Shea Butter: Uses and Benefits

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Extracted from the nut of the Karite tree, shea butter is a wonderful gift of nature. It’s been used by native Africans for centuries and now it takes its rightful place in the Western civilization. The ivory-colored fat that melts at skin temperature has valuable healing and moisturizing properties for hair and skin.

Why is shea butter such a great health aid?

The main substances found in shea butter are fatty acids: oleic acid, stearic acid, linoleic acid and palmitic acid. This is what makes it a great moisturizer. Shea butter also contains high levels of vitamins A, E and F, keratin (needed to maintain skin elasticity), allantoin, resinous esters and cinnamic acid. Compared to other seed oils, shea butter has one of the largest amounts of nonsaponifiable components (the ones that give it healing properties).

Be aware that the above mentioned contents, which make it such a good healing aid for skin and hair will only be present in unrefined, high-quality shea butter. Overly-processed or aged shea butter can remain a good moisturizer, but loses most of the chemicals that gave it healing properties.

Shea butter for treating acne scarsWhat can shea butter be used for?

Its unique composition, is just the right mix to promote skin elasticity, hydration and tonus. It is currently used for many skin conditions and the most common ones are listed below:

Dry skin and diseases that cause it such as eczema, psoriasis, rashes, dermatitis, thickened or cracked skin.
Skin irritations caused by sun burns, burns, allergies, insect bites and minor wounds such as cuts and grazes.
Sensitive skin reacts badly to fragrances, preservatives and other chemicals usually found in commercial cosmetics. Natural shea butter is a good solution as it doesn’t contain artificial or irritating substances, which makes it suitable for anyone with sensitive skin, including babies and small children.
Joint and muscle pain caused by physical effort or medical conditions such as arthritis and rheumatism. Through its heating and moisturizing effects, shea butter is used as a remedy for these problems.
Dry scalp and hair. Through its vitamins, fats, and other valuable components, shea butter moisturizes and nourishes dry hair and scalp, restoring balance. It strengthens the hair, preventing breakage and thinning. Shea butter also gives a healthier aspect to the hair, making it easier to style.
Shea butter massageUnrefined shea butter can have an SPF of up to 5, although it varies on its sources, processing and other factors.
Anti-wrinkle effect. Shea butter’s healing and restorative properties, make it efficient in toning aged skin. It is also non-comedogenic and highly moisturizing.
Stretch Marks. The composition of fats and oils of shea butter restore and improve the skin’s elasticity. That is why it is oftenly used to prevent and treat stretch marks and other types of scars.
Bed sores are common in critically or terminally ill patients, invalids and elders. Shea butter has the right combination of healing and moisturizing effects that it can be used to heal and prevent bed sores.
Massage therapy. The consistency of shea butter, which melts at body temperature makes it very good to use as a massage moisturizer.