Shea Butter the Skin Salvation Super Star

Updated 04/09/20

With lockdown in place, we’re looking for silver linings everywhere lately.

Giving in to small pleasures – because now is the time to do what truly makes us happy.

And if not now, when? Surely we deserve it?

One way to approach this is with a daily moisturisation ritual – and the star of the show – lovely shea butter.

Shea and I go way back – like an old friend it’s a beautiful relationship, one that’s lasted almost an entire decade.

Since graduating from using coconut oil on my sunkissed skin, I often adorn my skin in shea – only the raw, unprocessed stuff of course.

So without further ado, here are all shea’s moisturising benefits for you – and why you may just want to consider, incorporating it into your lockdown routine:

What the Heck is Shea Anyway?

Shea’s superstar qualities are endless, it reduces irritation, minimises redness, protects the skin, regenerates cells, heals wounds, moisturises the skin, wards of premature aging, and even has some SPF qualities,

Shea butter contains five essential fatty acids, a category which includes phytosterols, vitamins E and D, allantoin, and even vitamin A.

Often referred to as Butyrospermum parkii butter or vitellaria paradoxa, it’s a natural fat obtained from the fruit of the Karate tree.

This towering tree can grow as tall as 60 feet and incredibly can yield fruit for up to 200 years. It can produce berries the size of plums, one tree alone can produce 20 kg of fruit, and this can yield up to 4 kg of kernels which produces roughly about 1.5 kg of butter.

Now I think you’d agree, that’s a tree of plenty.

There are 2 methods of extraction:

  • Cold pressing is the traditional method of extraction. Shea nuts are traditionally harvested, crushed, and boiled to extract the Shea butter
  • The hexane extraction process is where solvents are used to extract the butter

We only use the organic unrefined handcrafted Shea, that contains the maximum amount of healing and moisturising properties.

The Skin Salvation Benefits

A natural antioxidant, as shea butter contains a ton of Vitamin E in the form of tocopherol and tocotrienols, which acts as a natural antioxidant for the skin and the butter It contains a number of catechin compounds, which offer anti-bacterial properties to shea butter.

Natural SPF is because the phytosterols in shea contain cinnamic acid esters which act as a UV protectant – SPF of 3. This is also what gives shea some of the healing properties because these esters can reduce superficial irritation and redness of the skin.

Anti-inflammatory: In Africa, shea is used to treat muscular pains and rheumatoid conditions, which is due to its cinnamic acid and oleic fatty acids properties. The cinnamic acid esters, help to reduce redness (erythema) within the skin tissues.

Shea is extremely skin healing, it contains allantoin, which is approved by the FDA as a barrier ingredient to temporarily prevent and protect chafed, chapped, cracked, or windburned skin by speeding up the natural processes of the skin and increasing the water content.

Very moisturising We find a lot of oleic acid in shea butter up to 50%, which offers moisturising, regenerating, anti-inflammatory, and softening properties, as well as around 40% stearic acid, which offers improved moisture retention, the flexibility of the skin, and skin repair. It acts as an occlusive to keep water in and prevent the elements from destroying our skin!

Anti Elastase: Shea helps to restore suppleness within the skin, and increases moisturisation. This is due to the fact that it is rich in stearic acid, which helps to give the skin its flexibility.

Shea is also thought to be useful for the prevention of stretch marks.

Penetrative Abilities: The skin readily absorbs this butter, helping to make the delicate tissue appear fuller and more hydrated after use.

More than a match for very dry or irritated skin, our Treatment Balm is packed full of this wonderful nourishing ingredient, helping to bring relief and comfort to troubled skin; from lips and hands to elbows and feet, to soothe the appearance of irritated skin. Shea is packed full of polyphenols, giving it excellent skin softening properties.

It is much milder and less solid than cocoa butter and gives skincare products more of a creamier, rich texture.

All Shea is not Created Equally

If you’re thinking of purchasing shea butter anywhere but from us, you do need to air on the side of caution, as the quality can vary tremendously.

The shea used is affected by a number of things; the variety, the season, how the nuts have been collected, how the nuts are handled All of which affect the quality and colour of your shea butter, it is common for many natural companies to supply the refined butter.

So be sure to take our advice, and only purchase the unrefined, cold-pressed variety that we use in our formulas like our healing treatment balm.

Why Does My Shea Balm Feel Grainy?

Sometimes shea butter can feel grainy in skin balms. This is because the butter fractionates when it is being heated, this means that the various fatty acids separate.

These fatty acids actually have different cooling points, some become hard quicker than others, which results in some of the fatty acids being solid while others still remain liquid.

To get around this a good manufacturer will want their formulas that contain shea butter to cool down very quickly, which will ensure that the different fatty acids solidify at the same time. This they usually achieve by crash cooling in a fridge or not melting it at all, is the best thing for these formulas.

The naked truth

So just to recap, what are the ingredients that contribute to the amazing qualities attributed to shea butter?

  • anti-inflammatory reduces redness – Cinnamic acid esters
  • protecting and regenerating and wound healing – Allantoin, oleic, stearic
  • moisturising skin – Polyphenols, oleic, stearic, occlusive nature
  • skin softening, suppleness – Polyphenol, tocopherols, oleic, stearic
  • anti-bacterial – Polyphenols – catechins
  • sunscreen SPF 3 – Cinnamic acid esters
  • Irritation – Cinnamic acid esters

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