What is Shea Butter? Your Ultimate Guide
What is shea butter and what can it do for your skin? When it comes to hydration, there’s really no better ingredient than shea butter. Packed with fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants, shea butter is a go-to ingredient for anyone dealing with dryness or sensitivities. You’ll usually find it in creams, lotions, and body butters. It’s rich, hydrating, and offers numerous benefits to both the skin and hair.
Here’s your ultimate guide to shea butter and the best skincare products that contain this superstar ingredient.
What is Shea Butter?
Shea butter is a plant lipid that’s rich in fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins. What is shea butter made from? This fat is extracted from African shea tree nuts. The shea tree produces fruits, and inside these fruits are seeds, commonly referred to as shea nuts. The nuts contain a rich, ivory-colored fat that is extracted and processed to obtain shea butter.
The process of extracting shea butter involves crushing and boiling the shea nuts to release the fat, which is then separated and allowed to cool and solidify. The resulting shea butter has a creamy texture and a characteristic nutty aroma. Shea butter contains five essential fatty acids (including stearic acid, oleic acid, and palmitic acid) as well as vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin E.
Shea butter has been used for centuries in West Africa for its various skin benefits. With its easy-to-spread consistency, shea butter is an excellent product for smoothing and conditioning the skin. While it’s suitable for all skin types, it’s especially good for those with dry skin and sensitive skin.
Benefits of Shea Butter for Skin
There are numerous shea butter skin benefits. Now you know what is shea butter let’s take a look at its top benefits.
Shea butter is an excellent skin hydrator that softens and smooths the skin. This is due to its lineup of fatty acid content, including linoleic, stearic, oleic, and palmitic acids.
When you apply shea topically, these oils quickly absorb into the skin. They help to restore the skin barrier, holding moisture in and alleviating dryness. That’s why you’ll find shea butter in products designed to hydrate such as creams, lotions, lip balms, and hair masks.
Shea butter contains anti-inflammatory compounds, such as cinnamic acid. This makes it useful for soothing dry, irritated skin and easing symptoms of skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis. Shea butter can also be helpful for soothing sunburn. While it may not directly treat sunburn, applying shea butter to sunburned skin can provide relief by moisturizing and helping to reduce dryness and peeling.
Helps Reduce the Appearance of Scars
Shea butter is also known for its healing properties. Its anti-inflammatory properties can aid in the healing process and reduce scarring. Shea butter helps to heal sunburned, cracked skin too and can even soothe skin allergies and insect bites.
Shea butter hydrates, nourishes, and soothes the skin. Especially during the winter months, shea butter protects the skin and keeps it plump. This powerful emollient also promotes collagen production in the skin, helping to maintain skin elasticity and firmness.
May Control Acne and Oiliness
Its high content of fatty acids helps clear your skin of excess oil (sebum). Shea butter restores moisture to your skin and seals it in so your skin doesn’t dry out—preventing the overproduction of oil. It restores the natural balance of oils in your skin which prevents pores from becoming clogged and acne from forming.
Shea butter contains vitamins A and E, which are known for their antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help protect the skin from free radical damage, which is associated with premature aging. Plus, shea butter is said to promote collagen production which can help to soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Best Shea Butter Products
We’ve rounded up the best shea butter skincare products, including moisturizers, lip balms, and shaving butters.
Truly’s Unicorn Blast Bundle
Moisturize, polish, and plump with these fairytale-worthy formulas! You get: our 2-in-1 ultra hydrating body butter that doubles as a signature scent, our brightening, cleansing polish and the plumping lip balm that works all over. Packed full of shea butter, acai, matcha, and vegan collagen booster. With an addictive cotton candy scent.
Truly’s Booty & Boobies Bundle
Our bestselling body polishes—bundled! This iconic duo targets stretch marks, sagging, and discoloration on your boobs and butt with a lineup of plumping, tightening ingredients such as shea butter, retinol, and watermelon. Get ready to meet your firmest tush and tatas.
Truly’s TikTok Routine
Introducing…the products that amassed over 40 MILLION likes on TikTok. Treat yourself to this 6-piece set featuring Truly’s cult-faves—Acai Your Boobies Polish, Buns of Glowry Polish, Coco Cloud Shave Butter, Moon Rocks Body Scrub, #Heart Your Imperfections Blemish Patches, and the iconic Unicorn Fruit Body Butter. Formulated with key ingredients like retinol, shea butter, wheat protein, vitamin E, and coconut milk.
Truly’s Ultimate Coco Cloud Shave Set
Put a tropical spin on your shaving routine. You get: a whipped shave butter, after shave serum, and moisturizer enriched with coconut milk, shea butter, and argan oil to secure the smoothest shave minus ingrowns and irritation. With a delicious coconut and warm vanilla scent.
