I have been using Shea butter off and on all of my life. During my early years, it was part of my nightly bath time routine. The moment my bath was over, my mother would have a towel in one had and a nugget of fresh Shea butter in the other. She would dry me with three quick swipes of the towel, squeeze her palms together and her heavy hands would rub the golden cream into my damp skin.
In our home, it was always around therefore easy to overlook. As I grew into my formative years, I discovered my friends with non-African backgrounds did not use Shea butter for their skin needs, but instead used pretty scented creams from Victoria’s Secret, Bath and Body Works etc. I decided the creams they used had to be much better than the Shea I had been using since I was a baby (because we know everything at the age of 16). So I strayed, and spent the little money I had from my allowance and babysitting on the heavy scented creams and perfumes my friends used. It was fun for a while, being able to compare and discuss what scents we loved and couldn’t stand to wear one more time…. But boy was I wrong about them being better just because they cost more.
I returned to Shea during my college years and I haven’t looked back! At the time I did not have the funds to get expensive spa treatments and body scrubs, yet I still received many compliments on my uber soft skin. I rediscovered all of the wonderful benefits of pure, organic Shea butter. I used it as my make-up remover, nail, cuticle, and hair conditioner, skin moisturizer, pre-lipstick application and under eye night treatment. It was so cost effective and worked like magic.
Now some background…
Shea butter is a skin super food that comes from the seeds of the fruit of the Shea tree also called the Karite tree. It is naturally rich in vitamins A, E, F and good fatty acids. It offers UV protection and stimulates the production of collagen. Collagen is responsible for skin strength and elasticity, and its degradation leads to wrinkles that accompany aging. With it, skin appears more supple, alive, nourished, and radiant.
Shea butter has a reputation of being one of nature’s wonders. It has been used for over thousands of years by generations of people in Africa. The most popular uses are for skin care, hair care, baby care, healing and food.
The Egyptian queen Nefertiti, was said to owe her legendary beauty to the use of Shea butter. It is difficult to fact check that statement, but it isn’t entirely impossible. For all of its simplicity, Shea butter provides exactly what our skin needs to renew, repair, and protect.
Keep in mind not all Shea butters are made equal. There are two kinds of She butter. Refined and Unrefined. Refined Shea Butter is extracted by a chemical process, which involves bleaching, deodorizing, and the addition of solvents (usually hexane). This is known as “green washing”. These altering chemical processes yield a white odorless Shea butter that has lost all of its moisturizing, protecting and healing properties. This is the type of Shea butter that goes into chocolate making.
Unrefined She butter is extracted manually or mechanically to maintain its natural state. It has a mild nutty-smoky scent and a golden color. This Shea butter has retained al of its precious healing properties refined Shea butter looses. This is the kind of Shea butter you want to look for.
Good skin is thought to be the first step to overall beauty. Clear, supple, even toned skin is constantly sought after, which is why skin care is a billion dollar industry.
When it comes to hair, a Shea butter mask or hot oil treatment gives hair a wonderful boost of nourishment. It adds vitality, suppleness and shine to your hair. It is effective in soothing dry itchy scalp, repairs breakage and mends split ends.
I give myself a Shea hot oil treatment after any type of chemical treatment I subject my hair to, like a perm, color etc.
I have a special recipe that never fails me.
Put all of the ingredients in a heat resistant container and heat over a double boiler until the Shea butter is almost completely melted (do not over heat).
Let it cool to a slightly above warm temperature and apply to hair and scalp. Place a plastic cap on your head.
Leave on for 15 to 30 minutes. Rinse, and follow with your favorite shampoo/conditioner.
Thank me later.
I still love to try many different cosmetic products. There are so many out there. I like to see how they compare with each other and to see if I find one with a scent that will make me fall in love (still searching). However, Shea is my number one ‘go to’ for skin and hair. I have never found anything that meets all my beauty needs like Shea. Like with most things you must be consistent with its use. If you have yet to try it, go ahead and take the leap. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t love some good Shea.
Akofa Alexandra is the founder of SheaSimply. Follow her on Instagram @wearesheasimply.