Shea butter is a solid fatty oil that is extracted from the nuts of Karite trees which is most common in the western and central region of Africa. It has remained popular for use in beauty regimens since ancient times. Shea butter is useful not only for health and beauty, but also for the culinary arts. This versatile product has gained popularity in the last decade with the increased demand for natural and organic products for African American and black hair types.
Thanks to its wide array of benefits, Shea butter has many uses. This single substance can be used to heal, protect, and moisturize the skin, even serving as SPF. It is great for use as a lip balm, keeping chapped lips at bay. Those who struggle with growing and maintaining a healthy head of hair can look to Shea butter as their solution. This is not even to mention the fact that Shea is an essential ingredient in chocolates and wonderful when used in recipes of all sorts. In many households, it is considered a staple that must be kept in supply. It helps heal cuts, scrapes, and even wrinkles and stretch marks.
Choosing the Right Product
Understanding the difference between refined and unrefined Shea butter is very important, as this factor directly impacts the benefits received.
Raw or unrefined Shea butter is the best type of the butter for both therapeutic and cosmetic use because it is processed without chemical solvents. Since it is extracted by pressure it is not deprived of bioactive nutrients and its natural healing and moisturizing properties. Raw Shea butter comes in yellow and ivory colors and it is available either in blocks or packed in jars.
Row Shea butter has a strong earthy scent that many people find irritating, but this characteristic smell is actually a sign of a good quality product. The product is categorized into grades labeled from A to F. Class A is the purest form of the butter, with high content of healing ingredients, while class F is pure quality butter that may be also contaminated with harmful ingredients. To ensure that the product has passed proper safety and quality laboratory testing, purchase only Certified Premium Grade A Shea Butter.
To receive all healing benefits, make sure that you use the product before the expiry date. The shelf life of raw Shea butter is about 18 months. Its healing power declines with time, so very old product is not as beneficial. In order to keep the product fresh it is advisable to buy only small quantities.
The refined butter has been extracted using high heat and chemicals in order to remove the natural scent and color, and to give a smoother texture to the product. The process often involves adding additives, such as perfumes or chemical preservatives to maximize shelf-life. Raw, unrefined substance is to be preferred over refined, regardless of intended use, as the refining process adds toxins while removing vitamins, fatty acids and other bioactive nutrients.
Benefits for Hair
Unrefined Shea butter is loaded with vitamins, healthy fatty acids, and other phytonutrients that are needed for healthy hair and scalp. Natural anti-inflammatory properties enable Shea butter to nourish the scalp and hair without harmful health effects of chemicals. The product is easily absorbed into the scalp without clogging pores or leaving hair greasy. Another convenience is that it can be easily washed off afterwards.
Shea butter is excellent for those with dry hair, curly hair, irritated scalp, or hair growth problems. It can be used in numerous ways to treat a wide variety of hair conditions, leaving the user with a healthier head of hair. For dry hair, Shea butter helps keep moisture in. For oily hair, it helps create the proper balance of moisture. It helps curly hair be more defined. Shea butter soothes irritated scalp, nourishing, moisturizing and acting as an anti-inflammatory agent.
One of the greatest advantages to using Shea as a hair treatment is that it can be used in its most natural form without any further processing. Many hair care products include Shea as an ingredient, but users of such products miss out on benefiting from all that Shea butter truly has to offer. The amino acids and other nutrients this natural product contains means that users of it not only find relief for their dry hair, limp curls, or irritated scalp, but they build the health of their hair overall. It can be used as a moisturizer, deep conditioner, leave-in conditioner, scalp treatment, and even in shampoo.
Here are some common uses for this remarkable natural substance that you can add to your hair care regimen.
Seals Moisture into Dry Hair
Black hair is the driest hair type due to the texture. Shea butter soothes dryness and has restructuring effects on dry and fragile curly hair. When applied to the strands, it forms an outer protective coating that guards hair against moisture loss. It quickly absorbs without leaving the hair feeling greasy or heavy. It also softens brittle hair and mend split ends while adding shine and luster.
One of the biggest complaints voiced by those new to using pure Shea butter in their hair is that it makes their hair dry, or hard and brittle. However, this is simply due to the fact that using it for hair is a technique that must be mastered. Shea butter acts as a sealant on the hair not as a moisturizer. That means moisture must first be present so that the Shea butter can seal it in. If the hair is dry, applying Shea will only seal the moisture out, resulting in the hardness and dryness so many complain about. Instead, be sure to wet the hair first. Water is sufficient for this. In fact, it’s best to apply Shea butter directly after washing the hair, while the hair is still damp.
You can also add it to your rinse-out conditioner for extra moisture.
Shea butter absorbs easily into the skin without clogging the pores or leaving a greasy residue. It has anti-inflammatory properties that can help clear infections and soothe irritated scalp. When applied to a dry scalp, it helps replace natural oils lost to harsh detergents in hair shampoos and provides relief against undesired scalp problems such as psoriasis, dandruff, and flaking due to dryness. If your scalp is oily it helps balance oil production and gets your scalp back to normal.
Rub a quarter-sized amount of Shea butter on your hands and massage into scalp and hair working from the ends to the roots. Cover with a plastic shower cap and wrap your head in a towel to lock in the heat. Wait at least one hour before washing or leave overnight to refresh your scalp and keep it free from infections. It is often mixed with coconut oil as well as essential oils to make even more effective scalp treatment.
Hair Growth Stimulant
Scientific studies have found that Shea butter possess remarkable anti-inflammatory properties. Shea butter can penetrate deeply into the skin to reduce any harmful inflammation. It helps restore weakened hair follicles, providing a healthy environment to maximize hair growth. When administered to the scalp twice a week Shea butter has been shown to improve overall scalp health and to promote healthy hair growth.
Protection against UV Radiation
Prolonged sun exposure can dry out your hair and reduce its natural elasticity and strength. Too much sun can also damage hair follicles and cause hair color to fade. The cinnamic acid found in Shea butter has the capability to absorb some of the harmful ultraviolet radiations. With its SPF of 6 the butter provides a moderate protection against sun damage. When applied before swimming, it protects hair against the damaging effects of salt and chlorine. It also acts as a barrier against air pollutants.
DISCLAIMER: The content within only presents an overview based upon research for educational purposes and does not replace professional medical advice and consultations with healthcare professionals.
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