Shea butter, also known as Karite oil, is a product that is obtained by processing the nuts of the tree of the same name. This product has a thick consistency and at temperatures above 25 degrees it takes on a color resembling ivory. Shea trees themselves grow mainly in West Africa, so the majority of shea butter comes from there.
For several hundred years shea butter has been used as a cosmetic product. It contains a lot of vitamins and fatty acids, which provide such effects as skin smoothing, reducing inflammation and quality moisturizing. However, in addition to this, the product has a number of other features that encourage to include it in daily use. Let’s consider them in more detail.
Shea butter suitable for all skin types
Despite the fact that shea butter is derived from nuts, its protein content is relatively low. Therefore, when applied to the skin, this product is not able to cause an allergic reaction. Moreover, today not a single case of allergy to shea butter is known.
Another feature of this product is the absence of irritants that can lead to drying of the skin and clogging of pores. This makes shea butter one of the most versatile cosmetic products that can be used for all skin types.
Does not change the oiliness of the skin
As mentioned above, shea butter is high in oleic and linoleic acids. Both of these components balance each other, thereby improving absorption and preventing oily skin after application.
In most cases, the oil extracted from shea nuts is used to moisturize the dermis. This effect is due to the high content of fatty acids, namely linoleic, stearic, oleic and palmitic acids. When they come into contact with the skin, lipids are restored, which provides moisture retention and creates a barrier that provides protection from negative external factors.
Scientists report that shea butter has anti-inflammatory properties. Applying this cosmetic to the surface of the skin reduces the activity of cytokines and other inflammatory cells. The corresponding property of the product allows you to relieve irritation caused by negative external factors.
The active ingredients of shea butter include vitamins A and E, which are also known as strong antioxidants. They can slow down the aging process of the skin and also prevent the formation of age spots, which appear as a result of the negative effects of free radicals.
Does shea butter have antibacterial properties?
A 2012 study showed that regular consumption of shea bark extract can reduce microbial activity in animals. And despite the lack of experiments involving humans, scientists say that applying shea butter to the skin can reduce the number of harmful bacteria and prevent the formation of rashes.
Can be used to fight fungus
Products made from the nuts and bark of the shea tree can be used to prevent fungal skin diseases, according to researchers. And while shea butter is not capable of destroying fungal infections, this product destroys fungal spores that lead to the development of athlete’s foot and fungus.
Prevents skin rashes
Shea butter contains a large amount of fatty acids that allow the skin to be cleansed of impurities and prevent clogged pores. At the same time, these substances provide hydration, which improves the quality of the dermis.
As a consequence, the application of shea butter to the surface of the skin can observe the restoration of the natural water balance, which prevents the formation of acne long before the appearance of the first preconditions.
Stimulates collagen production
One of the active components of shea butter are triterpenes – substances that prevent the destruction of collagen fibers. Therefore, the use of this cosmetic can prevent a reduction in skin density.
Accelerates the process of cell regeneration
Due to its antioxidant and moisturizing properties, shea butter applied to the skin is able to accelerate the process of cell regeneration. It is worth mentioning that every day the human body generates from 30-40 thousand new cells and at the same time it gets rid of the same number of old cells. At the same time dead cells in most cases accumulate on the surface of the skin, which slows down the regeneration process.
Shea butter, providing normalization of the water balance, allows the timely disposal of unwanted cells. Thus, the application of this cosmetic to the skin provides an acceleration of the process of cell regeneration.
Reduces the formation of scars and stretch marks
According to researchers, shea butter slows down the reproduction of fibroblasts – the cells responsible for the formation of scar tissue. At the same time this product stimulates the growth of healthy cells. This property allows the skin to recover better, reducing the likelihood of scarring and stretch marks to a minimum.
Prevents the formation of wrinkles
By stimulating the formation of new cells and the production of collagen, shea butter is able to slow down the process of “photoaging”, which is accompanied by the formation of wrinkles and premature aging of the skin.
Provides protection against UV radiation
Shea butter can be used as an alternative to sunscreen when necessary. It can provide protection from harmful UV rays. Moreover, it can be used in combination with sunscreens to boost their effect, which is particularly useful if you plan to spend the whole day in the blazing sun. The SPF of shea butter is 3 to 4.
Reduces hair breakage
There have been no studies on the ability of shea butter to affect the condition of the hair. But in spite of this, scientists have noted that people who live in West Africa and use shea butter daily for their hair have much lower hair breakage than other people.
