ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Shea Butter Benefits: Expectations versus Reality

Updated on April 6, 2019
tamarawilhite profile image

Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, an industrial engineer, a mother of two, and a published sci-fi and horror author.


Shea butter is commonly used in skin care products and cosmetics, but relatively few of us understand what it is. The fact that it is touted as a cure for a wide range of conditions leaves us with high expectations versus real shea butter benefits. Let’s address the hype around shea butter before sharing the facts behind these myths and the reality about shea butter.

Shea butter is an ancient herbal remedy from Africa that's become a mainstream beauty product.
Shea butter is an ancient herbal remedy from Africa that's become a mainstream beauty product. | Source

It’s Vegan/All Natural/Clean

Shea butter is a “butter” or fat extracted from the nuts of the African shea treat. It may be called “fat”, but that fat is extracted by crushing and boiling tree nuts. In this regard, it is vegan.
It is all-natural, though you could say the same thing for things you don’t want to put on your body. One of the benefits of shea butter over alternatives is how safe it is. If you’re allergic to dairy, you shouldn’t use soaps and skin creams based on goat’s milk. Almost no one is allergic to shea butter.
Shea butter isn’t necessarily “clean” or unprocessed. It is possible to pick up shea butter cream that was created by exposing it to chemicals to leach out the “butter”. If the “clean” label matters to you, go for cold-pressed shea butter or unrefined shea butter.

It Can Go Anywhere and Everywhere on Your Body

While shea butter is an excellent moisturizer, it probably shouldn’t be applied directly to the face. The molecules in shea butter can enlarge your pores. However, it can generally be applied everywhere else as long as it doesn’t go internally. Yet shea butter is often better than the alternatives. It is milder and less solid than cocoa butter. The end result is a light, easy to spread cream that can be applied to the skin without weighing it down.

Shea Butter Is Edible

Shea fruit is edible. Shea butter in its purest form could be used for cooking like coconut oil. There are candy companies replacing cocoa butter with shea butter. However, the shea butter in your skincare products is not edible. All the other ingredients render it unsafe to eat. Nor should you eat shea butter that isn’t considered food-grade. Even shea butter that is intended for use in cosmetics shouldn’t be eaten, since it may be extracted from the nuts using toxic solvents. However, all shea butter products are better for your skin and the environment than petroleum based products.

Shea Butter Can Treat Anything

Shea butter is a multi-purpose product. It has long been used as skin moisturizer. It’s been used to treat insect bites, poison ivy, stretch marks, age spots, psoriasis and allergic reactions. It is often applied to a growing belly to try to prevent stretch marks in the first place. Others apply shea butter to the skin to soften the skin and try to prevent age marks from forming.

Shea butter contains natural anti-inflammatories, something that explains why it has been used to treat arthritis for years. It has been used as sunscreen and to protect one’s hair from drying out in the sun. It is a traditional remedy for soothing cracked or chapped skin, treating skin ulcers and sealing minor skin injuries. This makes it a natural cuticle cream and a way to ease the chaffed nose brought on by a cold.

The natural skin nourishing compounds plus the moisturizing effect explain why it is touted as a way to prevent wrinkles. In reality, the shea butter will minimize the appearance of wrinkles you already have but won’t prevent new ones from forming.


Shea butter is superior to alternatives like coconut oil and petroleum based skin creams. However, it can’t cure everything or prevent every skin condition. It is simply a great way to minimize the signs of aging and treat skin damage.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Tamara Wilhite


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)