Transform Your Skin with Shea Butter
Shea butter is one of the most tried and true natural moisturizers dating all the way back to ancient Egypt. There are accounts from the days of Cleopatra of storing shea butter in clay jars to keep skin healthy and nourished against the grueling impact of the desert sun and wind. With its powerful nourishing qualities, shea butter remains a favorite product today in many natural cosmetics and lotions.
Even though shea butter is a household name we are all familiar with, you may not know much about its origin. Africa is home to the shea tree, where shea butter was originally harvested and continues to be popular today. The shea tree produces a seed filled fruit, which is then extracted to yield the fat we know of as shea butter. Although it is rarely used for cooking in the United States, it is used in Africa and occasionally alongside cocoa butter in certain chocolates.
When it comes to skincare, shea butter is one of nature’s greatest gifts with an abundance of vitamins and fatty acids, giving it the ability to protect and nourish the skin holistically.
The most prominent vitamin present in shea butter is Vitamin A. This vitamin is often referred to as the anti-aging vitamin because it strengthens and stimulates the dermis, helping boost collagen and fibroblast production. Collagen is the most abundant protein found in our skin and is responsible for providing strength and structure. When collagen is lacking the skin loses its elasticity, increasing the appearance of wrinkles. Fibroblasts are a type of cell necessary for collagen production, making the two go hand in hand in when helping skin to feel as youthful as possible. Vitamin A also works to increase the blood flow to the skin’s surface, lessening the normal breakdown of collagen and elastin that occurs with age and exposure to the elements.
Vitamin E is another skin essential that is found in shea butter. This vitamin is often associated with healthy skin; however, when used on its own, Vitamin E oil can be too heavy and greasy for everyday use. When administered in a smaller dose in conjunction with other vitamins such as in shea butter, Vitamin E is not as thick and still has the same positive impact on the skin. Vitamin E is beneficial to the skin because it is an antioxidant. Antioxidants work to combat free radicals, which are unstable molecules that form reactions on the skin, causing cell damage. Due to environmental exposure such as UV rays, the skin risks developing cell mutations, leading to signs of aging. This is where Vitamin E’s antioxidant qualities step in to mitigate the harmful impact of free radicals. Additionally, Vitamin E helps to strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier, making it an essential ingredient in lotions and post-sun treatments. By integrating antioxidant-rich vitamins into your beauty routine, your skin will be safer from unavoidable environmental damage.
A vitamin that we do not hear about as often is Vitamin F. This is because Vitamin F does not fit into the standard category of vitamins since it is actually an omega-6 fatty acid known as Linoleic Acid. Vitamin F is best known for its hydrating impact on dry or tired skin. This fatty acid is naturally hydrating, thoroughly working its way deep past the skin's surface barrier. Since Vitamin F can permeate the skin’s surface, it also makes it an important element to pair with antioxidants such as Vitamin E, allowing the antioxidants to penetrate further into the skin. Additionally, Vitamin F is an essential supplement because the body does not naturally produce it. When there is a deficiency of omega-6, this can lead to dry skin and decreased cell regeneration. By adding shea butter into your skincare regimen, Vitamin F will help minimize this deficiency.
Shea butter is also rich in fatty acids such as Oleic Acid, which is what gives shea butter its trademark thick, creamy texture. This fatty acid is one of the primary reasons that shea butter is so moisturizing. Oleic Acid works with the skin’s natural barrier to lock in moisture and keep skin from becoming dry. This deep hydration can help keep skin cells from becoming damaged and can help your skin retain a supple, youthful glow.
Another fatty acid present in shea butter is Stearic Acid. This fatty acid can be found naturally on the skin’s surface, but sometimes the skin needs an extra boost to combat the drying effects of the environment. Stearic Acid is a major contributor to the oil-based topmost layer of the skin. This protective barrier not only helps retain moisture, but it also helps improve the skin’s immune function. By supplementing the natural presence of Stearic Acid, you will help support healthy and hydrated skin.
One of shea butter’s unique qualities is its anti-inflammatory function, and Cinnamic Acid is responsible for this beneficial property. Cinnamic Acid occurs naturally in a variety of plants and can soothe irritated skin with its anti-inflammatory effect. Another quality that Cinnamic Acid possesses is the ability to stimulate cell production, making it a perfect complement to Vitamin A and Vitamin E’s anti-aging properties. This trio found in shea butter is one of the many reasons that it is valued as a soothing substance that not only moisturizes, but also helps to minimize signs of aging.
