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Shea butter: a fantastic natural product for skin and hair

The women most connected to beauty have certainly used, or at least seen on sale, a product containing shea butter. A shampoo, a conditioner, a body or face cream, among other body care products.

This is because, due to the proven benefits it can offer to the skin and hair, shea butter is present in the formulas of several cosmetics sold in Brazil and worldwide.

If you still don’t know or have heard about shea butter, but you have doubts about how it works, you’ll love to know a little more about this type of natural fat that can be very useful in your daily beauty care!

What is Shea Butter?

Shea butter is extracted from a nut, which grows on a tree unique to the African continent, more precisely to its western region: Butyrospermum parkii.

The fruit is not picked and not even the tree is shaken or cut. The ripe fruit is collected only when it falls to the ground (since the hanging ones are not yet ripe enough to make butter). For this, the tree needs to reach about 15 years of age, which is when it starts to bear fruit, and the average production is around 15 to 20 kilos of fresh fruit per tree each season.

After being harvested and ground, the nut is transformed into shea butter – one of the most valuable vegetable fats in the world, with very high quality and which, of course, is present in the most varied cosmetic formulas sold worldwide.

The main benefits of shea butter

Shea butter has several properties that make it a very interesting active ingredient for cosmetic use, according to Flávia de Oliveira José , pharmacist at Doce Flora, professor of Cosmetology and coordinator of the technical course in Pharmacy at Esaup (Escola da Saúde de Piracicaba). ).

Flávia explains that, due to the high degree of emollience (softness), this product gives the body a pleasant touch. “However, it does not have a greasy and glossy effect – essential in any line of cosmetic products, both for hair and skin”, he says.

The pharmaceutical adds that shea butter relieves the feeling of dryness of the skin, helping to maintain its natural hydration. It is widely used in cosmetics for very dry and sensitive skin. “It provides a velvety and smoothing sensation on the skin and an additional photoprotective spectrum in the ultraviolet range”, he says. That is, especially when used pure, it also acts as a “natural sunscreen”, being a great ally both in the intense heat months and in the winter months.

Flávia adds that, due to its softening action, shea butter can be used as a preventive for stretch marks.

It is also usually very suitable for dry, weak or brittle hair, as it is an effective and totally natural revitalizing agent, which offers shine, flexibility and softness, in addition to protecting it against solar radiation.

How to use butter in the pure version or in products

Below you can see the main guidelines on how to use shea butter:

In the face

Flávia explains that shea butter can be applied to the face in its pure version or through formulations, such as lipsticks and creams, that contain it. “For its moisturizing action and for protecting against UV rays, it can be used both day and night,” he says.

Butter can also be applied, in its pure version, directly to the lips, to moisturize them.

Those with oily skin, however, should be careful when applying shea butter directly to their face. The best way is always to follow a dermatologist’s guidelines on which products you can and cannot use in this case.

On body

Shea butter can be used on the most varied parts of the body, from nails (so they are more hydrated and strong), such as arms, feet, legs. “It can also be used in specific compositions for each area of ​​the body”, comments Flávia.

The pharmacist adds that shea butter can be used day or night. “Its composition of fatty acids is similar to the composition of skin fat – which makes it a product that does not cause sensitivity reactions and allows its use in all parts of the body, promoting intense hydration and a smooth and velvety touch”, it says.

To moisturize and soften the skin, using pure shea butter, there is no secret: place a little butter in the palm of your hand, rub with your fingers and apply directly to the skin, massaging gently.

in the hair

Flávia points out that there are scientific studies that prove the action of shea butter on hair strands. “The lipid components (fat) of butter provide the hair fiber with shine, softness and silkiness, as they return to the hair fiber the lipid constituents lost during the daily hair treatment steps and cover the thread, reducing the friction between them”, he explains. .

“Studies indicate the use of butter in conditioners, used after shampooing exactly to recover the strands”, he adds.

