Shea butter is hardly new tous.We love it for its lovely scent and silky feel on the skin. What you probably don’t know is it’s been used for thousands of years not only for cosmetics but also for nutritional and medicinal reasons.

Shea butter is extracted from the seeds of Vitellaria paradoxa tree, which are found in West Africa. It’s been originally used by the dwellers in the region to moisturize their skin and hair, which easily dry up due to the Sub-Saharan climate. In fact, Cleopatra had been using shea butter as part of her beauty regimen.

Extracting Shea butter involves a rigorous manual process – from collection, cleaning, segregation, drying, to pounding until it becomes a paste. Water is put into the seed paste, and the butter, the curd that rises to the top,is set aside using hands. The curd is purified by melting it into butter. Next steps are filtering and cooling. This careful process results to brownish speck contaminants.

These bits indicate how pure and natural the product is, even if the refined ones look more enticing. Others choose bleached butter for cosmetic purposes, and some find the scent overpowering, so they de-scent it. However, you can expect to get more benefits from purer and more natural Shea butter.

The major components of Shea butter are oleic acid and stearic acid – both are fatty acids. The latter can be as much as30to50%, which makes it very similar to animal fat. Like animal fat, the body easily absorbs it to function as a re-fatting agent. Other fatty acids that can be found in Shea butter are linoleic and linolenic acids, which also provide other nutritional benefits.

For Skin and Body Care:

1.It moisturizes the skin.

At room temperature, Shea butter remains solid, but when applied on the skin, it melts and effectively moisturizes the skin, leaving it silky but non-greasy. Itis said that when cold and dry Harmattan winds from the Sahara desert plagued West Africa, the locals lathered their bodies with Shea butter so their skin won’t dry out. Shea butter is best used after a bath or a swim to protect the skin from dehydration. You can also put a tablespoon into your warm bath and rinse carefully. It will hydrate your skin with just the right amount of oil for a smooth and silky finish.

2.It moisturizes the lips.

Its moisturizing properties make it a perfect lip balm as it will keep your lips moisturized and tender as it contains vitamins A andE. What makes it a good alternative is that it remains solid at room temperature, and you don’t need to melt beeswax and you can do away without petroleum products as base.It’s easy to make lip balm Shea butter for daily use. Mix a tablespoon of Shea butter with 2 to 3 drops of essential oil that is safe to ingest and carefully stir. Place it into a small container. If you want it to be more solid, add equal amount of Shea butter and beeswax then melt over a double boiler. To add color, you can add natural pigments like beetroot powder.

3.It protects the skin against sun exposure.

Shea butter has about 6 sun protection factor or SPF -6.Itmay not be enough to completely get rid of your sun screen, but if you’re going out for a quick run to the groceries under an overcast sky, it’s a great option.

Lately, issues regarding the chemicals in products such as sunblock lotions are raised. Since Shea butter is all-natural, you can apply it as base before you put on your sun screen. Also, since it has anti-inflammatory properties, it can help easeout sunburn and peeling.

4.It is gentle enough to be used for baby care.

Pure, organic, and unscented Shea butter is great for baby care use. It is mild and will not cause irritation. Olive oil is commonly used for baby massage because of its oleic acid content, which is also found in Shea butter in equal amount. What makes Shea butter the better choice is its higher stearic acid content, which can be equaled to the fat that are naturally found in our skin. Shea butter can be massaged all over the body,or only to areas that usually experience drying up such as knees, elbows, and cheeks. It can also be added to a warm bath, as explained earlier. If you find the nutty scent overpowering, you can add your preferred essential oil.

5.It tightens skin and smoothens wrinkles.

Collagen maintains elasticity and suppleness of the skin. When weage,we lose collagen. Another cause of collagen loss is sun exposure. As a result, the skin starts to wrinkle. When skin doesn’t get enough moisture, the appearance of wrinkles worsens.

Absorption of Shea butter is skin-deep, which helps nourish and produce collagen. Furthermore, its ability to retain moisture helps prevent dehydration of the skin, making it shinier and smoother. Unlike regular lotion, it is not sticky, which makes it perfect for day and night use. When used regularly and constantly, it prevents moisture loss from the skin.

6.It fadesor prevents formation of stretch marks.

