Shea butter is extracted from the African Shea nut tree and it has been used by native Africans for skin care, healing and food. The tree is one of nature’s wonders and is believed to be sacred because of the abundance of goodness it can provide for the skin, hair, beauty and health. A couple of months ago, a friend introduced me to this skin-loving butter and after seeing the magnificent improvements to my skin, nails and hair, I decided to share my experience with you and advice you on the best way to use it.
What makes Shea Butter such a great skin treat is its richness in precious ingredients, such as essential fatty acids, vitamin E and D, and pro-vitamin A. Once applied to your skin it creates a soft moisturising shield which protects the skin from UV sunlight, harsh climate, dehydration and pollution damages. Moreover, it improves the skin’s elasticity and stimulates the production of collagen, which is the youthful scaffolding in our skin, and thus making Shea Butter a great anti-aging weapon. As a result the skin looks and feels more alive, nourished and radiant. The butter is usually in a solid form and you need to take small bits of it, depending on how much hydration you need. I started using it every evening as a night cream after cleaning my face. Since I have combination skin, I apply smaller amounts on the oily parts of my face and larger on the drier areas. The butter is easily absorbed and has no distinct smell. You can feel its healing power immediately after application – the skin feels soft and nourished and the best part – it lasts till the morning, sometimes you don’t need a day cream.Apparently, this butter was the secret of the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti’s legendary beauty and she never missed a night of applying it. I still can’t say whether my beauty resembles hers, but I love the way my skin feels. I now even use it as a makeup base which makes the application of foundation very easy. You just need to find the right amount your skin needs as the butter gives a lot of moisture.
Shea butter is also brilliant for winter and after-sun care. It provides the extra moisture, vitamins and protection the skin needs during the cold season and summertime. In addition, since the butter is so natural and gentle to the skin, it is considered perfect for sensitive skin, prone to allergies, such as eczema and psoriasis, along with any skin breakdowns, such as insect bites, minor cuts and rashes. This miraculous power also makes the butter suitable for the delicate baby skin which guarantees health-conscious mums a totally natural and chemical-free skin care for their little ones.
Another great experience with the butter was using it to strengthen my nails. I had really fragile nails after wearing gel nail polish for about two months. Once I removed it my nails were very thin and I could not achieve a nice natural manicure for weeks. I started applying the butter every night on my hands and after less than a week I noticed improvements. My nails are stronger than ever and even one application is often enough to give them that extra boost. No need for expensive base coats and professional hand creams – the butter holds the key.
Finally, I tried its moisturisng qualities to revitalise my hair. I cut 1 tbs and place it into a glass which I then put into a bowl of boiling water to melt it. You then have an oily texture which you can apply to your ends and leave overnight. If you don’t have the time you can just wrap your hair in a warm towel for 20-30 minutes and then wash it. Another trick for quick conditioning when on the go is to place a nut size of Shea Butter between your palms until it melts and just spread it evenly across your ends. It removes dryness and makes split ends behave good again.
Caution – Where to find it?Unfortunately, not all Shea butters are made the same when it comes to quality and efficiency. They come in different types depending on how they have been extracted from the nuts: refined or unrefined. Refined Shea butter has been extracted with a chemical process which kills almost all of its moisturising, anti-aging and healing properties. This is the mainstream type, found in the majority of cosmetics, labelled with Shea Butter content to attract buyers.
Thus, to get the full benefits of this skin superfood, we need to look for raw or unrefined virgin organic Shea Butter which you can recognise by its mild nutty-smoky scent and a golden to light ivory colour. If you want to eliminate the odour you can choose the raw or deodorised types.
The one I have is in its pure natural form and I don’t find the nutty scent unpleasant. The places to buy it are usually online via websites like Akamuti or Akoma. You can buy different sizes and always make sure it is certified organic, normally through the Soil Association or another stringent authority.
Feel free to share your thoughts if you have also used it or if you need further advice on how to apply it. Switching from mainstream chemical-rich cosmetics and empty celebrity promises is not always easy but once you discover the miraculous power of nature, you will never be able to go back. Mother Nature knows best :).
With health & balance,