Shea butter is one of the most commonly used ingredients in cosmetics, particularly in moisturisers, skin emulsions, and anti-ageing beauty products. Wondering what’s in it? This article will unravel the beauty benefits of a popular beauty ingredient, also known as a skin superfood.
What is Shea Butter?
Extracted from the nut of the African shea tree, it is actually a fat that has a yellow colour when raw and turns to ivory or white once processed. Aside from being used as a beauty essential, shea butter is also an ingredient used in foods prepared in African countries.
But what’s really interesting about shea butter is the properties that made it one of the highly preferred substances used in a range of cosmetics. Read on to further understand how shea butter works.
What’s in It?
Considered as a skin superfood, shea butter has been preferred from one generation to another due to its components that are essential for proper and effective skin care, some of which are featured below:
The building blocks of healthy cell membranes
It contains the five main fatty acids, namely: palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic, and arachidic acids.
Eliminates the causes and effects of ageing skin, certain diseases, as well as skin damage
Containing higher levels of phenolic compounds, shea butter comes with antioxidant properties. Out of the 10 phenolic compounds it contain, 8 are catechins.
Vitamin E (Tocopherol)
Aids in the reduction of scars, helps moisturise and soften skin
Shea butter has different versions of Vitamin E, aka the beauty vitamin. It acts as a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce the occurrence of wrinkles and fine lines by fighting off free radicals and providing the moisturising and healing properties your skin needs.
Did You Know?
Unrefined shea butter is free of chemicals, gentle enough for it to be used for a baby’s delicate skin, particularly in the treatment of eczema and diaper rash.
Facilitates healthy production of skin cells
A nutrient naturally present in shea butter, it aids in maintaining a firm and healthy skin even in the deep layers–particularly with the fibroblasts that it stimulates. It also contains retinal, retinol and retinoic acids, three active forms of vitamin A that are essential for the production and growth of skin cells.
NOTE: With vitamin F, another nutrient in shea butter, vitamin A can help preempt premature ageing and help in the treatment of various skin anomalies such as eczema and dermatitis.
8 Beauty Benefits of Shea Butter
Address your problems with redness and swelling by applying shea butter on the affected area of your skin. Containing derivatives of cinnamic acid, it alleviates skin conditions that occur as a result of increased inflammatory compounds common among people with dermatitis and rosacea, as well as those experiencing sunburns, irritations, and rashes. With its fatty acid and vitamin K concentrates, it is also especially helpful in wound healing or in cases when the skin barrier has been compromised.
FACT: When used for the hair, shea butter’s anti-inflammatory properties help in the prevention of hair loss. It packs compounds for scalp conditioning and even allows growth of thicker and shinier hair. The fatty acids found in shea butter also promote hair health and strengthen hair follicles.
Shea butter has a semisolid characteristic which means it is capable of penetrating into your skin and creating a barrier that can seal in skin moisture. It is ideal to use for the face and body and unlike other moisturisers, it can keep the skin hydrated for long even with a single application.
FACT: Skin dryness can cause peeling, flaky skin, and itchiness. As shea butter provides moisturising effects, essential skin oils are supplied to the skin to facilitate relief.
3. Skin Softener
With its fat content, shea butter provides the nourishment needed to keep the hands and feet soft, smooth, and supple. While it allows easier skin penetration to help relieve dry skin, it is able to harness amazing benefits without clogging the pores. It is an effective treatment for cracked heels, dry cuticles, and rough skin patches which you may experience especially in the coming months when colder temperature is expected.
Shop from Our Shelves: Susanne Kaufmann Body Butter
Soothe skin dryness and chapping with this shea butter enriched beauty product that is meant to pamper and nourish the skin. It is combined with olive oil and honey in an absorbent and non-greasy formula.
Environmental toxins cause oxidative stress on your skin and with the oleic, linoleic, and stearic acids found in shea butter, you’ll be able to combat it and facilitate a healthy turnover of new cells that contribute to skin firmness. It also earned the reputation as one of the best anti-ageing agents as it stimulates collagen production in the skin, while the vitamins A and E found in it works in nourishing the skin and keeping it supple and radiant.
Shop from Our Shelves: Kahina Giving Beauty FEZ Hand and Body Balm
Improve the elasticity and texture of your skin. This natural body balm contains high concentrations of argan oil and calendula. It also uses shea butter as its base to help soothe redness and soften dry skin.
5. Skin Healing
One property that is distinctive in shea butter is its healing properties. Thanks to the fatty acids and plant sterols found in shea butter, its healing power is enhanced which allows the skin to recover from rashes, peeling, scars, bites, stings, and even acne.
Shop from Our Shelves: Lilfox Forest Floor Body Butter
Formulated with organic mango and shea butter combined with tropical coconut oils and Brazilian Maracuja. It also has high amounts of polyphenols and essential fatty acids that aid in the neutralization of free radical damage while supporting collagen production.
6. UV Protection
Shea butter offers a level of protection that makes it effective for natural sun protection, particularly with its cinnamic acid content. This specific component keeps the skin free from damage caused by free radicals and environmental aggressors.
TIP: Providing an SPF of up to 10, it should be used alongside other beauty products with sunscreen to make it effective in soothing the skin, preventing and even reversing oxidative damage due to exposure to UV rays.
7. Skin Elasticity
The simple lipids and vitamin F found in shea butter work in preserving the skin’s natural elasticity, therefore making it possible for the appearance of wrinkles and blemishes to be reduced.
FACT: Shea butter is a common ingredient in medications intended for the treatment of stretch marks–a skin condition that occurs when the skin is stretched beyond its natural elasticity.
8. Lip Protection
A cold and dry environment contributes to dry lips–a scenario that is common during spring and winter. Chapped lips could be frustrating and you can find an effective treatment in shea butter. It comes with moisturising properties and allows easy absorption to provide added moisture and nutrients for the lips especially under dry and cold weather conditions.
Shop from Our Shelves: Oskia Cupid’s Bow Lip Balm
Give your lips the care it needs with this super lightweight balm that provides superb nourishment. Contains Avocado Oil and natural Shea Butter, it also packs Vitamins A and E to soothe, protect, and add shimmer to your lips.
Shea butter is a versatile ingredient that helps in providing added care and protection for the hair and skin. More than that, it has also been used in the treatment of a range of health issues including soothing of muscle aches, joint pains, nasal congestion, among others.
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