The Many Benefits of Raw Shea Butter and 20 Ways to Use It!

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Chances are pretty good that you have already heard about or even used shea butter, but you probably have no idea just how good this “butter” is for almost your entire body! We are going to give you a just a little background on what shea butter actually is and some creative and useful ways to use it that you never imagined!

First off, what exactly is shea butter? It’s not really a butter at all, but a solid fatty oil that comes from the nuts of Karite trees that are found in Africa and Asia. These trees give fruit and the nuts that are inside the fruit are where we get shea butter from. The nuts are harvested, crushed, boiled and manipulated into what we call shea butter. Pure, unrefined shea butter looks something like lumps of maple ice cream. Shea butter is edible, but most often it is used as a beauty cream and for medicinal purposes.

Raw or unrefined shea butter is preferred as in this manner it is at its most powerful and most pure form. However, being raw and unrefined means that it might have small pieces of the shell inside. This problem is easily solved; simply melt your raw shea butter in a pot on your stove (it will melt in moments) and then pour it through a cheesecloth or fine mesh screen to remove any pieces of nut shell that might be inside. This takes less than 5 minutes and is well worth the effort. Remember that the more refined any product is, the more nutrients it loses.

By the way, there are many women’s cooperative working to produce shea butter. Buying your shea butter from one of these cooperatives means that millions of women across Africa will have valuable employment and income to feed and care for their families. Look for one of these companies before you buy. Many of these cooperatives come with third party fair trade and sustainability certification.

One last note: although shea butter appears to be safe even for those who have allergies, if you have a tree nut allergy, you would be wise to talk to your doctor before using shea butter.

OK, now let’s get on to the top 20 ways you can use this absolutely amazing product straight from Mother Nature!

 

1. Healing Powers

You probably only think of shea butter as a skin moisturizer, but it also has super healing power! In fact, shea butter is often used as a base in many medicinal ointments because of its anti-inflammatory compounds. Shea butter has been used for hundreds of years to help stop eczema, lessen the appearance of scars, repair severely chapped lips, lighten dark spots, and greatly reduce the irritation caused by psoriasis and other skin problems. Shea butter is high in vitamin A and can help encourage healing and stop infection.

 

2. Serious Feet Treatment

If you suffer from heels that are so dry that they split and crack, or dry cuticles that snag and rip off (don’t those hurt like heck?) shea butter is the answer for you. If your heels are in seriously bad condition, simply wash them, then apply some shea butter before bedtime, then slip on some soft cotton socks. In the morning, your heels will be soft and supple again. Repeat once or twice a week to stop this from happening again. You can fix those try cuticles in much the same way. Simply rub some shea butter into those cuticles every night before bed to stop them from peeling off.

 

3. Aid the Shave

Men or women, doesn’t matter, this works for everyone. If you tend to get irritated skin from shaving, simply apply some shea butter to the area before you shave. Or if you really prefer a sudsy foam for shaving, apply some shea butter after you shave to soothe irritation. Read about other natural shaving products.

 

4. Antioxidant Agents

Shea butter contains catechins and antioxidants such as vitamin E and A. Antioxidants help to stop free radicals that cause premature aging to our skin and are the main cause of those darn wrinkles! Shea butter also contains cinnamic acid esters in the fat, which prevent skin damage caused by UV rays from the sun.

 

5. Great for Babies

When you use raw, unrefined shea butter you are using a completely natural moisturizer that is free from any chemicals, colors, or perfumes. That makes this the perfect moisturizer for your baby. You can use it on baby’s bottom to help heal diaper rash, or to prevent it in the first place. It’s also perfect for baby’s delicate skin after his bath.

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Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

6. Restore Elasticity to Your Skin

Vitamin A, E, and F, as well as non-saponifiable matter in shea butter are all important ingredients for helping skin maintain its elasticity. So for those with more mature skin, using shea butter as your moisturizer will help stop wrinkles and sagging skin.

 

7. Help for Dry or Irritated Scalps

Besides soothing dry, irritated skin on hands, arms, and feet, shea butter also works wonders on dry or irritated scalps. Since shea butter has anti-inflammatory compounds it helps to soothe skin without clogging the pores or leaving a greasy feeling behind. If you have dry scalp, dermatitis, psoriasis, or eczema, then you really need shea butter!

 

8. Natural Hair Protection

Shea butter will give your hair natural protection from the free radicals that are found in the water, air, and other weather conditions that are harsh on your beautiful locks. In fact, shea butter has a low SPF (about 6) so it can protect your hair from those UV rays. Shea butter is great protection for those who have colored or processed hair. It will also help swimmers protect their hair from salt, sun, sand, and chlorine pools.

