One of the most multi-tasking ingredients on the beauty block, shea butter soothes dry and sensitive skin, hydrates a flaky scalp and frizzy hair, boosts collagen production, helps minimise stretch marks and overall helps to maintain a healthy skin barrier. These are some proven shea butter benefits that make it such a powerful addition in your beauty cabinet.
If you need more convincing to add this moisturising marvel to your skincare routine, we’ve got all the intel you need to know about shea butter and its benefits.
What is shea butter?
Shea butter is a fat that’s extracted from the kernels of a shea tree originating in Eastern and Western Africa. Up to this day, most shea butter is sourced from the region.
While you might see shea butter in almost every label of beauty and skincare products these days, it has been used in the cosmetic industry for centuries, dating back as early as Queen Cleopatra’s reign. Indeed, it was recorded that she always kept a jar of it at hand.
“Shea butter has high concentrations of fatty acids and vitamins that make it such a great cosmetic ingredient for softening and soothing the skin. It has anti-inflammatory and healing properties, and has been reported to have anti-ageing properties,” UK-based Advanced Aesthetic Practitioner, Dr Pamela Benito, tells Beauty Daily.
Who’s most likely to benefit from the uses of shea butter?
Shea butter is an excellent moisturising agent for the skin. It doesn’t contain chemical irritants known to dry out the skin, so it’s safe and recommended for almost any skin type. However, it’s particularly good for those with dry skin, as Charlotte McHale, Clarins Training Manager, explains. “Clarins create moisturisers for all skin types but what makes the difference between the formulas for dry skin and the rest is the addition of shea butter. It’s quite like cocoa butter in the sense that it has got a high amount of lipids. So it’s nourishing, good for skin barrier repair, and recommended for people with the driest of skin types. Shea butter is added to improve and enrich the nourishing quality of a formula.”
Shea butter also has calming properties that help bring about relief from flare-ups, tame redness and swelling on the skin – plus it’s suitable for those with sensitivity and allergic reactions are rare.
However, those with oily skin should proceed with caution. “Shea butter can be beneficial to oily skin as some oils are actually good for oily skin,” Dr Benito notes. “However, pure shea butter on your face may lead to acne and breakouts.”
Even though shea butter is said to be non-comedogenic (i.e. it doesn’t clog the pores), The American Academy of Dermatology advises people prone to acne and breakouts to stay away from the ingredient as it may lead to unwanted blemishes.
Shea butter benefits for skin
Here are six shea butter benefits you need to know, plus skin specialist approved shea butter skincare and shea butter hair care products to add to your routine asap.
1. It boosts hydration and is ultra moisturising
“The rich tree-nut oil in shea butter can soak into your skin creating a smooth and soft barrier that seals in moisture, working as an emollient,” says Dr Benito.
Worried it might leave an icky feeling on the skin? Shea butter is fast absorbing and is not super greasy at all – instead, it provides a skin-softening and soothing effect.
For overall body moisture top ups, Beauty Daily recommends shea butter-infused Moisture-Rich Body Lotion, £35.
This rich, silky smooth lotion gives your skin all the love and ultimate comfort boosting hydration of even the driest skin. It is enriched with a high concentration of shea butter and a blend of organic plant extracts.
Add to cart: Moisture-Rich Body Lotion, £35.
2. Soothes cracked heels
If you are suffering from dry, cracked heels, look no further: shea butter is your best friend. It’s a rich, luscious emollient that can help to heal compromised and cracked skin due to the vitamins A, E, and F it contains.
Multiple studies have shown that shea butter has anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce the redness of dry and cracked feet. Shea butter is also beneficial for treating itchiness and eliminating walking discomfort.
Experts say the best way to prevent cracked and compromised heels from forming on your feet is to moisturise them regularly. Cocoon your feet in a foot cream with this Foot Beauty Treatment Cream, £26.
It is enriched with shea butter but also with antifungal arnica extract and virgin cashew nut oil, which all work to renew and protect from ankle to toe without the need for medical solutions, unless severe health problems arise. This foot cream relieves swelling and fatigue. And thanks to myrrh, it also strengthens and beautifies nails.
Add to cart: Foot Beauty Treatment Cream, £26.
Read next: Easy Ways To Get Rid Of Dead Skin From Your Feet
3. Tames and calms redness
“Shea butter is ideal for dry skin types and might help reduce skin swelling in conditions such as eczema,” Dr Benito says.
People with eczema could benefit from the richness of shea butter. It is proven to have efficient anti-inflammatory properties, which help calm down any dryness, redness, or flakiness on people with sensitive and weakened skin.
Soap-free cleansers and topical emollients are the mainstay treatment for people with sensitive skin.
Beauty Daily highly recommends Soothing Gentle Foaming Cleanser, £23. This creamy, rinse-off, foaming facial cleanser is made for people with very dry or sensitive skin.It is formulated with soothing organic chamomile and shea butter leaving skin feeling soft, smooth, and incredibly comfortable.
Add to cart: Soothing Gentle Foaming Cleanser, £23.
4. Boosts collagen production
Shea butter is also known for its anti-ageing qualities. Shea butter is reported to aid in tissue cell regeneration and has been shown to boost collagen production, which plays a role in firming the skin. It is loaded with vitamin F (a mixture of two essential fatty acids), which keeps the skin hydrated and soft, thus maintaining its elasticity.
You can boost your skin collagen two ways with the Super Restorative Night Cream – Very Dry Skin, £81.00.
It’s supercharged with organic harungana, Madagascar’s traditional medicinal plant, which is as effective as retinol in the synthesis of collagen and shea butter, providing lasting nourishment and anti-aging benefits to the skin.
Add to cart:Super Restorative Night Cream – Very Dry Skin, £81.
Read next: Everything You Need To Boost Your Collagen
5. Helps minimise stretch mark appearance
Do you want to minimise and reduce the appearance of stretch marks? Super shea butter can help. It is effective at calming the redness of fresh stretch marks.
Experts say the antioxidant activity of shea butter can help strengthen the skin barrier and minimise redness and inflammation.
Read next:Do Stretchmarks Go Away? Here’s What Experts Say
6. Hydrates flaky scalp and frizzy hair
A healthy scalp and shiny hair is what we all covet and shea butter is also great in this respect. Its anti-inflammatory properties reduce dryness and treat potential scalp damage at the same time.
Beauty Daily recommends Clarins online exclusive Nourishing Strengthening Hair Mask, £31. This scented mask is perfect for dry or damaged hair. Its formula is enriched with organic shea butter and organic argan oil, known for their nourishing properties, to help strengthen the scalp and intensely nourish the hair fibre.
Gently massage into clean rinsed hair (scalp, lengths, and ends). Massaging shea butter into your scalp and hair is a wonderful way to retain or replace natural oils without stripping the ones on your hair and head. Leave on for 5-10 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.
Add to cart: Nourishing Strengthening Hair Mask, £31
“Clarins is a member of the Global Shea Alliance (GSA). We really care about where we source shea butter from,” McHale notes. “GSA promotes the sustainability of the shea industry, as well as improving the livelihoods of the rural communities who harvest it.”
For your next read, learn Why Niacinamide Deserves A Spot In Your Beauty Cupboard