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What Is Shea Butter? What Are Its Benefits? Why It's Great for Your Face
What is Shea Butter?
Before discussing the value of shea butter, we need to know where it comes from. Shea butter is derived from the fruit of shea nuts which grow on trees. The shea nut tree grows slowly and takes years to mature. The value of the fruit has been no secret to those living in western or central Africa where the trees grow wild. Noteworthy, it can take 30 to 50 years for these trees to mature. Today, it has commercial value in many skin products. It is an ingredient I have used everyday for the past 15 years.
The proper name for the tree the shea nuts grow on is called the Karite tree and it produces the nut that contains what we call shea butter. Inside the nut is pulp that is cream or yellow in color and it is no easy task to obtain this pulp because aside from extracting the pulp, it has to dry and go through a kneeding process. This pulp which is essentially the butter has natural properties that is very beneficial. The fatty content of the butter is manufactured in shampoos, soaps, anti-aging creams and lotions. When shea butter is applied to skin, it is easily absorbed.
What Are the Benefits of Shea Butter?
Shea butter contains Vitamins A and E, elements that rejuvenate the skin. It can promote skin healing and can slow down the effects of skin aging. It is also supposed to help hair that has gone brittle or help rehydrate a dry scalp. This organic substance doesn't seem to even be strong enough to create an allergic reaction to any high level. With skin application, it contains cinnamic acid which gives protection from the sun's UV rays.
Shea butter has been used for what might seem like forever in Africa, especially in areas where the sun can be damaging to the skin. There are substances in the butter that have been defined as bioactive, which means it affects living tissue or a living organism. The butter also contains antioxidants and lupeol, the latter of which plays a role with the enzymes that promote skin aging. Shea butter also stimulates production of protein.
There are both cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies focused on this butter to build upon its valuable uses. Essential oils and other herbal plants work well in a base of shea butter. It is easily smoothed on the skin. Unlike soap, the butter doesn’t interfere with your natural skin oils. I highly recommend products that are rich with shea butter.
Note: Shea butter is not recommended for those experiencing nut or latex allergies.
I've been using shea butter on my face for 15 years and swear by its benefits. I have heard comments like, "I hope my skin looks like yours when I reach your age," or "I can't believe you're that old, how come you don't have any wrinkles?" Part of the answer to that question might rest in the fact that I am in parts Asian and Native American, with a pinch of Irish. That being shared, however, I also take care of my skin. The best shea butter product I initially found and continue to use is found at one of the most popular bath product stores. The product I use is geared towards hands and feet and once I saw the results in how it repaired very dry skin, I started using it everywhere I had dry skin. I also do not practice using soap on my face. I use a hot washcloth twice a day to basically steam my face. I feel soap dries your skin, and I don't want the skin on my face to be damaged and I am particular on what touches my facial skin. Also, shea butter is not gender specific. At best, what I can attest to regardless of my cultural background is the fact of belief in this natural product's behavior in promoting healthier skin.