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Shea butter-Healing properties?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

With the big surge of cosmetic companies incorporating "natural" ingredients into their products most of you have probably heard of shea butter. But I am not sure that most know how versatile it is.

Lets first take a look at what it is. It is the fatty product of the fruit of a shea (Karite) tree, that is obtained from countless hours of crushing and then boiling. The tree is native to the African continent.

I know it as an excellent skin moisturizer. Whenever my skin is looking a little "weathered" I treat it to a soak in the tub and the use of some natural shea soap and after drying off I allow the heat from my skin to melt the butter allowing it to sink right in. The results are amazing!! I mean, I would post pics but everyone would just start sending e-mail's asking for my autograph, and who really has time for that?

It is also fantastic for dry brittle hair. As a pre-shampoo treatment I saturate my hair with olive oil, and then apply shea butter paying close attention to the ends. After applying a plastic cap, I sit under a hooded dryer for about an hour, and I can hear my hair saying , "Thank you".

I was pleasantly surprised to read of the other uses. They include :

Extreme dryness
skin allergies
fungal infections
stretch marks
So what's in it that causes it to be so good for you? Well first they contain phytonutrients that are utilized in cell regeneration and healing. Vitamin A Helps to repair the skin. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant. It helps the skin remain it's elasticity as it contains Lupeol and Beta-Amyrin, Vitamin A and Cinnamic Acid which all help to inhibit the enzyme Elastase which is responsible for breaking down elastin, and elastin is what causes our skin to be ...well...elsatic. Now we don't want that, now do we?
One thing to remember is that shea butter must be used consistently over a period of time before any results are seen, but if you make it a part of your regular beauty regime you should have no problem.
The only thing that bothers me about this wonderful emollient is that the women who put in so much work, grinding the shea nut by hand to bring this product to us get menial pay, while the middle man sees all of the profit.

Some tips on buying Shea butter,
Natural shea butter can vary in color from yellow to a light tan. A white product is a product that has been refined which is usually done to remove the smell but it also removes the properties that make it so useful.
Be advised that just because you see she butter as an ingredient listed in you favorite product, does not make it a good product. Most have been expressed using Hexane not to mention the other ingredients which could be toxic to your system.
I have always found it cheaper to buy in bulk from a company that specializes in soap making. No fancy packages no high prices. Two of my favorites are: