Shea Butter For The (Skincare) Win

I had chronically, tragically dry skin as a kid. It never mattered how much lotion I would slather on, by the time mid-day rolled around I looked like a chimney sweep. And, oh did the kids in school let me know it! I’m still on my way to healing from the trauma of looking like no one loved me enough to grease up my elbows, but today my woes when it comes to dry skin have been remedied thanks to shea butter!

Chances are you’ve heard of this stuff whether it be in connection to hair routines or moisture, as everyone seems to be enamored with the butter – and for good reason. Shea butter can be whipped and mixed with other oils to produce delectable concoctions which lock in moisture and rejuvenate the skin. I personally love to mix shea butter with warm coconut oil, and a few drops of one of my favorite essential oils and apply it all over before bed. In the morning, it’s like I have a new layer of ash-free skin. It seems like this miracle cream is too good to be true, but with a little investigation I’ve discovered it’s the real deal. Let’s dive in!

History

Shea butter hails from across the West African coast, along the Saraha and into Eastern Africa. The shea tree that the compound is derived from thrives within the dry climate. According to the Journal of Ethnobiologyshea butter has been created from the harvested nuts of the shea tree starting as far back as 100 B.C.E. During the excavation of a site in Burkina Faso in West Africa, a team of archaeologists discovered shells from the shea nut, and realized the practice of making the butter predates the previous belief that it began in 1100 C.E. That’s a long time to perfect the art of shea butter! The process is still carried out quite similarly to the past, and includes the aid of the entire household.

How is it made?

The process is very time-intensive and requires the involvement of the entire household, or a team. In this lovely video from Hamamat, you can watch the different stages of extracting, cooking, and forming shea butter from the nuts of the shea tree by the people who know it best. It’s quite interesting!

 

What does it do?

If you’re struggling with dry skin like I do, shea butter is a great alternative to traditional lotions or oils. It locks in moisture, softens rough patches, and I have experienced it clear up irritated spots. She butter can be applied to the skin of the body, your hair and face to fight dryness as well as the weakening of hair shafts. I do warn that it does not easily wash out of hair, so if you have dreadlocks like me it’s not a good option for the hair. In loose hair it works wonders. What’s great about the product is how long it can last. A little goes a long way, so you could potentially keep a jar of it for months to years without it spoiling.

 

There you have it! Have you tried shea butter? What oils or butters do you use to take care of your skin? Let me know in the comments!


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