The Wonders of Shea Butter
With all of the freezing cold weather here in Massachusetts this winter, my go to ingredient has been shea butter. I've come to love it so much that I always carry a tin of raw shea butter in my bag so I can moisture my hands, lips and cuticles anytime they need it. I love how it instantly moisturizes and leaves my skin feeling soft for a good while, even after hand washing.
Shea butter comes from the nut of the karite tree also known as the shea trea which grows in the wild in west and central Africa. The tree takes 50 years to mature and can live to 300 years! To extract the butter, the tree nuts are cracked open and roasted. The butter is then scooped out and kneaded. Pure unrefined shea butter has a distinct nutty smell and is either cream or yellow in color. While some find the smell of unrefined shea butter unpleasant it does dissipate quickly after putting it on your skin.
Shea butter is great because it's such a multi-tasker.
- It may help with wrinkles due to it's natural vitamin A content when used regularly.
- It helps moisturize and protect skin due to the high fatty acid content (oleic, stearic and linoleic). These acids are excellent emollients that seal moisture into dry skin.
- It also has a decent vitamin E content . Vitamin E is a powerful anti-oxidant that helps fight off free radicals.
- Shea butter is rich in a type of triterpene called cinnamic acid which has been shown to help with inflammation. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20484832)
I find that shea butter is useful for so many skin conditions! Here are some of the many:
- Dry skin anywhere on your body (I especially love it on my hands.)
- Rough skin (especially of feet and elbows but also on the face)
- Itchy skin (from rashes, insect bites and even poison ivy)
- Sunburned skin
- Cracked skin and peeling skin
- Rashes from eczema and dermatitis and diapers
- Scars and stretch marks
- Scalp conditioner
- Dry, brittle hair
- Cuticles and nails
One of the great things about shea butter is that not only is it non-toxic (it's rated a "1" on the EWG skin deep cosmetics database, meaning it's thought to be very safe) but it's also non-comedogenic. This means that it won't clog your pores. It's rated a 0 on a scale of 0 to 5 on the comedogenic index. Shea butter is solid but pliable in cold weather but melts at skin temperature and is absorbed quickly as it penetrates the skin.
Shea Butter should not pose a risk to those who suffer from tree nut or peanut allergies according to Food Allergy Research Program at the University of Nebraska. (https://farrp.unl.edu/shea-nut-butter) We do however recommend a patch test. Those will allergies to Latex type B may be allergic to shea butter as it contains a natural latex.
If you're suffering from crazy dry skin like me, please check out Be Green Bath and Body's products that contain pure, organic, unrefined organic shea butter. It can be found in these products: Shea Butter Tin, Shea Butter Hand Cream, Herbal Miracle Balm and Baby & Sensitive Skin Balm.
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