When it comes to hair products, word of mouth does not do it for me, I need to see for myself. So years ago when I heard that there was actually a hair product that was so versatile you could use it on your skin and in your kitchen, I began to do a little research and stumbled upon a surprise. I like to call it “the super hero to fight hair injustices all over the world”, but it’s more commonly referred?to as shea butter.
Shea butter is a unique blend of the emollients/fatty acids (palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic, arachidic) extracted from the nut of?African Shea trees (Vitellaria Paradoxa, Shea Karite, Mangifolia).?While some women with curly hair swear by it, others are not quite sure how to make good use of it. The best option when it comes to shea butter is unrefined as it’s in its purest form. The yellow tint of unrefined shea butter is due to the Vitamin A it contains. Remove this color (refined), and the beneficial vitamins have also been removed. At first glance, it can be quite intimidating with its thick texture, weight and density. Here a few easy ways to use shea butter to moisturize your hair and make it work for your curls.
SOFTEN AND SEAL IN MOISTURE
Shea butter’s moisturizing enhancing properties are unmatched which is essential when caring for your curly?tresses. Technically, shea butter can’t moisturize hair–only water can do that and possibly some oils (there is debate about the validity of which ones–with oilive and coconut being the top two), but it can help to moisturize your hair by sealing in moisture. (Be sure to read How Do You Moisturize Naturally Curly And Very Dry Hair? for a refresher course in how moisture works)?It?s smooth and rich formula lends itself to baby soft curls and compliant and pliable?coils. Maintaining moisture in your hair is largely depending on locking the water from your shampoo session in. Shea butter does an awesome job at sealing in water/moisture?without leaving behind residue. It?s also really great for sealing the ends of your hair or it can be used on the entire strand for supreme coverage.
Raw shea butter we recommend for hair (these are shea butters with no other additives):
Nourish Organic Raw Shea Butter Intensely Moisturizing
L?Occitane Organic Pure Shea Butter
Now Solutions Certified Organic Shea Butter
Molivera Organics Raw African Organic Grade A Ivory Shea Butter for Natural Skin Care
Life-Flo Organic Pure Shea Butter
Alaffia Certified Fair Trade Shea Butter
Shea butter-based products we recommend:
Almost all of Shea Moisture’s products are really great, however, of the entire line, these are the standouts and worth your money. Trust us on this:
Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow & Restore Leave-In (Everything in a jar. Everything)
Shea Moisture Superfruit Complex 10-in-1 Renewal System Hair Masque
Shea Moisture Yucca & Plantain Anti-Breakage Strengthening Masque
OGX Curl Enhancing Yogurt, Smooth Hydration Argan Oil & Shea Butter
Alaffia Coconut & Shea Daily Hydrating Shampoo
Alaffia Shea & Honey Nourishing Shampoo
Beautiful Curls Curl Activating Shea Butter
WHIP SHAE BUTTER FOR A SOFTER CEREAM
There is no denying that shea butter is thick and for some, melting raw shea butter in your hands and applying it to hair just does not cut it but there is an alternative. Shea butter used in conjunction with coconut or olive oil makes a unique blend of goodness. It adds star like quality shine and aids in easy distribution. Since shea butter melts at body temperature and absorbs rapidly into your skin. Rubbing the product between your fingers breaks it down into oil form. We like this recipe for some whipped goodness.
SOOTHE YOUR SCALP AND FACE WITH SHEA BUTTER
Shea butter absorbs readily into the scalp and does not clog pores. Because of this, it’s great to use as a soothing treatment for dandruff and dry scalp. Whip it with some tea-tree oil, peppermint and lavender to make your own batch of scalp ointment that’s both therapeutic and effective.
You can also use shea butter in the winter for heavier night time moisturizer or even use a tiny amount as a facial moisturizer if you have dry skin.
Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow & Restorative Hair Serum is a great scalp oil.
HEAT AND SUN PROTECTANT
Shea butter can act as low but effective SPF barrier between your curly strands and any heat element from your curling iron to the sun. Since it emulsifies quickly, and if you don’t use too much, there is no residue left on your hair and it melts into your hair quickly and effectively.
SUPPORT WOMEN AND FAMILIES WITH YOUR PURCHASE
Because most shea butter is handmade in African countries by women working to support their families, we recommend unrefined, 100% organic, Fair Trade shea butter. Our favorite go-to brand? Alaffia Certified Fair Trade Shea Butter. “Fair Trade is a movement of individuals and organizations working to ensure that producers in poor countries receive a greater percentage of the price paid by consumers.”* Fair Trade ensures that employees receive the minimum wage and collective bargaining and also ensures that there is no forced or child labor and that the women work in a healthy and safety environment. We believe if you are going to pick up a jar of this goodness, that you do good while you’re at it.
The list of benefits of shea butter goes on and on. If you?re religious, be ready to sing praises.?If you?re a social butterfly, then prepare to tell a friend. Just learning of the labor of love that?s?put into its production makes it at least worth a try.