Several years ago I was introduced to Shea butter. Having super dry skin, I was always on the look out for anything that would keep it hydrated and feeling soft.

Shea Butter Benefits

After learning about natural beauty products, I quickly found that Shea butter not only moisturized my skin like nothing else had, but it did so without making it greasy.


Shea butter comes from the nut of the African Shea tree. It is only available after a labor-intensive process that includes separating, crushing, roasting, grinding and finally collecting the separated oil and shaping it so it can be sold.

It’s slightly yellowish in color (some can be grayish) and is great to use in skincare recipes that call for fat, like whipped body butters. Because it melts at body temperature, it quickly absorbs into the skin, leaving it supple and moist.

Anti-Inflammatory

Shea butter can be used for its anti-inflammatory properties. (This study shows that in addition to being anti-inflammatory, it has anti-tumor producing compounds as well.) Because of this, Shea butter is used in all of my ointments and body butters and used liberally on my skin. Shea butter soothes quickly, making it ideal to keep on hand for skin that’s red, irritated or otherwise in need of some TLC.

Healing

Shea butter contains a number of fatty acids that promote healing.  Because of this, Shea butter plays an important part in my healing antibiotic ointment. This ointment continually amazes me with how quickly it helps wounds heal. I use it for diaper rash, fresh tattoos, scrapes, acne and other minor wounds. Owies just don’t last long in our house.

Moisturizing

Shea butter is able to deeply penetrate the skin and a little bit goes a long, long way. My favorite thing about Shea butter is its ability to moisturize without feeling greasy. I’ve tried lotions for dry skin in the past and hated how greasy my skin felt hours later. Shea butter rubs into the skin and after about twenty minutes, skin feels very moist, but not greasy. I’ve found that combining it with coconut oil helps it absorb even faster, leaving smooth, soft skin.


UV protection

Shea butter offers low-grade UV protection, especially when combined with coconut oil, which also protects the skin from harmful UV rays. Shea butter contains caffeic acid, which this 2009 study indicates is an antioxidant that protects us from UV rays. Applying Shea butter before going out in the sun can help prevent harmful skin damage, especially when you play it safe with sun exposure.

For higher grade UV protection, make homemade sunscreen with Shea butter and other natural ingredients.

Buying Shea Butter

Shea Butter Benefits 1

It’s important to get good quality Shea butter for use in your recipes. I recommend organic, unrefined (Grade A) Shea butter. While I like to look for local sources of products, I’ve been unsuccessful with finding high-quality Shea butter in my rural area.

If I drove a bit north to Portland, I might find some, but I prefer to get it online. I first got my Shea butter from Mountain Rose Herbs, but when I started using more (and they were sold out), I tried Shea Radiance. Both have excellent Shea butter, as do many other online sources.

Using Shea Butter

I use Shea butter in a number of recipes. Here are my favorites:

  1. Ultra-Moisturizing Foot Cream
  2. Homemade Herbal Bar Soap
  3. Herbal Antibiotic Ointment

Share your favorite ways to use Shea butter with the community below.


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Comments

  1. Keesha Doss says

    I just want to take a moment to tell you how much I really enjoy your posts. I don’t comment a lot but I do read every single one. That is saying a lot coming from someone who usually doesn’t read past the first paragraph if it doesn’t interest her. I follow several different natural blogs, but yours out-shines them all. Very few times do you tell me information that I do not devour and either print or save. I use your website as a guide often.. Thank you for all the hard work you do… I know I certainly appreciate it.

  2. Kristi says

    Since the process is labor intensive to extract shea butter from the nuts, perhaps this is another source of shea butter one could use: Shea Yeleen.

    Their Mission Statement: Shea Yeleen International is a unique social enterprise that includes a 501(c)3 nonprofit and a commercial entity that sells high-quality, unrefined shea butter products. Our mission is to promote sustainable economic development in rural sub-Saharan Africa, empower and train women-owned shea butter cooperatives, and educate consumers in the U.S. about natural beauty care products and fair trade.

    Not only would one be using a great product for their skin, but they would also be helping a country of women by allowing them the opportunity to improve their families and communities with an independent income.

    Thanks always for the informational emails!

  3. Lynn C says

    Hey! I love your blogs. The info is great! I bought some raw Shea butter through Amazon one time and the smell was so heavy I had a hard time using it. I’m hoping Mountain Herbs will be better!
    On another note – do you have a book with all this good information in one place?! Like a go to book!

  4. Jerrica Bowman says

    I have a question I hope someone can answer! Since shea butter is derived from a nut, does it then mean it is unsuitable for someone with a nut allergy? Does anyone with a nut allergy have any experience using shea butter?

  5. Pat Anderson says

    I stopped using commercial lotions a few years ago when I discovered shea butter (and coconut oil). I make my own body moisturizer using shea, coconut oil, jojoba and essential oils. Use it head (hair also) to toe. Love IT!

  6. says

    Like Pat, shea, coconut and jojoba are the only moisturizers I use. Jojoba is a great facial moisturizer on its own, and a whipper combo of shea and coconut can be used for everything else. If you don’t like the smell, a few drops of essential oil will take care of it. And because I have naturally kinky hair, shea and coconut are essential. I have bought all of these on Amazon with great success, but I am thinking of spreading the wea lth a little.

  7. Dawn says

    Please could you share the your recipe for body moisturizer, sounds fab, new to this, am loving my first discovery in coconut oil, keen to learn more :D this site is amazing. Thankyou

  8. Megan K says

    I happen to live in Portland. Could you share where to look for it? Either here in Portland specifically or, more generically, in any large city.

  9. says

    Megan – I’d look for a locally-owned natural health/food store. Search online for that or a natural foods co-op. I know there are a few in Portland.

  10. LynnLivingLife! says

    For those looking for a body butter I use 8 ounces of Shea or Mango butter to 1/2 cup or 4 ounces of coconut butter and 1/2 cup of jojoba oil or almond oil. Melt butters (shea and coconut oil) in a double boiler then aid almond or jojoba oil. Make sure you blend together well so they do not separate. I use a mixer for this. Place in fridge to harden and then use as you need. I take 1/2 cup out at a time to keep in my bathroom and keep the rest in the refrigerator until needed.