What Does Shea Butter Do for Your Skin?

Reviewed on 3/19/2021
Shea butter is fat extracted from the nuts of the shea tree.
Shea butter is fat extracted from the nuts of the shea tree.

Shea butter is fat extracted from the nuts of the shea tree. It has been used cosmetically for centuries because it is great at softening skin. Shea butter has a high concentration of vitamins and fatty acids. Naturally rich in skin-optimizing vitamins, A, E, and F, it is a vitamin-packed skin savior.

Anti-aging properties:

  • One of the benefits of shea butter is that it makes skin appear younger.
  • Shea butter contains enough vitamin A, which is good for the skin.
  • It eliminates wrinkles and makes the skin look firm.
  • In addition, shea butter helps to boost the production of collagen, 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.

Healing properties:

  • Shea butter can heal scars, bruises, and burns.
  • Besides, skin blemishes often leave dark patches after causing skin redness. Such blemishes can destroy the evenness of the skin tone.
  • The healing properties of shea butter can help prevent skin issues, such as rashes, dermatitis, and eczema.
  • Research shows that it has anti-fungal properties. It can help fight fungus on the skin, predominantly ringworm and athlete’s foot.
  • Shea butter has anti-bacterial properties as well; it can help with acne or prevent its occurrence. The fatty composition of shea butter allows it to sink in and balance out the skin’s natural oil composition. This allows the skin to relax by stopping the overproduction of sebum.

Protects the skin:

  • Shea butter helps protect the skin.
  • It contains natural skin-protective substances, such as cinnamic acid. 
  • This natural sunscreen helps to protect the skin against sunburn and ultraviolet (UV) rays.
  • Furthermore, shea butter can help minimize skin peeling, soothe sunburn, and moisturize the skin.

Prevents skin irritation:

  • Shea butter can help prevent skin irritation.
  • It contains mostly natural substances suitable for both adults and children. Applying shea butter can help relieve itching due to skin dryness.
  • Raw shea butter has benefits for treating dandruff and an itchy scalp. Its anti-inflammatory and hydrating properties soothe an irritated scalp and relieve itchiness.

Reduce stretch marks:

  • Shea butter can help reduce stretch marks on the skin.
  • Raw shea butter contains vitamin A, which has hydrating qualities and amazing healing properties.
  • This helps in reducing the appearance of stretch marks and scarring, particularly on darker skin.

Moisturizing and nourishing:

  • The concentration of natural vitamins and fatty acids in shea butter helps moisturize and nourish the skin.
  • Its high fat content makes it an excellent natural emollient and humectant, locking in moisture and keeping skin hydrated.
  • It ensures that the skin’s natural oils are preserved. This means good and smooth skin.
  • It heals chapped and dry lips fast. It supplies lips with extra nutrients and the lightweight texture does not feel greasy or sticky at all, hence it makes for an especially effective lip balm for the cold, winter months.

Soothing properties:

  • Shea butter could also soothe mild sunburns, bee stings, insect bites, and muscle soreness.
  • Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, shea butter can alleviate some inflammation and pain in those cases.

What ingredients are present in shea butter?

Shea butter is a source of the below ingredients:

Linoleic acid:

  • Our body cannot produce linoleic acid so we must get it either topically or through diet.
  • It helps to strengthen the skin's barrier, so it can retain moisture and keep out irritants.

Stearic acid:

  • It is a type of fatty acid that helps oil and water to combine. This helps remove dirt and excess sebum from the skin and hair.

Palmitic acid: 

  • This fatty acid is generally used as an emollient or moisturizer, it can soften skin and boost skin water retention.

Oleic acid:

  • This fatty acid is fantastic for treating aged or dry skin. It can deeply penetrate the skin and replenish lost moisture preventing further moisture loss.
  • It can restore skin's natural oils, without clogging pores that can lead to breakouts.

Cetyl esters:

  • This waxy part of shea butter locks in skin moisture and conditions the skin.

Triglycerides:

  • This is an excellent skin-replenishing and emollient ingredient, which moisturizes the skin.

Vitamin A:

  • Benefits may include even skin complexion, fight infection, boost skin cell turnover, protect against UV damage.
  • It slows signs of aging and reduces the existing signs of aging skin, including wrinkles.

Vitamin E:

  • It is a powerful antioxidant, helps in combating the signs of aging and reducing the damage caused to skin by UV light and free radicals.

Vitamin F:

It makes it great at strengthening the skin barrier. Vitamin F converts to ceramide when applied to the skin, which is a key ingredient for keeping the foremost barrier of the skin healthy and moisturized.

There are no documented allergic reactions to shea butter when used topically. Even those with tree nut allergies can use it safely. However, if you do experience skin irritation or an allergic reaction, wash off the shea butter and discontinue its use. Some have found that using shea butter helps prevent acne, but it can clog pores and promote acne for others who are prone to breakouts.

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References
WebMD. Shea Butter. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1512/shea-butter

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