Pregnancy isn’t the only factor causing stretch marks. Major weight gain or loss can also cause them. It’s also said that heredity plays a huge part whether one will have hem or not. Nonetheless, it can be prevented if the skin is kept moisturized. The appearance of the stretch marks is due to overstretching of the skin. Shea butter helps the dermal layer become more elastic through collagen production. If you use Shea butter regularly on your stomach, thighs, and breasts, stretch marks may still be avoided. If your skin is stubborn and stretch marks still arise, apply it to help fade them.

7.It can reduce skin inflammation.

Shea butter has several anti-inflammatory components. However, there are specific agents that especially reduce skin inflammations such as lupeol cinnamate, which is found in Shea butter as well. As it penetrates deep into the skin easily, Shea butter has the ability to neutralize the affected area faster.

Shea butter makes one good beauty products as it helps fade blemishes and lighten scars. It helps lighten dark circles in your areas, even making them smooth and even out. It can also tame acne spots. It’s used for both generalized skin inflammation like dermatitis as well as inflammation caused by tanning, frostbite, or scalding.

For Healthy and Beautiful Hair:

8.It can be used as hair conditioner.

For a smoother and more manageable hair, you can lather the strands of your hair with Shea butter or massage it on your scalp. When the weather is too hot and windy, it is normal that the hair becomes brittle and harsh. Shea butter is the answer to that problem, which is actually not a new millennium problem.

For proper application, simply take a teaspoon and rub it in your palms until it melts then spread it on your hair with it using both hands to make sure that all areas are covered. You can even make use of a hair brush for equal application.

9.It can be used tomassage the scalp. Whether your scalp is dry or oily, Shea butter is your best bet. Flaking is caused by dry scalp, which can be treated using Shea butter, as it easily moisturizes the scalp without leaving it greasy. On the other hand, it can also help lessen the production of excessive oil, if you find that your scalp is unreasonably oily. Another good thing about Shea butter is that you can rinse it off easily.

If you are right-handed, place a small amount of Shea butter on your left palm. If you are left-handed, do the opposite. Once the butter is melted, dip the fingers of the other hand then apply on scalp while massaging it. You may observe how quick the oil get s absorbed by the scalp. For healthier hair, you can do this twice or thrice a week.

10.It can protect your hair fromUV rays and other environmental pollutants. If you don’t feel comfortable using Shea butter as hair moisturizer or massage oil ona regular basis, you can just use it whenever you are spending so much time outside the house. Shea butter will protect your hair from UV rays and other chemical pollutants found in air. Simply rub it between your palms and lather it on your hair.

Because it is pure and natural, it is generally hypoallergenic, but just like any other product that you use on your skin, test it on a small area of your skin before making it a favorite product for multi purposes. Other Amazing Benefits of Shea Butter:

11.It can beusedas pain relief. Triterpenes found in the butter has the ability to increase healing to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. This makes it a must-have product for people who love to workout. You can apply it before and after a training session at the gym to reduce muscle pain. It can be used by people who are experiencing arthritic and rheumatic pain. Simply massage it into the joints and muscles that are inflamed. For best results, choose unrefined and organic Shea butter. Nevertheless, to make its healing powers more potent, you can add a few drops of essentials oils like lavender, Helichrysum, or Roman chamomile.

12.It can provide relief from cold and sinusitis.

Shea butter has been used by Nigerians to cure nasal congestion. It is assumed,but not without evidence, that it can help relieve sinus congestion as well.

An experiment was made comparing Shea butter, petroleum jelly, and the commercialized nasal drop Or tivin in terms of their effectiveness in clearing up nasal congestion. Although the participants had to wait for almost a minute until relief is felt using the Shea butter, its effect is longer-lasting with 5 to 8 hours. Otrivin cleared up the nasal passage immediately, but the effect lasted for only upto 4 hours, maximum. Petroleum jelly did not make any difference at all.

13.It treats insect bites. Native Africans had also been using Shea butter to relieve insect bites. It reduces pain from mosquito bites and honey bee stings. It’s also reported that it can be used when you are stung by Jellyfish. When you feelan urge to scratch the affected area, simply apply Shea butter to lessen the itching and stinging. This iswhy it’s also a must-have when going camping or swimming. Itis not only proven tobeas effective, if not more effective,than ordinary insect repellents; it’s also a much safer choice without the harmful chemicals.

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