The nutrients you feed your skin are just as important as the nutrients you feed your body. After all, your skin is your largest organ. We all know the way in which you prepare your food determines how beneficial it is for your diet. For example, yes, chicken is healthy. But once you batter and deep fry it, it is no longer a healthy source of protein. The same goes for the ingredients in your skin care. Shea Butter is notoriously a beneficial skin care ingredient and can be found in most moisturizers. But, is the Shea Butter that is found in your drugstore moisturizer in its best form? Chances are, you are being cheated of the awesome benefits you could be getting from this magical, buttery, goodness (and not the friend chicken kind.)
Shea Butter comes from a nut that is harvested from Shea trees which are indigenous to the savannah of Western Africa. The Shea tree is also known as “The Tree of Life” and can grow up to 60 feet tall and live to be up to 200 years old- so, I’ll have what its having. This tree is considered sacred in many parts of the world because of the numerous benefits it provides for skin, hair, and overall health. When extracted properly Shea Butter has the ability to renew, repair, and protect skin against aging and the effects of harsh climates. It can also be used as a remedy to cure a ton of other skin issues that I will list later. While Shea Butter is an amazing ingredient to include in your skin care routine, not all Shea Butter is created equal- and the differences are huge.
There are two types of Shea Butter- refined and unrefined. While I love a good short cut, you do not want to endorse short cuts when it comes to your skin care ingredients. The way in which unrefined Shea Butter is removed from the seeds is a time consuming, but necessary, process in which all of the beneficial properties of the Shea Butter remain unaltered. In this process the workers, which are typically young women (girl power), gather the nuts, boil them (making the shells easier to remove), wait for them to dry, pound the seeds to break open the walnut-like shell, and remove the inner seeds. The inner seeds are then beaten with water and boiled to extract the fat. Once the fat cools, the mixture is whipped into a smooth butter that is the magical ingredient we all know as Shea Butter. Because this ingredient is in such high demand, a lot of manufactures are taking short cuts which result in refined Shea Butter. In this process the nuts are broken open using harsh chemicals which speed up the separation of the fat from the seed. The chemicals used strip the Shea Butter of its beneficial properties and also removes the natural odor. This is why products that contain refined Shea Butter often include preservatives, fragrances, and other fillers that you do not want to find in your skin care.
My go to choice for a daily body moisturizer is Crème of the Crop. This thick and creamy body butter contains high quality, unrefined Shea Butter along with other beneficial ingredients including lavender water, aloe vera, and rosemary extract great for hydrating and retaining moisture in the skin. Because there are no added fragrances, Crème of the Crop has nothing but a subtle, natural scent making it perfect for sensitive skin. The best part about this particular Shea Butter is that it is purchased from a corporation in Africa that harvests responsibly to ensure that Shea trees are protected and continue to thrive. The way in which ingredients are harvested are just as important to the environment as they are to your skin.
Oh yeah, here is what Shea Butter can be used for:
- After-sun salve
- Wrinkle prevention
- As shaving cream
- Small skin wounds
- Cracked skin
- To soften heels and calluses on feet
- Frost bite
- Stretch mark prevention
- Insect bites
- Muscle fatigue or aches
- Skin allergies such as poison ivy
- Skin damage from heat including radiation treatment
- Naturally protects skin from ultraviolet radiation
- Reduces irritation caused by psoriasis