The variety of vitamins and nutrients found in shea butter have made it an invaluable skin care product for thousands of years. After ages of use, a multitude of functions for shea butter have been discovered. The most obvious and popular use for Shea butter is as a moisturizer. The high concentration of Vitamin E and fatty acids makes it a holistic method of moisturizing all over the body. Shea butter can be used on its own or in conjunction with other natural restorative oils. OZNaturals has formulated a Natural Body Butter that harnesses the myriad of benefits found in shea butter, while enhancing them with complimentary oils such as macadamia nut oil and sweet almond oil. For a particularly luxurious boost of hydration, OZNaturals also carries a Body Soufflé that not only contains shea butter but also includes naturally restorative olive and jojoba oil. This whipped texture can be used throughout the body for hydration or as a relaxing massage cream. The skin can easily absorb this combination of oils, creating a natural moisturizer that is free from added fragrances and chemicals.
If you are feeling a bit crafty and want to create an at-home moisturizer using shea butter, you can try making DIY shea butter bars. This DIY bar is an excellent way to deliver an extra dose of moisture on the go or to give as a gift. Start by melting equal parts shea butter, coconut oil and beeswax in a double boiler so that you do not burn the ingredients. On your first try, begin with half a cup of all ingredients to ensure you like the final product. Once the ingredients have melted, gently stir them together until they blend into one smooth liquid. Next, pour the mixture into smaller molds. You can try using a cupcake pan, ice tray or any other vessel you have available. It is easiest to use a soft mold so that you can easily pop the bars out when they harden. Finally, let the bars cool until they are solid, remove them from the mold, and you are left with a handy way to apply shea butter throughout the day.
In addition to all-over moisture, shea butter can be used to target areas of extreme dryness. During the cold winter months, lips tend to pay the price and end up chapped and cracked. Try applying a healthy dose of shea butter around the impacted area before bed. The shea butter will work its way deep into the skin overnight, helping nourished damaged skin and better preparing you for the day ahead. Another target area that Shea butter can help heal is cold-irritated nose. When you have a cold, the nose tends to take a beating from excessive rubbing and exposure. Try applying shea butter before bed for overnight healing. Additionally, you can apply a thin layer before putting on your makeup for the day, giving skin an extra dose of protection and moisture.
Shea butter is commonly thought of as body butter, but it is extremely beneficial to the face as well. Not only do the fatty acids and nutrients help the skin retain its natural moisture, but the Vitamin A also helps work against signs of aging while Vitamin E combats free radicals. This unique paring of nutrients makes shea butter an essential ingredient in OZNatural’s Super Youth 2.5 Retinol Moisturizer. Our night cream pairs the anti-aging qualities found in shea butter with other beneficial ingredients such as Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin B5, Rose Hips and Blueberry Fruit Extract.
For those of you who truly want to commit to all-natural beauty products, shea butter can also be used as a deodorant. With a little bit of work, you can make a deodorant stick from the comfort of your kitchen. Similar to the DIY moisturizing bars, slowly heat three tablespoons of shea butter and three tablespoons of coconut oil in a double boiler. Once the mixture has melted, stir and remove from heat. Next, stir in three to four tablespoons of baking soda. During this step, you have the option to add any essential oils for fragrance. Finally, pour your concoction into a mold and allow it to cool. This process will take a few hours. Before use, you should test the deodorant on a small area of skin to ensure that it does not cause any irritation. This is a practice you should make a habit of with any DIY beauty products. Once your shea butter deodorant is solid, you can store it in the cabinet, but if it becomes extremely hot during the summer months, you may need to store it in the refrigerator.
Another useful way you can work shea butter into your beauty routine is to apply it before and after sun exposure. The barrier layer that Shea butter forms is known to provide the same level of protection as a SPF 6 sunscreen. Although you should always apply a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher before spending time outdoors, using a lotion with built-in protection is a great start. Additionally, the restorative and anti-inflammatory properties in shea butter have been found to help lessen the duration and severity of sunburns. Even though you should always strive to protect your skin from sun damage, sometimes a burn still manages to make its way through. Next time you fall victim to the sun’s harsh rays, try applying shea butter to alleviate the painful aftermath.
Now that you know a variety of useful ways you can integrate shea butter into your skincare routine, you must ensure that you buy the right shea butter. Some retailers attempt to make shea butter seem more appealing through artificial fragrances, refining, and bleaching. When shopping, you should aim to find Grade A shea butter, which means that it has not been refined. Although the refining process does not completely strip the shea butter of its moisturizing properties, it does lose some of the vitamins and nutrients that aid in skin protection, anti-inflammation, and anti-aging. Many shea butters found in stores will not have the grade listed, so look for keywords such as raw, unrefined, organic and unbleached. By purchasing natural shea butter, your body will experience the highest concentration of its benefits.
Shea butter is a powerful skincare product that has withstood the test of time. With its many uses, shea butter is a great product to have on hand for both daily uses and extra moisturizing treatments. Shea butter products not only deliver rejuvenating elements to the skin, but they do so without exposing the skin to unnatural chemicals and additives. Look for shea butter in beauty products to tap into its benefits today!