Shea butter moisturizer - how to use, benefits and more about this magical gift made by Mother Earth.
Imagine for a minute there was a singular product that could moisturize you head to toe. Something hearty and full-bodied but wouldn’t just sit on the surface of your skin like an oil slick. I know some of you are reading this with your side-eye in full effect, but a product as I described not only does exist, but it happens to be completely 100% natural, nothing synthetic about it.
My friends, today we’re talking about a simple, beautiful, shea butter. For those of you who have never considered the benefits of using this miracle substance, allow me to enlighten you. Found in just about any vaguely health food store, like Whole Foods, or in bulk from websites like Amazon, shea butter is nature’s miracle moisturizer.
What exactly is Shea Butter?
These days, you can find shea butter in just about every moisturizing product on the market, from face lotions and serums to shampoos and hair masks. However, I’m willing to bet few of you know what shea butter is all about.
To start with, shea butter originates from shea tree nuts, native to West African countries such as Liberia and Ghana. The nuts are harvested, and then roasted, so that they can be ground up. From there, the oily granules are boiled, so that the oil rises to the surface of the water, where it’s easy to separate and strain. This process has been done for hundreds of years, mainly by groups of women, from generation to generation. These days you might find certain aspects of shea butter’s manufacturing to be updated, but regardless, the final result is a moisturizer powerful enough to beat the rest.
Once shea butter is formed into a moisturizer, it has a wealth of benefits. You might be surprised to know these facts about shea butter:
First shea butter is potent with vitamins, which contain antioxidant properties - vitamins our skin needs, like vitamins A and E. This combination does such a good job of protecting skin that they can block UV rays, with about 6 SPF used just on its own.
Secondly, according to the esteemed American Journal of Life Sciences, shea butter demonstrates anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. So if you have redness or swelling as a result of dry skin, or the application of acne products, shea butter is the perfect fix. It also helps boost collagen, which can help with tired, drooping skin, or cellulite. Some people find that shea butter cream doesn’t agree with more sensitive skin on their face, but it’s worth a try.
And last, but not least, shea butter also contains emollient properties, to give you a deep-down surge of moisture that lasts. This miracle substance doesn’t just sit on the surface of your skin, it soaks down through skin barriers, lasting for hours and hours at a time. A shea butter moisturizer is perfect as a body moisturizer especially - from peeling cuticles to cracked heels.
How do I use shea butter?
Maybe what you should be asking is “How don’t I use shea butter?” because this is one seriously versatile moisturizer.
First, it may be important to know that shea butter, similar to coconut oil, is hard and solid in colder weather, and softer and pliable in warmer weather. Keep in mind, this is a product developed in the heart of tropical climates.
I recommend using a metal spoon or small spatula to scoop out harder product, and warming it between your hands, for easier application. You can use shea butter straight like this either on your face or anywhere else on your body to quench dry, thirsty skin.
As for where you can use it, the options are pretty much limitless. I love it especially as a hair mask, as will anyone else with textured hair. You can use it straight on your hair, massaging first into your scalp, and working it to the ends of your hair. Following that, let it sit for ten to fifteen minutes, where you can put your feet up, relax. Put those little cucumber slices over your eyes. Maybe you should finally make use of that gua sha tool you got for Christmas, and give yourself a little lymphatic massage. Once those ten to fifteen minutes are up, rinse your hair in cold water, before moving on to your usual shampoo and conditioner. Trust me, your follicles will thank me.
If I’m not slathering my hair in shea butter, then I definitely am laying it on thick on my feet and cuticles. I deal with some chronically dry skin on the soles of my feet, and I find that shea butter is the only thing that can really sink through tough calluses and peeling dry skin. Ladies, fellas, and anyone in between, you’ll want to get a head start for sandal-weather now, so your toes will be soft and smooth once the boots come off come summertime.
That’s not even the end of it!
If a face mask is more along the lines of what you’re looking for, following the harsh winter months, a tried and true recipe I can vouch for combines shea butter, honey, and jojoba oil, with 2 drops of tea tree oil for a face mask that will soothe dry skin, as it also treats acne. I also will use this as a hair mask, since the tea tree oil stimulates your scalp with an amazingly relaxing icy-hot sensation.
This is truly a one-in-all moisturizer, suitable for any need.
What kind of shea butter moisturizer should I start with? There are so many!
Take a deep breath and relax, because we have the perfect brand to start and end with - because trust me: your search ends here.
One of our favorite shea butter moisturizers we’ve ever tried is produced by Eu’genia Shea.
Eu’Genia Shea is a brand that actually has a deeply personal connection to shea butter and Ghana itself. Founded by a mother-daughter duo (Mother Eugenia and daughter Naa-Sakle), their simple recipe was concocted based on the legacy of Ghanian midwifery practice in their family. This is how they discovered the midwife’s best kept secret: shea butter.
