Shea butter, also known as karite butter, is a cream-colored fatty substance made from the nuts of karite nut trees which grow in the savannah regions of West and Central Africa. Though Africans have reaped the benefits of shea butter for generations, European and Western countries are just beginning to recognize the many benefits of shea butter in hair and skin care.
Shea Butter for Hair and Skin
Shea butter has been used to help heal burns, sores, scars, dermatitis, psoriasis, dandruff, and stretch marks. It may also help diminish wrinkles by sealing moisture into the skin, promoting cell renewal, and increasing circulation. Shea butter also contains cinnamic acid, a substance that helps protect the skin from harmful UV rays of the sun.
In the natural hair care world shea butter is often referred to as a moisturizer, which is not true. Shea butter is an oil, and all oils used on damp hair coat it, serving to seal in moisture. Shea butter is nourishing for the skin because contains so many fatty acids, which are needed to retain skin moisture and elasticity. Shea butter protects the skin from both environmental (UV rays) and free-radical damage.
Unrefined 100% shea butter is superior in that it retains all its natural vitamins, especially vitamin A and vitamin E, and has demonstrated antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory characteristics, so its great for healing skin wounds. it’s used to cool burns, soothe sores, fade scars, lighten stretch marks, and help cure skin conditions such as dermatitis, psoriasis, and dandruff. The smell of shea butter may take some getting used to, but the smell fades quickly once its applied to your skin.
Here is a short list of the key benefits of shea butter for hair:
- Shea butter provides moisture to dry and damaged hair from the roots to the tips, leaving it healthy and shiny. Because it’s rich in vitamins A and E, shea butter soothes dryness, repairs breakage, and mends split ends.
- Shea butter absorbs quickly and completely into the scalp without clogging pores, leaving a greasy residue, or causing a buildup of oil or dandruff.
- Shea butter seals and protects hair from weather damage caused by wind, humidity, and extreme dryness.
- Because it can protect against harmful ultraviolet radiation, shea butter protects hair from sun damage.
- If your hair has been damaged by heat or chemical treatments, shea butter can restore hair’s moisture and vitality.
Using Shea Butter
Place a few tablespoons of shea butter in a heat proof glass bowl, then sit bowl in pan of boiling water. Once shea butter melts, let it cool for a bit, then massage it into your freshly washed hair and scalp to seal in moisture.
For direct application to the skin, take a small amount in the palm of your hand. Rub your hands together to warm up the butter until it is smooth and liquid. Then apply to damp skin. If you are concerned about an oily feeling, use only a small amount or apply the Shea Butter before going to bed. Shea Butter absorbs quickly into the skin, but there will be a few minutes right after application where it feels oily.
Shea Butter can also be applied to your hair before washing to protect the hair from harsh shampoos (pre-poo).
The nut from the karite tree may cause an allergic reaction in those with sensitivities to tree nuts. Shea butter is therefore not recommended for people with tree nut or latex allergies.
About the Author (Author Profile)Blogger, writer, relationships/dating expert, fitness trainer and natural hair enthusiast since 1997. Sharing information from grandmomma, books and scientific journals, as well as my personal discoveries and experiences with natural hair as we journey from relaxers, flat irons and weaves together.
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