Derived from the Shea nut tree which is also known as the tree of life, shea butter has been in use for a long time now, to aid numerous ill conditions of the hair and skin. The tree is found in the western regions of Africa, where the nuts from the fruits of the tree are dried, ground, and boiled in water, to extract shea butter. This is the traditional way of extraction. On the other hand, today, many companies use chemicals for extraction of shea butter, and refine the end product to a point where it is devoid of its natural scent and color, and can be stored for a longer period.
Organic shea butter on the other hand is not refined, and is derived using the method of cold press extraction. This pure butter has a strong nutty scent and a soft texture. The reason it is considered better is because its therapeutic properties are not altered in the process of extraction and because it remains unrefined. As such, it is known to be more effective than its refined counterparts.
Organic shea butter is rich in a number of vitamins such as vitamin A and E, which are important to maintain skin elasticity and keep it looking younger by preventing wrinkles and facial lines. The presence of these vitamins in shea butter makes it a natural (but mild) sun screen. It is also rich in vitamins that allow it to protect the skin, moisturize it, and keep it soft. These properties are useful even for the hair, which is why it is recommended as a natural hair conditioner that is overly damaged or over-processed.
In essence, this product will help in the following manners:
- Treating dry skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis
- Reducing visibility of stretch marks and stretch mark prevention
- Treating dry and cracked skin on feet and hands
- Conditioning hair to revitalize it
- Correcting skin discoloration and uneven skin tone
- Protecting skin and hair from pollution and sun damage
- Reducing visibility of scars
Products available in various stores contain low amounts of shea butter, and butter that has been refined. As such, its effectiveness is known to be much lower than that of organic shea butter, which needs to be used in very small amounts to attain its benefits.
How to Use It
Organic shea butter is available in its pure, raw form, as a lotion, and even in soaps and shampoos. Again, ensure that these products are certified as organic before you purchase them. These can be used in several ways. You can directly take a small amount in your hands and apply it on the affected area. Since it melts at body temperature it is easy to apply. For instance, you can apply some on your feet and then wear socks to prevent them from drying up by contact with other materials. Shea butter when used in large amounts can be greasy, so use a little at a time so that it can be absorbed easily by the skin. As mentioned earlier, if you are not comfortable with the scent, you can add a few drops of essential oils to it.
Shea butter can also be used by adding a small amount of it to a bathtub full of water and soaking in it. This eliminates the need to moisturize your body after a bath. This water can also be used on the hair to condition it. Another way to use it on hair is to rub a small amount from the scalp to the tips of the hair. It is a natural leave-in conditioner. If you must wash it, allow your hair to soak in the shea butter for at least an hour.
Shea butter has a butter-like consistency. If you want a creamy consistency, users suggest whipping it lightly so that it becomes creamy and can be spread easily. You may also heat it so that it spreads easily. However, do so at a low temperature (for a few seconds in the microwave or in a double boiler), else it can become gritty. This, of course, can be corrected by allowing the butter to solidify at room temperature so that it attains its natural form and then be used as and when required.
Several specifics help you identify whether the shea butter you are using is organic or not. When you use the organic version, be prepared for a strong nutty scent that accompanies it. Most manufacturers claim that this smell will be eliminated when it is applied to the skin. However, if you find it too strong, combine the amount you want to use with a few drops of essential oil (jojoba oil, for example), that will only double up the moisturizing properties it offers. An absence of the scent suggests that you may be using a refined shea butter product and not one that is organic. Keep in mind that the scent is strong and not bad.
A bad scent may indicate that the butter has become rancid. Since it is unrefined, organic shea butter can go bad very easily. It should be stored at room temperature, away from direct sunlight, so that it remains fresh for longer. Ideally, it should be used within a year from its manufacturing date. The color of organic, unrefined shea butter is a deep ivory, tending towards a golden shade. Its refined counterparts on the other hand are white and odorless. Finally, it is certified as 'organic' which can be identified by checking the label on the product.
The use of organic shea butter makes a huge difference to the quality and appearance of your skin. Further, this natural product can also be used on your hair, making it the perfect solution to all your hair and skin problems. If you are unsure about using this product, start by purchasing a small amount and see how it benefits you. If you think it helps, go ahead and purchase a larger amount and use it to correct all the problems you have been facing with your hair and skin. It is available online and may be found in stores that sell organic products.