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Shea Butter - Beyond the Benefits

September 12, 2018

Today almost everyone has heard of or used a skincare product with natural ingredients. What many people don't know about the natural bath and beauty products they use are the benefits of the ingredients. One ingredient in particular is shea butter. Do you know where it comes from or the benefits it offers? 

The shea tree or Vitellaria paradoxa (formerly Butyrospermum parkii) is indigenous to Africa and produces shea fruit. An oil-rich seed from which shea butter is extracted and has been used for centuries. Shea fruit is first produced when the trees are between 10 to 15 years old with full production attained at 20 to 30 years, and the tree may produce fruit for up to 200 years.

Mungo Park learned of the tree while exploring Senegal in the 18th century. The name in genus Butyrospermum means butter seed and parkii honored the Scottish explorer. 

Shea butter has 5 principal fatty acids - palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic, and arachidic with oleic and linoleic making up about 85% to 90% of the total fatty acids. Stearic gives a solid consistency to the butter and oleic influences how soft or hard the shea butter is depending on temperature. It's interesting to note that based on the regions where the shea fruit is harvested, the proportions of stearic and oleic may differ.

The phenolic compounds in shea butter are known to have antioxidant properties which help fight inflammation containing substances in the body known as free radicals. Shea butter contains natural antioxidants including vitamin A, F, catechins (also found in green tea), and tocopherol (vitamin E) at very high levels. Nutrients found in vitamin A and F are useful in healing the skin and treating conditions such as dermatitis and eczema, and combating signs of premature aging. Vitamin A also promotes the regeneration of cells, effectively soothing and nourishing dry skin, keeping it hydrated while vitamin E improves microcirculation and slows the aging process. 

In it's raw, unrefined form, shea butter stimulates natural collagen production to keep skin nourished, supple and radiant. The raw, unrefined butter may also help treat skin rashes, acne, burns, stretch marks and dermatitis or rosacea due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial compounds.

Raw, unrefined natural shea butter contains no harsh chemicals or synthetic detergents, and offers moisturizing and healing properties to soothe and repair dry skin while protecting skin's natural oils.

It's a phenomenal natural product which has been used by generations for the numerous health, hair and skincare benefits it offers. Some of the other benefits shea butter has been used for or may help are as follows:

  • helps increase circulation to the skin
  • combats free radicals delaying the aging process
  • prevents and reduces blemishes
  • treats dryness caused by eczema
  • softens and heals dry, rough skin on heels, knees and elbows
  • offers relief from itching
  • restores sheen to hair

The beneficial benefits of shea butter are astounding and I encourage you to not only try it, but read as much as you can to learn about the many ways it can benefit your skin and become a part of your daily skincare routine.

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