Shea Butter Is Totally Underrated — But It Has Plenty of Beauty Benefits

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benefits of shea butter
Photo: Courtesy of @aimeesong

In the fast-moving world of skincare, it can be easy to get caught up with new, buzzy ingredients. However, this shouldn’t mean you forget about some of the less cutting-edge, tried-and true-ingredients – which is why we’d like to take a moment to recognize the (very many) beauty benefits of shea butter.

This fat comes from the nuts of shea trees, which are native to West Africa. “Shea butter is a fantastic ingredient to have in skincare, due to its properties,” explains Dr. Preema Vig, medical director of the Dr. Preema London Clinic. This is something beauty mogul Kylie Jenner has picked up on, as she recently released a series of lip balms for Kylie Skin which contain shea butter.

benefits of shea butter
Photo: Courtesy of @hellowglow

Shea butter has long been used in skincare because of its moisturizing powers. “It contains a rich source of fatty acids and antioxidants,” explains Vig, adding that it’s naturally rich in vitamins A, E, and F, which “protect from free radical damage and have the ability to form a barrier on the lips, to lock in moisture”.

If the warm weather is drying your lips, shea butter could be the solution. “It has anti-inflammatory properties that can heal sunburned or cracked lips, and contains a mild SPF to help protect the lips from harmful UV rays,” says Vig.

And it’s not just your lips which can benefit from shea butter, either. Due to its high-fat content, when you apply it to your skin, it’s easily absorbed and can help plump up the skin cells and protect the skin’s barrier from drying out. It can also be used as a soap, and some studies suggest shea butter is an ideal alternative for sufferers of acne, psoriasis, and eczema, who can be allergic to other soaps on the market.

The ultra-moisturizing nature of shea butter means it’s also well used in hair care, where the ingredients can act as a sealant to lock moisture into our locks.

Even though you might be bombarded with new and buzzy skincare ingredients, sometimes it’s worth going back to basics and re-embracing old favorites like shea butter. Either look for products containing shea butter – like Jenner’s new lip balm – or you can easily buy the raw ingredient yourself and make a DIY product.

Our favorite recipe for a super-moisturizing at-home body butter involves just three ingredients: shea butter, coconut oil, and beeswax. Melt 80g of beeswax in a glass bowl over a saucepan of boiling water, add 80g of shea butter and stir with a toothpick, then add 160g of coconut oil, until it’s all melted together. Make sure the mixture doesn’t boil, pour into sterilized jars, and you’ve got a cheap and luscious moisturizer. It’s an easy recipe – just make sure you’re using double the amount of coconut oil as shea butter and beeswax.

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