Shea butter is an oil that is taken out of shea tree and has rich content of fats. It has long been used as an input to manufacture several healthcare products like shampoos, conditioners, cosmetics and lotions. Using this product can have innumerable benefits on our health.
Shea butter is fast becoming one of the active resources for enhancing the health of your skin, hair and relieving pain. The global market size of this product was $1.12 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.6%. This shows how widely shea butter is being used around the globe.
Here is everything that you need to know about it.
What Is Shea Butter?
Shea tree, a native species of Africa is the source of this variety of butter. The nuts of the tree contain this butter and are processed by crushing, boiling and manipulating to obtain a fine color fat. This fat is called the shea butter. It must be stored at normal room temperature.
The chemical composition of shea butter offered has a lot of benefits on your health, which contains:
- Cetyl Esters
Waxy part is used to moisturize the skin.
- Vitamins A, E and F
Containing antioxidant properties that improve blood circulation.
Part of shea that nourishes the skin.
- Palmitic, Stearic, Linoleic and Oleic Fatty Acids
Balances the oil content of the skin.
There are many advantages of using shea butter. One of them is that it gets absorbed in the skin very quickly and melts at body temperature. It is used to treat many anti-inflammatory skin diseases. Besides, it is also as an ingredient for food preparation by Africans.
What Are the Benefits of Shea Butter for Your Health?
There are many positive influences that using the butter on your health. It is believed to be a good nourishment product for hair and skin while preventing and curing some diseases.
Benefits for Hair
It can enhance the health of your hair in the following ways:
- Cures Hair Loss
Hair loss is a major cause of worry for every middle aged person. Stress, anxiety and a lack of moisture are responsible for hair problems. Shea butter has fatty acids that help enrich the hair and scalp. This helps hair follicles be powerful and aid in preventing hair loss. The compounds present in it also help increase the growth of hair.
- Repairs Damaged Hair
The use of perms, curlers and straighteners decreases the moisture content of the hair. This leads to serious damage in the hair scalp. Shea butter contains natural ingredients which help restore moisture. It acts as a guard against the pollutants in the air and water.
Shea butter also has low SPF that reduces the damage from harmful UV rays of the sun. It forms a coat around the hair and resists heat due to harsh weather conditions.
- Served as Natural Conditioner
Some vitamins like A and E present in shea butter make it a perfect natural moisturizer. It is the best substitute to other chemical conditioners that damage the hair and cause hair weak. It does not form a greasy or heavy layer on the hair.
- Treats Split Ends
Split ends is a major problem for women. This ingredient has a restoring effect on the hair scalp that strengthens the roots of hair. This helps mend split ends and nourish healthier and brighter hair.
Benefits for Skin
Daily use of the shea butter can help give a healthy skin and cure several skin problems.
Here are the reasons why:
- Treats Acne and Blemishes
Shea butter is believed to be an excellent healing agent. Plant sterols and fatty acids contained in the butter do not get transformed into soap when they come in contact with alkalies. Unrefined version can help cure skin diseases like rashes, skin peeling, stretch marks, burns and frostbites. It is being widely used as a remedy for minor skin problems.
- Moisturizes the Skin
It is an exceptional moisturizing agent that can be applied on the skin, including the face. The fatty acids like oleic, stearic, palmitic acids and linoleic have a moisturizing effect on the skin. Shea butter gets easily absorbed by the skin and helps to restore lipids that create a moist layer on the skin. This acts as a barrier between the skin and the outside environment, relieving dryness of the skin.
It helps increase the secretion of collagen, a type of protein responsible for skin elasticity. In addition to that, vitamins present in it are responsible for nourishing the skin. Together, these compounds help reduce wrinkles, facial lines and improve circulation in the skin. This results in a younger and healthier looking skin.
The chemicals present in the butter also has antioxidant properties that stand guard to fight the harmful effects of the environment.
- Relieves Itchy Skin
Anti-inflammatory and moisturizing nature of the shea butter is proved to be beneficial in curing itchiness. Dry skin can lead to peeling, itchiness and other skin problems. Fatty acids in the butter nurture the skin with a moisturizing effect to minimize itchy and peeling feelings.
- Used as Lip Balm
Applying the butter on your lips can prevent lips from getting damaged in the cold season. The butter can be applied as a balm for lip care. It takes no time to get absorbed and is a very good moisturizer.
Benefits in Curing Other Diseases
- Balances Cholesterol Levels
Adding few amounts of shea butter in food can help to lower the amount of cholesterol in the body. It is widely used as an ingredient for preparing food in Africa. The butter has rich content of a particular type of fatty acid – stearic acid. This fatty acid has been observed to decrease plasma and lipoprotein cholesterol levels in humans.
- Treats Arthritis
Increasing age results in a severe joint disorder called Arthritis. It can also be caused by obesity or injury. Arthritis restricts easy movement of individuals and is painful. Shea butter has triterpenes, a compound that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The use of shea butter has shown to reduce the level of pain in individuals suffering from Arthritis.
- Eases Muscle Aches
Inflammation can lead to soreness and aches in the muscles. The butter can be used as an effective remedy to treat muscle pain. To decrease the tension in muscles and provide relief from soreness and pain, you can use shea butter.
- Treats Nasal Diseases
Nasal infections are a common disease that can be caused by cold or exposure to pollution. Sometimes inflammation on the inside layer of the nasal area can cause irritation. Applying shea butter can cure the nasal congestion. You can apply shea butter in the nostrils with the help of your fingers.
- Treats Diarrhea
Diarrhea is a sickness that results in passing of loose stools. It can be caused by a number of reasons like drinking contaminated water, food allergy or parasitic infection. It is sometimes added to food products to treat diarrhea. Shea butter consists several chemical properties that help treat this disease.
How to Select Between Refined and Unrefined Shea Butter?
Shea butter is available in two categories-unrefined and refined.
Shea butter that is obtained naturally from the tree is known as unrefined category. It has all the natural ingredients and is subjected to minimum processing. The essential contents like vitamins, minerals and other compounds are intact in this category of butter. It is subdivided as A to F which classifies them according to their quality.
Unrefined butter that is subjected to processing is called refined shea butter. To enhance the appearance, smell and characteristics of the butter, it might be mixed with some chemicals. In the process this ultimately leads to loss of certain natural ingredients of shea butter.
Refined shea butter lacks the high concentration of natural compounds present in unrefined butter. Unrefined shea butter is considered to be the most effective and best quality.
How Should You Store Shea Butter ?
Shea butter is a popular product that has many health benefits. Ideally, it must be stored in a cool and dry place, inside an airtight box. You can store it at normal room temperature. Unrefined shea butter stays fresh for a period of 18-24 months. Though it can be used even after that, the results would not be that great.
Do not store it at a place that receives direct sunlight or near any kind of heat. This might cause continuous melting and solidification of the product. It will alter the composition of the product making it less effective.
You have learnt about the several benefits of using shea butter. It has a positive influence on the health of your hair, skin and also helps in curing diseases. The demand for shea butter is steadily increasing. Using it does not seem to have any side effects and is considered to be safe. In the absence of any documented research that highlights any side effects, shea butter will keep on being widely used.
The naturally available fat is a great product that can cure many health diseases. Natural composition of the the product makes it excellent for everyday use. Many harmful cosmetic products that contain toxic chemicals like shampoos, lotions, hair oil, etc can be avoided. Shea butter can be used as a perfect replacement for these products.