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What Is Shea Butter? What Are Its Benefits? Why It's Great for Your Face

Updated on May 11, 2013
The Karite tree that produces the shea nut fruit.
The Karite tree that produces the shea nut fruit.
Fruit from the Karite tree that is the shea nut.
Fruit from the Karite tree that is the shea nut.

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.

Shea Butter and Nuts
Shea Butter and Nuts | Source

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.

Don't let the signs of dry skin go untreated.
Don't let the signs of dry skin go untreated. | Source

Personal Experience

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.


Submit a Comment
  • ytsenoh profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

    rajan, thanks very much for the visit. I love shea butter in most products.

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 

    6 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

    Excellent and very useful information that will benefit many people.

    Voted up and useful.

  • ytsenoh profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

    Thank you for stopping by! Shea butter is awesome! Have a great weekend.

  • Express10 profile image

    H C Palting 

    6 years ago from East Coast

    Shea butter is very soothing for dry skin. This is a very detailed and useful hub. Thanks for sharing.

  • DDE profile image

    Devika Primić 

    6 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    Fantastic! Shea Butter is such a wonder for the skin and is so nice to have the benefits are awesome and the way you explained it, is just to perfection.

  • ytsenoh profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

    bridalletter, thanks for stopping in. I really should have a photo taken that's current. I don't know if I have one that's 15 years old. I usually do all the picture taking and generally don't like to have my photo taken. When I do, though, I will post it and divulge my age. Keep in mind, too, that culture plays a role in good skin too. I think when we neglect our skin, be it our face, hands or even feet, we simply make room for regret later for not having taken better care of our skin. Likewise, too, with exercise and eating right. We have the power to do some of the things we need or ought to do to help promote longevity. Best regards and have a great week!

  • bridalletter profile image

    Brenda Kyle 

    6 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

    Wonderful to hear how well it works. Can we see a picture of you 15 years ago and one current? This sounds more affordable than other facial skin care products. Thank you for sharing your personal experience.

  • ytsenoh profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

    Nell, thanks very much. Hope all is great in the UK! I love how the skin absorbs the butters in slow motion. You cannot go wrong with either butter. Have a fabulous week!

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 

    6 years ago from England

    I have shea butter in some of my face products and yes its great! love the way it smooths my face, and it doesn't evaporate as quickly as other creams, great hub, nell

  • ytsenoh profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

    Ah, Suzie, thanks and yes. My great-great-grandmother, Henrietta McDaniel, would be where I get the parts of my Irish soul, no doubt! Have a great week. Blow a kiss to the Irish grounds for me!

  • Suzie HQ profile image

    Suzanne Ridgeway 

    6 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

    Hi ytsenoh,

    This hub intrigued me considering your comment you left plus my total agreement with you of it's benefits to the skin. Great article I will link in to a few of my ones if that is okay? Many thanks for an interesting read on this wonder product from nature. You are obviously a walking advert of great skin! Must be the Irish in you! LOL

  • ytsenoh profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

    wwolfs, thanks very much for reading and leaving your kind comment.

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Shea Butter is another great natural product. You did a good job on explaining where it comes from and the many benefits.

    Voted up and useful!

  • ytsenoh profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

    Stessily, thanks very much for your comment.

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    ytsenoh, Shea butter is fantastic. When I first heard of it a while back through an article on model Christie Brinkley, I had difficulty locating the product. It's worth the struggle to find.

    Well done.

  • ytsenoh profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

    princess, thanks very much for your comment. I really enjoyed learning about the origin of shea butter and I completely prescribe to its benefits and have for years. Glad you enjoyed the read!

  • princesswithapen profile image


    7 years ago

    Shea Butter, as an ingredient is used in beauty and cosmetic products left, right and center. There is heaps of information on the web that talks about the benefits of Shea Butter. But your hub is one of the few that goes into explaining what it is, where it comes from and what it contains. Nicely done!



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