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 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 ageing, and even has some SPF qualities,
Shea butter contains 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 yield fruit for up to 200 years. It can produce berries the size of plums, one tree alone can produce 20 kg of fruit, yielding 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, which contains the maximum 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, it acts as a natural antioxidant for your skin. It contains several catechin compounds, which also offer anti-bacterial properties.
Natural SPF: Because the phytosterols in shea contain cinnamic acid esters, it acts as a UV protectant – SPF 3. This also gives shea some of its healing properties because these esters can reduce the skin’s superficial irritation and redness.
Anti-inflammatory: In Africa, shea is used to treating muscular pains and rheumatoid conditions; this is due to its cinnamic acid and oleic fatty acids properties. The cinnamic acid esters help to reduce redness (erythema) within your skin tissues.
Shea is extremely skin healing; It contains allantoin which is approved by the FDA. It is used as a skin barrier ingredient to prevent and protect chafed, chapped, cracked or windburned skin, this it does by speeding up your skin’s natural processes and increasing the water content.
It is very moisturising. You can find up to 50% oleic acids in shea butter; this gives the butter ita moisturising, regenerating, anti-inflammatory, skin softening properties, and around 40% stearic acid, which gives the butter its moisture retention, and skin flexibility. It also acts as an occlusive, locking water against your skin.
Anti Elastase: Shea helps to restore suppleness within your skin, and increasing moisturisation, this is due to its 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: Your skin readily absorbs this butter, making 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, you need to be selective, as the quality can vary tremendously.
Shea can be affected by several things; the variety, season, how the nuts have been collected, how they are handled, all of which affect your shea butter quality and colour. It is common for many natural companies to supply refined butter.
So be sure to take our advice, and only purchase the unrefined, cold-pressed variety 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 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. They usually achieve this by crash cooling in a fridge or not melting it, which is the best thing for these formulas.
So to quickly recap, the benefits that contribute to the amazing qualities of shea butter are:
- 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
We think you’d agree; we could do with a bit of Shea love in our lives.