Shea butter: properties and uses in cosmetics

What is Shea Butter

Shea butter, one of the main ingredients of our snail slime body cream , is one of the main substances in natural cosmetics worldwide.

It is obtained from a type of seed called shea nuts, belonging to the Vitellaria Paradoxa, a type of plant widespread in central Africa. The Karité plant is actually a tree with an imposing appearance, whose trunk can reach a height of ten or fifteen meters and a diameter of almost one meter.

Shea butter in its original state, used in African society for food and cosmetic applications, is yellowish in color and has a sweetish aroma. In cosmetics, a refinement of the substance is usually advisable so as to allow a loss of color and odor: in this way, the substance will be neutral and ready for use.

Its extraction is still carried out by hand, through a delicate process of selection and crushing of the seeds, followed by a cold pressing, able to keep its properties intact.
Due to its versatility, African populations exploit almost all the elements offered by the plant:

  • the peel and the pulp are eaten raw;
  • butter is used both as a condiment and for body care;
  • the processing residues are used as animal feed.

Even the hard wood of the trunk allows it to be reused to create tools of all sorts.
It is therefore a truly ecological material, not even being cultivated but collected in nature, where it is present in a natural way.

Read also: Jojoba oil: what it is and what are its properties

Properties of Shea Butter

Shea butter has innumerable properties, so much so that its effects could be defined as "medicinal": they range from an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial action to soothing effects for the skin. Given its delicacy, it can even be applied to a skin with small abrasions.

Rich in fatty acids and Vitamins A, E and F, it is a perfect substance to hydrate, soothe and heal sunburned or dry skin. It is also used to give relief in case of eczema or psoriasis. It helps significantly reduce the onset of stretch marks and provides relief in case of insect bites.

In addition to the above, it promotes cell renewal with the consequent elimination of toxins and contributes to improving blood circulation: very often it is used for small wounds and grazes.

In case of muscle and joint pain, shea butter confirms its undoubted and versatile qualities. The presence of cinnamic acid provides the substance a particular shield against some UV rays considered harmful to the skin. In the same way, its fat consistency creates a valid shield against the harmful effects of cold and wind. In Nigeria, it is used to treat sinusitis and relieve nasal congestion.

Among its many "miraculous" effects, it favours the healing of nail psoriasis and inflammation of the cuticles. As for the care of hands and feet, shea butter helps reduce the size and pain associated with the onset of calluses. Finally, remember the anti-ageing properties of the product: it helps counteract the furrows caused by wrinkles and is a valid ally for osteoarthritis problems.

woman applies shea butter on her face

Another tip could be to use butter as a hair mask. You will immediately notice that your hair, from dry and damaged, will once again enjoy an enviable condition: it will look shiny, nourished and soft to the touch.

However, some less pleasant sides of shea butter should be taken into account: fsome people find its smell too strong and not everybody  likes to use butter in its original state. They will thus be able to opt for deodorized and flavor-free versions, i.e. refined butter. Furthermore, its use is not recommended for people allergic to nuts or latex. As you have noticed, the "negative" sides are irrelevant compared to the innumerable benefits that the product can offer!

Shea butter can be used by adults and children alike, especially when it comes to infants: its emollient properties provide immediate relief against diaper rash. One caveat: shea butter takes time to melt and be absorbed by the skin. Do not use it if you have little time available and remember that the greater the absorption of the product, the more you will enjoy its innumerable benefits.

Image taken from Freepik

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