Most people are familiar with shea butter – at least in name – if they have ever browsed rows of moisturizers in the store. Several of the richest, most trustworthy face creams include it in their ingredients list. Why does shea butter do what it does for your skin?
Let’s talk first about where it comes from: shea nuts come from sub-Saharan African trees. A traditional treatment for ailments such as ulcers, nasal congestion and skin problems was part of the shea tree’s anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Although most of the Shea butter for skin comes from this region, it’s increasingly prized for its proven skin-care benefits.
The following are five of the biggest skin benefits of shea butter.
- Increases skin hydration
In addition to its use in many face moisturizers and body lotions, shea butter has many other benefits. Skin is softened and hydrated through its use as an emollient. Besides improving the skin’s natural barrier due to its fatty acids, shea butter also protects it against damage from pollutants in the environment thanks to a variety of fatty acids.
- The anti-inflammatory property soothes skin problems
Shea butter contains anti-inflammatory compounds, which make it an ideal balm for soothing and nourishing upset skin, according to research in the Journal of Oleo Science.
The Hong Kong Medical Journal reports that it is frequently used in products that help heal inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema, as well as treatments for sunburns. Additionally, shea butter is believed to offer a mild sun protection benefit – though it is not strong enough to carry the place of sunscreen. In spite of this, you may notice that shea butter adds moisture to your sun-protective products.
3. Cuts and scrapes could be healed with it
Scar-healing products are often formulated with this ingredient because it contains high levels of fatty acids that soften scar tissue and may aid in the healing process. A study published in the journal Wounds found it was particularly effective for preventing keloid scarring – the kind of red, raised and rubbery scar that develops after injury. This is likely also due to the emollient properties of shea butter, as with many other known shea butter benefits.
4. Defends against breakouts
Acne sufferers can also benefit from shea butter. Shea butter is beneficial for oily skin, but what is it good for?
As we learned earlier, acne-prone skin produces too much sebum when it’s dry, clogging the pores as a result; shea butter prevents this cycle from occurring by preventing skin from drying out. You needn’t worry about shea butter causing oily skin – there are no studies that confirm this! According to the Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology, there is some evidence that the bark of shea trees is antibacterial, which could translate into acne-fighting abilities of shea butter. The results are not bad for a single ingredient!
5. It is possible that antioxidants have anti-aging effects
It is also reported that shea butter contains several antioxidants, including vitamins A and E, as well as many of the same compounds in green tea – an antioxidant powerhouse. Antioxidants (especially vitamin A) are known to prevent free radical damage to the skin when applied topically. More research is needed to determine whether shea butter is an anti-aging ingredient.
You can use shea butter as part of your skincare routine just as you can use butter in your recipes.