Extracted from the nuts of the shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) that is native to Africa, shea butter is a fatty oil that exists as a solid at room temperature.
The Karite tree bears the fruits, and the nuts inside the fruits are of prime importance. These nuts are crushed, boiled, and manipulated to extract a light-colored fat, which is commonly referred to as shea butter.
The main components of shea butter include oleic acid, stearic acid, linoleic acid, etc. It gets absorbed quickly into the skin as it melts at body temperature. Its moisturizing and healing properties prove beneficial for many skin issues. It also has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties (to a certain extent) that can be utilized to treat many ailments. Its similarity to many vegetable oils makes it suitable for ingestion.
Why is Shea Butter Good?
Shea butter is often used in moisturizers, creams, lotions, and other emulsions for the skin and hair. It is rich in fats that make it an excellent emollient and skin moisturizing agent. Experiments also showed it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These can help reduce inflammatory skin diseases and the damage the skin and hair have undergone due to free radicals.
It also contains vitamins A and E, which not only keep the skin in optimal health but also protect it from being damaged by the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation. These components give shea butter a mild sun protection factor (SPF). Vitamin E also soothes dry skin and improves the skin’s elasticity, making this butter a good anti-aging agent.
Benefits Of Shea Butter For The Skin
Incorporating shea butter into your regular skin care routine will work wonders. Check out here.
1. Moisturizes Dry Skin
Shea butter is an excellent moisturizer for the face and the body. Its fat content is responsible for its emollient and humectant properties. It locks in the moisture in the skin and keeps it hydrated for long. Dehydrated and dry skin becomes rough and scaly. Certain areas of the body can even develop skin cracks due to dryness. Shea butter can nourish the skin with its fat content. It can also help to soften the skin on your hands and feet and make it supple. It penetrates the skin easily, without clogging the pores, and is effective for dry skin.
Use shea butter to heal cracked heels, dry cuticles, and rough patches on your skin. You can also use it to simply moisturize your skin during the colder months.
2. Treats Acne And Blemishes
Shea butter is known for its healing properties, which can be attributed to the presence of several fatty acids and plant sterols such as oleic, palmitic, stearic, and linolenic acids. These oil-soluble components do not undergo saponification or convert into soap on coming in contact with alkalis. Shea butter is more non-saponifiable than other nut oils and fats, thus imparting it great healing potential. Raw, unrefined shea butter is effective in curing skin rashes, skin peeling after tanning, scars, stretch marks, frost bites, burns, athletes foot, insect bites and stings, and acne.
3. Reduces Skin Inflammation
Shea butter has several derivatives of cinnamic acid that exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. These properties make it beneficial for the improvement of skin conditions that result from an increase in inflammatory compounds. Generalized inflammations from conditions like dermatitis and rosacea can be alleviated by using shea butter on the affected area. Sunburns, rashes, cuts, and scrapes that can result in swelling can also be treated using this butter.
4. Anti-Aging And Anti-Free Radical Agent
Shea butter is considered as one of the best anti-aging agents for the skin. It stimulates the production of collagen, the youthful scaffolding protein in the skin. The vitamins A and E found in this butter keep the skin supple, nourished, and radiant. If used regularly, it reduces wrinkles and also prevents premature wrinkles and facial lines. Its anti-aging properties can also be attributed to its ability to increase circulation to the skin and promote cell renewal.
These vitamins, along with catechins, also exert an antioxidant effect against free radicals that damage the skin. These free radicals are often found in our environment in pollutants and irritants. The sun’s rays can also increase the free radicals in our skin, which can easily damage the skin cells. The cinnamic acid esters in the shea fat prevent damage from these compounds by giving your skin an antioxidant boost.
5. Provides Relief To Itchy And Peeling Skin
For itching skin, both the moisturizing and the anti-inflammatory properties of shea butter prove to be beneficial. Dryness can cause your skin to start peeling and/or become flaky. It can cause the skin to itch. The moisturizing fatty acids of shea butter can provide relief by supplying the skin with the oils it needs. If the itching is due to a skin condition like psoriasis, the anti-inflammatory activity of shea butter works really well to alleviate it.
6. Restores The Elasticity Of The Skin
The non-saponifiable matter and vitamin F in this butter are vital ingredients for maintaining the skin's elasticity. Shea butter also improves the production of collagen in the skin. Thus, its application restores the natural elasticity of the skin besides hydrating, softening, and beautifying it. Restored elasticity also ensures reduced wrinkles and blemishes.
7. Reduce Razor Irritation And Bumps
Shaving hair using razors can often leave your skin irritated and itchy. At times, it might even develop bumps post shaving as a result of the irritation. Shea butter can help reduce this as it moisturizes and soothes the irritated skin. You can also apply the butter a day prior to shaving to smoothen the skin and hair. This will make the shaving process easier and faster and doesn’t leave any irritated spots behind.
8. Reduces Stretch Marks
Shea butter is often used as a base in ointments or creams prepared commercially for stretch mark treatment. This is because it can dramatically help prevent and reduce stretch marks formed during pregnancy due to weight gain and/or weight loss. These marks are formed when the skin stretches beyond its elastic capacity. The application of shea butter will restore the natural elasticity of the skin and also improve collagen production. It is a natural emollient. Daily massage of the affected area with this skin healing butter can lighten stretch marks.
Where To Buy Shea Butter?
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