Eugenia started a shea butter bulk business, Naasakle International, with a core of sustainable farming practices and fair wages. And yes, she named Naasakle International after her daughter.
In 2014 when Eugenia was in remission from colon cancer, Naa-Sakle formed Eu’Genia Shea, as a way to bring them closer through their shared interest in shea butter, its industry, and history. Though Naa-Sakle runs Eu’genia, she works closely with her mother, both in terms of sourcing shea butter, along with advice and support in running a business.
In the spirit of sustainable farming practices, both environmentally and socially, Eu’Genia has set aside 15% of their profits to go to their female workers in Ghana, who help bring this wonderful brand of shea butter to life. This money is meant to provide educational resources - a benefit not many other manufacturing companies consider.
If that doesn’t stir your interest, the beautiful and thoughtfully designed packaging should. Most other shea butter moisturizers on the market come in plastic tubs or bags, however Naa-Sakle took issue with this, since plastic packaging is hard on the environment (and honestly kind of ugly, let’s be real). She designed a square, gold-colored tin for her products, with a different color border around the lid to denote different formulations and scents. These tins are easy to recycle or reuse, so this product can be zero-waste if you want it to be.
Something interesting to know about this appealing packaging is that it is Gold-colored because shea butter has long been referred to as “women’s gold” in the West African countries from which it originates. The nickname comes from the way shea butter has served as a lightning rod for women-led social and professional collectives.
Eu’Genia Shea offers a variety of shea butter moisturizers, all completely natural. The three you can find here on EcoRoots are Dermatological Strength, Everyday Scentless, and Everyday Lavender scented.
You really can’t go wrong with any one of these, but for those of you with sensitive skin conditions, like eczema and psoriasis, their Dermatological Strength formula is created with you in mind - in fact, it’s made as part of a sponsorship with the National Psoriasis Foundation, so you know this stuff really really works. If you’re interested in their original formula, you’ll find a wholesome blend of moringa and baobab oils along with shea butter.
Aside from the fact that Eu’genia Shea has been vetted from the likes of Vogue, Essence, Oprah Magazine and MSNBC, this company has found a shelf in our stock because of how much we believe in the brand as well as the product. Around here we look for brands that take into account each aspect of a product’s background to line up with our values.
Meaning, we’re looking to partner with companies that care about the environment, animals, and treating employees with compassion and respect. Without a doubt, Eu’genia Shea is emblematic of what we look for.
Okay, this is all very compelling, but why shea butter and not my trusty jar of petroleum-based lotion?
Shea Butter moisturizers are the perfect alternative to petroleum-based so-called moisturizers, like Vaseline and Aquaphor, and not just for its rich texture and protective qualities. Shea Butter will actually heal your skin as it moisturizes, and not simply act as a sealant for your skin until it wears off.
What does petroleum jelly really do for your skin, anyway, besides give you a wicked breakout if you put it anywhere above your neck? Or below your neck, now that I think back to all the times I thought petroleum jelly would resolve my extremely dry and irritated skin come wintertime. Petroleum jelly and its chemical, fossil fuel based-ilk are a temporary fix, but a shea butter cream or moisturizer is the cure.
If you think that’s all that’s wrong with petroleum jelly, think again. Think instead of how much gentler shea butter is on the planet, as a substance that comes from the earth and can be absorbed back into it.
Too many cosmetics are produced without a mind towards how their products may be disposed - whether it comes in the form of unfinished products, makeup wipes, or run off down the sink or shower drain after washing your face. Nanoparticles and chemicals wash off and end up in the ocean, and destroy the delicate coral reefs and the abundant ecosystem therein.
Any single product we buy doesn’t begin and end there; it has a life and story before it ever hits the shelf and life once you’re done with it.
Instead, look for zero waste skin care alternatives that are good for your skin and for the environment.
Think also of how mineral oil and petroleum are manufactured as a whole, and how we extract these materials from the earth. If you didn’t know, mineral or paraffin oil is a byproduct of the refining process crude oil goes through to create gasoline. As most of you should be aware, the extraction and refining or crude oil has had devastating effects on the environment. Also, honestly, just think about coating yourself in gasoline for a second, because that’s essentially Aquaphore. Really take this into consideration the next time you think of picking up your standard baby oil or cold cream.
So really, why wouldn’t you choose shea butter over these other, more unseemly and unclean options? Who would choose to continue using some sticky fossil fuel for your face, when you could choose a product that comes as naturally from the environment as paraffin and petroleum don’t?
If absolutely nothing else, think of how much cuter this little gold tin will look on your shelf, instead of that unsightly plastic jar! Packaging like this is the kind that’ll elevate your whole bathroom.
Making a decision as simple as choosing a natural moisturizer like shea butter, could literally make a world of difference. If you take our advice, choose one like Eu’Genia Shea.