Shea butter is the ultimate beauty secret
Wonder ingredient shea butter was once one of the world’s best kept secrets. But now it has been adopted by many beauty brands thanks to its ultra-moisturising and natural healing properties. The slightly yellowish or ivory coloured nutty, natural fat is extracted from the seed of the shea tree which is native to West Africa. It is often referred to by its French name, karite, “tree of life”.
The nut, which looks like a conker, is mashed up and kneaded by hand over a course of two weeks in the village. In its pure unrefined state, shea butter is also edible and has been used for centuries in Africa as cooking oil, as a waterproofing wax, for hairdressing, for candle-making, as an anti-inflammatory for sprains and arthritis and to soothe dry skin.
Liha Okunniwa, one-half of the U.K. based duo behind organic skin-care line, also named LIHA, tells Cover Media: “More and more people are realising that whatever you put on your skin absorbs 60 per cent of it. And people that make their own beauty products are looking for natural things to use either as a base and to make products.
“It’s 100 per cent natural and pure, and naturally high in vitamins A and E and the best thing you can put on your skin. It also empowers women in Ghana and Nigeria and goes towards helping women out of poverty.”
This is why in West Africa shea butter is also known as “woman’s gold”.
Shea butter has gained popularity because of its supremely moisturizing properties, and its naturally high Vitamins A and E content and has exceptional healing properties for people with skin conditions such as eczema. Unrefined shea butter can be used without any need for further processing.
Liha continues: “Shea butter is great for dry skin, you can use it as a conditioning mask for hair, if you’re whipping with natural oils it can also used as a moisturiser for hair. It tends to work better if your hair is super dry or curly. For fine hair, just use on the ends as a pre-wash treatment.”
The beauty brand’s Ose Gidi black soap uses shea butter and coconut and hemp seed oil, for superior moisturising. And their Liha Shea Butter is a pure whipped butter than can be used all over the body which will replenish and hydrate extra dry skin types.
There are plenty of products available blending the healing butter with other natural ingredients such as essential oils and other butters to help target a range of beauty issues, such as dry skin and hair, split ends and sensitive skin. Here are a few of the best around:
Whether you go for the 100 per cent pure shea butter or a blend, there’s a body butter out there for you.
Pure Thoughts Lime & Jojoba Whipped Shea Butter Body Butter is a completely natural body butter that melts into the skin, eliminating dryness, boosting moisture, and the addition of lime essential oil makes it perfects for reviving mind and body.
Yes to Carrots mixes its Super Rich Body Butter with Beta Carotene, Sweet Almond Oil and Avocado Oil, for a super moisturising experience. While BetterYou Magnesium Body Butter is a mix of magnesium oil, shea butter and cocoa butter which is suitable for sensitive skin. There’s also a lotion in the range if you prefer something lighter.
For thirsty hair try Palmer’s Shea Formula range features sustainably sourced shea butter for a nourishing sulfate free shampoo and conditioner that will moisturise dry and curly hair. A conditioning curl cream will also take care of dryness on a daily basis, for naturally curly or transitioning hair.
Cleansing and moisturising
Arbonne’s Shea Butter Hand and Body Duo is a luxurious bathroom set that contains all the emollient benefits of shea butter in a gentle cleansing wash and ultra-moisturising hand and body lotion that will leave skin supple.
Madara Organic Skincare has added shea butter to its Deep Moisture Day Cream, suitable for dry skin and ideal for use in colder climes.