Shea butter is a type of fat taken from African shea tree nuts. As the “butter” name implies, shea butter can be edible and used in some types of food preparation. However, shea butter is more widely known for its use in lotions, salves, moisturizers, and body butter.
Why buy shea butter?
Because it contains high volumes of fatty acids and vitamins A, D, and E, shea butter is great for softening, soothing, and evening out skin without making it oily. It can also provide healing and anti-inflammatory benefits. Even though shea butter is technically a nut, it’s low in the proteins that set off nut allergies, so it’s generally safe for most skin types. It can also be used in conditioners since it can help with dandruff, dry scalps, and sometimes even hair breakage.
What should you consider in shea butter products?
- Refined vs. Unrefined: Refined shea butter has been chemically altered or prepared, while unrefined shea butter hasn’t. The scent, color, and benefits of refined and unrefined shea butter are different. Unrefined shea butter retains its natural nutty scent and off-white or ivory color, while refined is odorless and bright white. More importantly, unrefined shea butter retains all of its moisturizing and healing properties, while refined shea butter may have added antioxidants and preservatives but loses much of its natural benefits in the process.
- Quantity: Shea butter comes in various amounts, usually measured in ounces: 6 to 8 ounces tend to be the most common quantities, but you can find it in as little 1 or 2 and as much as 16 ounces. Consider how often you plan to use your shea butter and pick the quantity accordingly. Some brands will offer the same shea butter in multiple quantity options, which may be ideal and more cost-efficient if you tend to use shea butter on a regular or daily basis.
- Jar vs. Bar: Most shea butter will come in an oil or cream-like consistency in a jar. These are great if you plan to use the shea butter directly on your skin or hair. However, if you plan to use the shea butter in-home crafts or DIY projects, you may prefer to buy it as a bar instead. It’s easier to measure out specific amounts in a more solid form, and you can always melt it down into liquid form if need be.
Is it hard to make DIY shea butter products?
No, it’s not difficult to make DIY shea butter products. There are thousands of step-by-step recipes online to make everything from shea butter lotion to bath bombs to conditioner. Most of these procedures require a stovetop or burner to melt down the shea butter and make it easier to work into the product of your choice. Most DIY shea butter products take under an hour to make.
Pros: This belly butter lasts for a long time, often throughout the entire pregnancy and beyond. It doesn’t have a strong or offensive odor, which is great for pregnant women who often have sensitive noses. The smooth lotion absorbs into your skin right away so that you’re not left feeling greasy.
Cons: The formula of this product has changed within the last couple of years, leaving some loyal customers unimpressed. While this product helps with the appearance of stretch marks, it may not fully prevent them. People with coconut allergies can’t use this product.
Bottom Line: Since this product is made by a well-known natural cosmetics brand, you can trust that it’s safe for your skin. It absorbs into the skin beautifully, leaving it soft and supple and helping with stretch marks.
SheaMoisture Face and Body Bar
Specifically formulated to soothe dry skin, this moisturizing bar beautifully cleanses without any sulfates, parabens, or phthalates.
Pros: This is a sustainably made soap that’s gentle enough to use on a child’s skin. It has essential oils in it and no artificial fragrances. It’ll soothe and clean skin without harsh ingredients.
Cons: Some users noticed their skin feeling a little tight after using it. Shea butter is not the first ingredient on the product label. Natural essential oils may cause an allergic reaction.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for deep moisturizing bar soap, this is a nice choice. You can feel good about the fact that it has no chemical additives.
Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioning Repair Cream
This leave-in conditioning treatment helps to ease frizz, split ends, or dry and damaged hair to support healthy hair growth.
Pros: This leave-in conditioner works well on most hair types. It can heal damage from dying, bleaching, relaxing, perming, heated styling, or environmental factors. This treatment can also remove residue and buildup from the hair leaving it cleaner and shinier.
Cons: Be wary of using this with other conditioning and styling products, as it may dry and flake. It contains alcohol, which isn’t good for curly hair. It can also leave a little bit of a greasy residue on your hair.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a moisturizing leave-in conditioner made with natural products, this is for you. It’s loved by swimmers wanting to improve chlorine-damaged hair. It has a pleasant smell that most people love.
Broadway Vita-Lip Clear Lip Gloss
Lip gloss doesn't have to be a sticky mess with this shea butter lip gloss that moisturizes and heals lips.
Pros: This pack of lip gloss is a great value for the money. It has a pleasant taste that isn’t strong and it adds a lovely shine. This lip gloss should last beyond many of its competitors.
Cons: This shea butter lip gloss is only available in the three-pack, so if you try it and don’t love it, you’ll have extras. The bottles may leak a little bit in transit, so be sure to secure them tightly. The scents are extremely subtle.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a lip gloss that leaves your lips feeling hydrated, these shea butter glosses could be a great choice for you. While you can’t mix and match your flavors, these are affordable and give your lips the plump and shiny look that influencers love.
Shea butter products are great to have on hand. Shea butter is versatile in its healing, moisturizing, and anti-inflammatory properties, and you can easily use it on sensitive skin. Because shea butter is technically edible (but not delicious by any means), you can feel safe using pure shea butter around your mouth or on young children. If you want shea butter products for your body, give our top picks a try.