Truly’s Glass Skin Set
Get glossy, clear skin with this 2-step routine featuring a 2-in-1 cleanser and makeup remover + serum. Formulated with jojoba oil, niacinamide, and shea butter, these two formulas melt away impurities while drenching skin in moisture and minimizing large pores. It’s your shortcut to selfie-filter skin.
Does Shea Butter Clog Pores?
Shea butter is non-comedogenic and does not clog the pores. Many people with acne-prone skin are concerned that excessive moisturizing will clog the pores and worsen blemishes. While shea butter is extremely hydrating, it is a non-comedogenic ingredient, meaning it will not clog the pores and trigger breakouts.
That said, you should look out for other ingredients in shea butter products to check they’re not comedogenic. If you’re using raw shea butter, you will not have to worry about it congesting your pores.
Watch us whipping up our shea butter-based butt polish
@trulybeauty Part 1 🤫 #asmr #beauty #bunsofglowry #bodypolish #makingskincare #swirl ♬ original sound - Truly Beauty
Is Shea Butter Good for Hair?
Shea butter is considered highly beneficial for hair health. That’s why you’ll find this natural product in many haircare treatments, especially conditioners and masks. Here are the benefits of shea butter for hair.
Shea butter is rich in fatty acids, which provide deep moisturization to the hair. It helps to hydrate dry and damaged hair, making it softer and more manageable. Shea butter forms a protective barrier on the hair shaft, sealing in moisture and preventing water loss.
Prevents Breakage and Split Ends
The moisturizing properties of shea butter help to reduce hair breakage and split ends. It strengthens the hair shaft, making it more resilient and less prone to damage. Shea butter is especially useful if you have dry, damaged hair as it can help to strengthen your strands.
Promotes Hair Softness and Shine
Shea butter contributes to the softness and shine of the hair, providing a smooth and lustrous appearance. If your hair feels dry or unruly, using a shea butter product can help make your mane more manageable.
Shea butter’s ability to moisturize and smooth the hair cuticle helps in reducing frizz. This is especially advantageous for those with curly hair. Look for nourishing shea-based hair masks, conditioners, and creams to fight frizz.
Is Shea Butter Good for Eczema?
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, shea butter can be effective for easing symptoms associated with eczema. It can help to soothe the skin, relieve itching, and improve skin texture. Best of all, because it absorbs rapidly, shea butter provides quick relief for eczema flare-ups. Research shows that shea butter may even work just as effectively as medicated creams in treating eczema.
Opt for high-quality, unrefined shea butter as it retains more of its natural properties. Unrefined shea butter is typically raw and has not undergone extensive processing. If you're using refined shea butter for eczema, be sure to conduct a patch test first to ensure your skin reacts well to the product.
Does Shea Butter Lighten Skin?
Shea butter has been shown to have skin lightening and brightening effects. Vitamins A and E, which are present in shea, help to minimize the appearance of dark spots and even out the skin tone. It also contains a compound called arbutin, which has been proven to treat hyperpigmentation and discoloration on the skin.
It is important to note that shea butter’s skin-lightening effects are generally mild and gradual. Unlike some harsh chemical skin lightening agents, shea butter is considered a natural and gentle option. However, individual skin reactions may vary, and results can take time to become noticeable.
Is Shea Butter Comedogenic?
Shea butter is non-comedogenic, meaning it will not clog pores or cause acne. If you are prone to acne or oiliness, shea butter may actually be able to help by balancing sebum on the skin. It does so by keeping the skin well-hydrated, preventing your skin from producing too much oil which can clog the pores, cause acne, and increase shine. Overall, the use of shea butter is safe and suitable for anyone with blemish-prone skin.
Does Shea Butter Go Bad?
Yes, shea butter can go bad. It has an average shelf life of two years before it expires. However, there are ways to tell if shea butter has gone bad. For instance, if it smells bad, it means it’s starting to go rancid. Always use fresh shea butter to ensure it works its best and avoid any potential side effects such as irritation.
How to Use Shea Butter in Your Skincare Routine
You can use shea butter on its own, but it’s commonly used as an ingredient in skin and haircare products. According to dermatologists, it’s best to use shea butter that’s incorporated into a moisturizer with other ingredients to enhance the hydrating benefits.
You can apply shea butter directly to your skin. Choose raw, unrefined shea butter which is easy to spread. Scoop a teaspoon or so of shea butter from your jar, and massage it into your skin until it’s fully absorbed.
What is shea butter? Shea butter is an incredible skincare ingredient that hydrates, soothes, and nourishes both the skin and hair. Be sure to stock up on our shea butter product recommendations above to start reaping the benefits of this powerhouse emollient.