 

9. Naturally Anti-Inflammatory

Shea butter contains several types of cinnamic acid, which have powerful anti-inflammatory compounds. Research shows that besides the soothing anti-inflammatory compounds, shea butter has one type of cinnamate, called lupeol cinnamate, which can actually stop the development of tumors.

 

10. Skin Food

More than just a moisturizer, shea butte is so rich in unsaturated fats non-saponifiable agents, vitamins E, D, A, and F, along with essential fatty acids, allantoin, and phytosterols, that you should really think about it as more of a skin food than a mere moisture replacement. Shea butter has been used for thousands of years for skin care. The Egyptian Queen Nefertiti is said to have given credit to her beautiful skin to her use of sea butter.

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Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

11. Awesome Anti-Aging Power

Shea butter is perhaps one of the best and most powerful anti-aging compounds you can use on your skin. Shea butter stimulates your body to make more collagen, which is what gives skin the dewy, fresh appearance. It also helps to keep the skin soft, supple, and nourished so that it looks radiant and youthful. Shea butter naturally penetrates the skin and won’t clog the pores.

 

12. Lip Care and Repair

One of the great things about shea butter is that you can use it just about everywhere on the body, including your lips! Because it’s easily absorbed, your lips won’t feel waxy or gooey. Shea butter will repair dry cracked lips and provide protection from the weather. It also has a natural SPF of about 6, which makes this the perfect way to treat and protect your lips from all types of weather, cold or hot.

 

13. Lose those Stretch Marks

Although the only way to truly rid yourself of those ugly stretch marks is to go through expensive laser or Retin-A treatments, but you can have almost the exact same results by using shea butter. With its anti-inflammatory compounds and richness in vitamins, testimonies across the internet will tell you that using inexpensive shea butter will do nearly the same job of removing those stretch marks.

 

SEE ALSO: Make Your Own Awesome Anti-Aging Sugar Scrub

14. Ditch the Itch

Almost like magic, the anti-inflammatory compounds of shea butter stop the itch from bug bites. It also helps to stop the swelling and redness too.

 

15. Stop Nasal Congestion

You would never imagine that shea butter could clear up your stuffy nose, but it’s true! The British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology published a study which showed that shea butter was more effective in clearing up congestion than typical nose drops. Study participants with seasonal allergies who had stuffed up noses where give about 2 grams of shea butter and told to apply it to the inside of the nostril (no special equipment needed, folks in this study just used their fingers.) Those who used shea butter found that their noses cleared up within 90 seconds after application and remained so for the next 5 to 8 hours!

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16. Natural Sunscreen

Although it has a low SPF of about 6, that’s all most of us really need, and it’s completely natural without any chemicals or perfumes for our skin to absorb. Most of us need more vitamin D and sun exposure and adding this to your skin before heading outside will give you some sun protection while still allowing you to take in the full benefits of vitamin D from the sun. Of course we aren’t advocating going outside in the sun for hours and hours, but for 30 minutes or so, this is all the protection you need.

 

17. Hair Repair

The benefits of shea butter for your hair are simply too long to list here! Use it as a conditioner and your scalp will benefit, which can lead to longer, stronger hair. Shea butter repairs split ends and nourishes dry, brittle hair. You will find that using shea butter rather than those drugstore conditioners will leave your hair shiny but not heavy or greasy. If you use any chemical straighteners or perms, or if you regularly use a blow dryer, curling iron, or straightening iron, you will love the way shea butter puts the moisture back into your hair and repairs the damage that these treatments cause.

 

18.  Hair Mask

You can replace your daily hair conditioner with shea butter, but using it twice a week as a hair mask will really do wonders for brittle or coarse hair. In fact, regular use of shea butter on your hair will actually help to control excessive oil on the scalp. Shea butter will help put the curl back into your naturally curly hair, without the frizz! Putting shea butter in your hair and scalp, then allowing it to soak in for 30 to 45 minutes under a shower cap will help restore your hair to its naturally beautiful self.

 

19. Reduce Cellulite

Although there aren’t any studies showing that shea butter can help remove cellulite, many people on the web will tell you that it has worked wonders for their cottage cheese thighs. Rub shea butter into your problem areas twice per day and you should see a difference after about 30 days.

 

20. Makes Makeup Last Longer

Applying a very small amount of shea butter to your face before you apply your makeup will keep your eye shadow, blush, eyeliner, even your lipstick, from fading away too quickly.

References:

Digitalscholarship.tnstate.edu

Pubs.acs.org