Can be used to treat dandruff
Some of the best treatments for dandruff include restoring scalp moisture levels. For example, one research review demonstrated that applying shea butter in combination with other moisturizers not only helps to get rid of dandruff, but also prevents the deterioration of the scalp.
Speeds up the treatment of skin conditions
The anti-inflammatory properties of shea butter reduce irritation and eliminate itching. Such an effect is very useful for skin diseases that are accompanied by inflammation, namely psoriasis and eczema.
According to some researchers, the effectiveness of shea butter in treating eczema and other skin conditions is comparable with specialized creams.
Helps with burns
Scientists have found that applying shea butter to the surface of the dermis reduces inflammation in mild burns, including those caused by prolonged exposure to the sun. The anti-inflammatory components of this cosmetic reduce redness and eliminate swelling, while the fatty acids provide moisture retention, thereby accelerating the healing process. But despite the widespread use of shea butter to treat burns, scientists need more research to confirm the effectiveness of this product.
Can be used for insect bites
It is not uncommon for people to apply shea butter to their skin after being stung by bees or other insects. According to unofficial reports, such application of the product can reduce swelling and relieve itching.
However, none of the studies conducted have confirmed such an effect. Therefore, if you have pain or swelling after an insect sting, you should always consult a doctor.
Accelerates wound healing
In addition to eliminating inflammation, shea butter is often associated with dermal remodeling, which is crucial in the healing of damaged skin. The fatty acids found in this product can prevent irritants from the environment from entering wounds, which has a positive effect on the healing process.
Reduces pain in arthritis
Arthritis is a condition caused by inflammation in the joints. A 2016 study showed that shea butter concentrate can eliminate inflammation and prevent the subsequent destruction of the joints in this condition. And while this study was conducted exclusively on knee joints, the product is also acceptable for use in other areas.
Reduces muscle pain
Excessively stretched muscles can cause some discomfort, which scientists attribute to the inflammatory process. Shea butter has anti-inflammatory properties that allow you to get rid of discomfort and speed up the recovery process of muscle fibers.
Relieves nasal congestion
In 1979 scientists found that the use of shea butter in combination with nasal drops can reduce mucous membrane inflammation, which eliminates such effects as nasal congestion. The corresponding effect can be very helpful for colds, allergies and sinusitis.
What are the useful properties of shea butter connected with?
All of the above beneficial properties of this product are related to its unique composition, which includes:
- Fatty acids that provide quality skin moisturizing and normalization of sebaceous glands;
- Vitamins A, E and F, which are powerful antioxidants that slow down the aging process of cells and accelerate the regeneration process;
- Triglycerides and fats – substances that provide nutrition to the skin;
- Cetyl esters – elements that retain moisture.
However, before using shea butter, it is important to pay attention to the region where the nuts were harvested. This parameter directly affects the composition. If necessary, shea butter can be used for skin care with the addition of a number of other natural ingredients, such as lavender or tea tree oils.
Shea Butter Usage Rules
Use on the skin
For skin care, this cosmetic product should be applied directly to the surface of the dermis. Due to its high density, this product is easy to distribute using your fingers or a teaspoon.
For maximum effect, the oil should be rubbed in until completely absorbed. It is desirable to perform this procedure just before going to bed, as it is impossible to apply makeup on the surface of the cosmetic.
Often shea butter is used as a means to improve the quality of hair. In case it is applied to curly hair, the product should be used like a conditioner. To do this, it should be applied and after making sure that most of it is absorbed, rinse it off.
When applied to straight hair, experts recommend treating only the ends of the oil. This is due to the fact that applying the product to the scalp can increase the greasiness of hair.
Where and how to store shea butter
In order to preserve its properties for a long time, shea butter should be stored in a dark place at room temperature.
Potential side effects
No cases of allergies to shea butter have been reported at this time. Therefore, even people with nut allergies can use this product for cosmetic purposes.
Despite this, overuse of this product can lead to consequences such as irritation and inflammation. If you experience one of these symptoms, see your doctor immediately.
Shea butter purchase rules
For those who want to experience all the benefits of using shea butter for face and hair, you should buy this product in raw and unrefined form. The more processed this product is, the lower the content of useful substances in its composition.
You can also determine the quality of the oil by using a special grading system from A to F. The purest product is labeled A, while F may have no vitamins, fatty acids and triglycerides at all.
Shea butter contains a huge amount of nutrients that can improve skin quality and slow down the aging process. This product is safe and can be used for all skin types. However, despite this, there is a slight possibility of side effects if you use this product too often. If you find them, contact your doctor immediately, who will determine their cause and suggest solutions to the problem.
Video: How Hand-Crafted Shea Butter is Made
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