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Monday, June 24, 2024

Wonders of shea butter on hair and skin

In the vast world of beauty ingredients, it can be challenging to separate the truly effective from the overhyped. However, one ingredient that has stood the test of time and continues to gain popularity in Nigeria is shea butter.

This natural wonder, derived from the nuts of the African shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa), has been a staple in Nigerian beauty routines for generations.

What sets shea butter apart?
According to Dr. Adeyim Idayat, a renowned dermatologist based in Lagos, shea butter is a powerhouse of essential fatty acids, including oleic acid, stearic acid, and linoleic acid.

“These fatty acids are crucial for maintaining the health and integrity of our skin and hair,” explains Dr. Idayat. “Shea butter also boasts an impressive array of vitamins, such as vitamins A and E, as well as cinnamic acid, which possesses anti-inflammatory properties.”

Shea butter for healthy, lustrous hair
Olamide Okwusidi, a celebrated Nigerian hairstylist and founder of debshavenbotanicals, swears by the benefits of shea butter for hair. “Shea butter is a game-changer for those struggling with dry, damaged, or brittle hair,” says Okwusidi.

“Its rich antioxidant content helps combat a flaky, itchy scalp, while the fatty acids work to balance the oil production on the scalp and hair.”

One of the most significant advantages of shea butter for hair is its deep moisturizing properties. Okwusidi explains, “Shea butter penetrates the hair shaft, nourishing it from within and helping to repair damage and prevent split ends. It’s an excellent choice for those with natural hair or those who frequently style their hair with heat tools.”

The skin-loving properties of shea butter
Dr Ifeanyi Robert Chukwuka, a board-certified dermatologist and lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, emphasizes the moisturizing benefits of shea butter for the skin.

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“Shea butter acts as a barrier, preventing the loss of water through the skin, a process known as trans-epidermal water loss,” says Dr. Chukwuka. “This makes it an effective moisturizer for all skin types, especially those with dry or sensitive skin.”

In addition to its moisturizing properties, shea butter has been found to possess healing and protective qualities.

Dr. Idayat points out, “The triterpenes present in shea butter aid in wound healing and scar reduction, making it a popular choice for minimizing the appearance of scars and stretch marks.” Moreover, shea butter offers a low level of natural sun protection (SPF 6), providing an extra layer of defense against harmful UV rays when used in conjunction with sunscreen.

Incorporating shea butter into your beauty routine
To reap the maximum benefits of shea butter, it’s essential to use it correctly. Dr. Chukwuka advises applying shea butter to the skin after washing and gently patting it dry, as this helps lock in moisture.

When using pure shea butter, Dr. Idayat recommends warming a small amount in the palm of your hands before massaging it onto clean, dry skin, focusing on areas that require extra moisture, such as elbows, knees, and dry patches.

For those looking to harness the power of shea butter for their hair, Okwusidi suggests using it sparingly, as a little goes a long way. “Start with a small amount, especially if you have fine hair or an oily scalp,” advises Okwusidi. “You can always add more if needed, but using too much can weigh down your hair.”

Shea butter-infused products to try
Black soap with shea butter: This classic Nigerian black soap, enriched with shea butter, is a favorite among locals for its gentle cleansing and moisturizing properties.

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Luxury shea oil: This lightweight, shea butter-based oil is perfect for those looking to add a boost of hydration to their skin and hair without the heaviness of pure shea butter.

Shea moisture raw shea butter deep treatment masque: Formulated with raw shea butter, this deep conditioning treatment is a must-try for those with dry, damaged, or chemically-treated hair.

Shea butter has earned its place as a staple in Nigerian beauty routines, and for good reason. Its unique blend of essential fatty acids, vitamins, and anti-inflammatory properties make it a versatile and effective ingredient for both skin and hair.

By incorporating shea butter into your beauty regimen, you can unlock the secrets to healthier, more radiant skin and hair, just as generations of Nigerians have done before you.

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