Another possibility is to use pure shea butter directly on the strands. Here are three suggestions for how to do this:

  • Wash your hair, remove excess water with a towel and apply shea butter (avoiding the root). Put on a shower cap and let it act for about 30 minutes. Then just rinse the hair with plenty of lukewarm water.
  • Put some of the shea butter in your hands, spreading it out evenly. Then apply on dry and unwashed strands, especially on the driest ends and parts. Leave as long as you can (want) and then wash as usual.
  • Apply a little butter on your hair before going to bed and, when you wake up, wash it completely (so that the strands don’t get oily).

Can shea butter be used in pregnancy?

Flávia explains that, as it is a natural product, shea butter can be used by pregnant women. “You just have to be careful with the other components in the case of shea-based creams and lotions, or else, give preference to pure butter”, she says.

The super positive side of using shea butter during pregnancy, as Flávia explains, is that its moisturizing and emollient (softness) properties allow the skin to have greater elasticity, preventing stretch marks.

“It is worth remembering that it is always recommended to consult the opinion of the doctor who is doing the monitoring at this stage”, adds the pharmacist.

Is it possible to manipulate this vegetable fat?

Shea butter is a product available for manipulation and, as Flávia explains, because it is a cosmetic, it is available over the counter. “Anyone can go to a pharmacy and ask for a shea-based product and the pharmacist can advise them on other products added to the formula for better results,” she says.

In handling, explains Flávia, they can be made with shea butter:

  • Lipstick;
  • Conditioner;
  • Body cream;
  • Hand cream;
  • Foot cream etc.

“The interesting thing about manipulating is customizing the formula for each person. In this way, we are often able to meet the needs of each one in a single product, thus facilitating its use and providing a lower cost”, highlights Flávia.

The pharmaceutical adds that pure shea butter is also more accessible in handling (it has a more affordable price). “Furthermore, you can be sure that it is a 100% pure product,” she says.

Homemade recipes with shea butter

Some people risk buying pure shea butter and mixing it with other products, thus making “homemade recipes”. On the internet, you can find, for example, suggestions for homemade hair masks made with shea or even body creams, etc.

Check out some examples below:

1. Treatment cream + shea butter: 1 teaspoon of shea butter + 2 tablespoons of corn starch + 1 glass of whole milk + 1 tablespoon of olive oil + 1 tablespoon of ) of honey + 2 tablespoons of treatment cream. Bring the starch and milk to the fire until it thickens. Add the shea butter and let it dissolve completely. Remove from heat and add the oil, honey and cream.

2. Shea Butter Hair Cream: 1 cup coconut oil + ½ cup shea butter + ½ cup grape seed oil. In a bowl combine the ingredients. Place the mixture in the microwave for 30 seconds until well melted. Place the bowl in a larger container with water and ice cubes and blend until the texture changes to something creamier.

3. Homemade Shea Butter Body Cream: 1 cup of shea butter + 1 cup of cocoa butter + 1/2 cup of coconut oil + 1 tablespoon of orange essential oil. Melt the shea butter, cocoa butter and coconut oil. Mix these ingredients well and place the mixture in the fridge until it starts to take shape again. Add the essential oil, beating (with an electric mixer) and then place in a closed glass container. Store at room temperature.

However, Flávia points out that she does not recommend that this type of product be made with shea butter. “As a pharmacist, I do not recommend homemade recipes. Because when we mix several ready-made products, we can cause incompatibilities or unexpected chemical reactions and the products formed by these reactions can be toxic and harmful to health, in addition to compromising the expected result”, he says.

“What I can recommend is the use of pure organic shea butter directly on the skin, being all over the body, lips, feet and hands in case of extremely dry or sensitive skin. And hair mask, however, always remembering not to add anything to it”, highlights pharmacist Flávia.

19 products with shea butter

In the gallery below you can find suggestions on where to buy cosmetics that have shea butter in their formulation and also pure butter:

Contraindications

Flávia points out that there are no contraindications for shea butter in the literature. “The contraindication can come in products where the composition is not just shea butter”, he adds.

The pharmacist draws attention, however, to some basic precautions:

  • Shea butter should not be ingested;
  • It should never be applied to the eyes;
  • It is necessary to avoid use on injured skin.

Now that you know the benefits of this gem of nature! How about including this fantastic natural product in your daily beauty treatment?! But remember: if in doubt, always talk to your dermatologist.

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