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Shea Butter

Vitellaria paradoxa

What is Shea Butter?

Shea butter is a type of fat that is obtained from the nuts of the shea tree and is solid at warm temperatures, it has a creamy colour. We look at the benefits of shea butter and why it is so deserving as an ingredient in so many of our products.

These trees are typically found in West Africa and it remains the primary source of shea butter. For many centuries, shea butter has been used as an ingredient in cosmetics due to its abundance of vitamins and fatty acids. Its consistency also makes it an ideal product for soothing and conditioning the skin[i].

What makes shea butter so special?

Shea butter is unique due to its chemical composition, which offers numerous benefits for the skin. Its blend of fatty acids, including linoleic, palmitic, stearic, and oleic acids, work together to regulate oil production and balance the skin's natural oil levels.

Along with fatty acids, Shea butter also contains antioxidant vitamins A and E which promote healthy skin cell growth and improve circulation to the skin. The triglyceride fats found in Shea butter nourish and condition the skin, while cetyl esters (another type of fat) help to lock in moisture, creating a protective barrier against potential threats to the skin.

Shea butter may also be combined with other ingredients, such as tea tree oil or lavender oil, to enhance its benefits for the skin.

Where does shea butter come from?

There are very few documented cases of allergic reactions resulting from the topical use of shea butter. Unlike other products, it does not contain the chemical irritants that can dry out the skin or clog the pores, making it suitable for use on almost any skin type.

Shea butter is celebrated for its hydrating properties, which are due to its high concentration of fatty acids like linoleic, oleic, stearic, and palmitic acids. When applied topically, these oils are quickly absorbed into the skin and help to replenish lipids, resulting in rapid moisturisation. By restoring the natural barrier between the skin and the external environment, the moisture is locked in and the risk of dryness is reduced.

What are the benefits of shea butter for skin?

Shea butter is a versatile natural ingredient that offers several benefits for the skin. Its moisturising properties help to improve skin hydration, leaving it feeling soft. The butter's anti-inflammatory properties are also beneficial, as they can soothe a wide range of skin problems, including eczema, psoriasis, and other inflammatory conditions[ii].

Shea butter has high levels of linoleic acid and oleic acid, which balance each other. This means that when you apply shea butter to your skin, it gets absorbed easily and doesn't make your skin look oily.

Shea butter is known to increase collagen production in the skin. This is due to the presence of triterpenes, natural chemical compounds that are believed to inhibit the destruction of collagen fibres. By preventing collagen breakdown, shea butter may help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, resulting in smoother and more youthful-looking skin. Therefore, it is also believed to have the ability to reduce the appearance of stretch marks and scars on the skin. It is thought that shea butter helps to prevent the reproduction of keloid fibroblasts, which are responsible for the formation of scar tissue[iii].

Anti-inflammatory benefits for inflamed skin

Studies have demonstrated that the plant esters present in shea butter possess anti-inflammatory properties, which can benefit the skin when applied topically. Shea butter has the ability to inhibit the production of cytokines and other inflammatory cells, thereby reducing inflammation. This anti-inflammatory effect can help alleviate skin irritation caused by various environmental factors, including dry weather, as well as common inflammatory skin conditions like eczema. As a result, shea butter is a popular ingredient in many skincare products designed to soothe and calm irritated skin[iii].

The anti-inflammatory properties of Shea butter make it an effective solution for soothing the skin and alleviating itching. Those with inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis may find relief from using Shea butter. This is because, in addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, shea butter is quickly absorbed by the skin, meaning that it can provide fast relief for flare-ups. What's more, research studies have suggested that Shea butter may be as effective in treating eczema as medicated creams. This makes Shea butter a promising natural remedy for people seeking relief from inflammatory skin conditions[iv].

Recommended For

Stretch Marks , Scarring , Dry Skin , Inflammation , Psoriasis , Eczema

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