin appearance, but beware falsely labelled products!

One of the finest extracts found in nature, the oil from the avocado is an extract long found in face masks, bath oils, and cleansing cream. Avocados are rich in vitamin A, which is effective at removing dead skin cells and contain amino acids which protect skin against environmental damage.

Cocoa Butter
Cocoa butter is known for the ability to reduce scars and is often recommended by surgeons to patients to reduce evidence of surgery incisions. It is credited with boosting collagen in the skin and reducing stretch marks and the appearance of wrinkles and frown lines. Cocoa butter is an active ingredient in most moisturizers and is useful in combatting rough skin where dryness is common.
Cocoa butter

Coconut Oil
Great for both hair and skin care, coconut oil is an effective moisturizer for dry skin and scalp. It can also delay the appearance of wrinkles and has been proven to be effective in the treatments of psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis. The antioxidant properties of the coconut prevent premature aging and degenerative disease and it is available in a variety of skin care products, such as lotions, soaps, and creams.

Do you know of any plant extracts we haven’t mentioned that do wonders for your skin? Let us know your favorites. We’re all ears!

Shea nuts and shea butter in a glass bowl


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!