The recent spike in the popularity of natural Shea butter has compelled us to look at this natural fatty acid and its benefits. While the western world may have recently come across the magical benefits of shea or karaite butter, African women for centuries have used this product for invigorating their face and hair.
Known for its superior moisturizing properties and other skin care properties, this natural creamy butter is derived from the wild karaite trees that grows in tropical forests of Africa.
However the shea butter that is available in the market may or may not be natural or in its raw form. Before we look into the benefits of natural shea butter it is important to distinguish it from refined butter.
Natural Shea Butter vs. Refined Shea Butter
Collected from wild Shea trees, natural form of shea butter is extracted by grinding the karaite nuts and boiling them in water till the fat rises to the surface. This is then collected and allowed to cool and solidify.
The appearance of this natural Shea butter is slightly yellow in color with a nutty smell. In contrast to this refined methods of extracting Shea butter include the use of petroleum solvents for extraction of the oil.
This then further refined at high temperatures and using toxic substances. The result: a white odorless creamy form of the shea butter that has lost most of its useful properties that aid in the healing and moisturizing process.
Benefits of Natural Shea Butter
The prime benefit of this product is its moisturizing properties which refurbishes skin elasticity with constant use and evens out your skin tone. It helps prevent dry skin and itchiness caused by flaking.
The best part is it is quick absorbent, so you do not have to deal with a greasy face after moisturizing it. Its moisturizing agents allow it to be used in hair care products as well. It rejuvenates dry damaged hair and restores its luster.
In addition to this, shea butter also acts as a great sunscreen, protecting your face from constant sun damage. For people who have to deal with peeling skin after tanning, shea butter’s anti inflammatory properties helps in moisturizing the skin and removing sunburn.
Besides its apparent skin care properties, shea butter is also known for its healing benefits as well. Its antimicrobial properties along with presence of Vitamin A and C, helps in treating minor skin wounds, scrapes and rashes. People who have skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, are known to benefit from regular use of this natural product.
There are a number of cosmetic products using shea butter. This includes soaps, shampoos, lotions and creams. However the natural form of shea butter is the best option for people who want to gain the maximum benefits from it.