Do you find your body lotions ineffective against your skin dryness in the winter season? Chances are that your skin is in need of a richer dose of moisturisation. That’s where body butters come into the picture. Not only are body butters thicker and richer than most body lotions, but they are also highly effective in rejuvenating the skin and healing the dry patches around elbows and knees.

Yes, once you discover the right body butter for your skin, slathering your skin with it right after a shower will become your favourite thing to do in winters!

What are body butters? (And why does your body need them?)

Most body butters are made from natural butters extracted from seeds and nuts. What makes them unique and different from lotions is that they do not contain water and hence they are more nourishing. Body butters can be of different types ranging from shea butter to mango butter and chocolate butter. Sometimes natural oils like almond, jojoba, grapeseed or coconut are also added to body butters to further nourish and protect your skin. 

This article will be focusing on one of the most popular body butter - Shea butter. Shea butter is native to Africa but has gained immense popularity across the world for its amazing benefits for the skin. 

What is Shea Butter?

Before we dive into the benefits and uses of shea butter, it is important to understand what shea butter is.

Shea butter is a fatty oil that exists in solid form at room temperature. It is extracted from the nuts of the shea tree that is found in abundance in Africa. The nuts inside these fruits of this tree are the source of this magical body butter. These shea nuts are crushed, boiled and toiled to extract shea butter.

You may have heard about shea butter only recently but it has been used for the skin for centuries. 

The Africans were the first to discover the amazing uses of shea butter. During the reign of Cleopatra, shea butter was popular as women’s gold and the Africans stored it in jars for using it on their skin and hair. Shea butter is still extensively used in Africa to protect the skin and hair against wind and the harsh rays of the sun. The shea tree is found in abundance in western Africa and is considered sacred by many tribes in western Africa. 

Shea butter is also extensively recommended in Ayurveda for pacifying Vata and Pitta skin doshas. Vata or Pitta skin types tend to suffer from dryness and shea butter is the perfect remedy for them. 

Benefits of Shea Butter

Shea butter the best source of moisture for your skin, making it a must-have during winters. The composition of shea butter includes oleic acid, stearic acid and linoleic acid. It is rich in vitamins A, E and C which are essential for a youthful and glowing skin, making it the skin's best friend. Shea butter is so supple and nourishing that it can heal cracked heels and dry cuticles. 

Even though shea butter is popular for its skin benefits, this miracle ingredient can be used to treat various health issues as well. Shea butter has been used in Africa for many years to treat muscle aches and sores. Hence, you can massage your skin Shea Butter to cure pain and provide relief from inflammation caused by diseases such as rheumatism. Owing to its high content of vitamin A, shea butter can also be used to soothe skin allergies and treat insect bites.

Not only this, shea butter also repairs damaged hair by restoring the lost moisture back into the hair, making it a natural hair conditioner. The moisturising ability of shea butter soothes dry flaky scalp and treats split ends as well. The Africans used shea butter to protect their hair from the harsh rays of the sun and to heal the damage caused by the sun. Next time you head out to the pool, you can apply shea butter on your hair before swimming to protect it from the harmful effects of chlorine present in the pool. 

In the later section of this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of Shea butter for skin and hair in detail. But before we do that, let’s understand how to find the best shea butter for our skin.

What is the best Shea Butter?

When it comes to selecting the best kind of shea butter to use, the task can be quite daunting as the market has a lot of variants to offer.

It’s important to note that pure shea butter has a very thick consistency and texture. While this makes shea butter perfect for Vata and Pitta type dry skin, it might not be suitable for Kapha skin types and could cause irritation/rashes to sensitive skin.  Hence, Shea butter is sometimes mixed with other natural butters and oils to make it suitable for all skin types. Mixing Shea butter with other natural ingredients such as Kokum butter, Mango butter, Jojoba oil, Coconut oil and Lotus oil makes it tridoshic, which means suitable for all skin types. 

Kama Ayurveda’s Shea Lotus Body Butter is one such body butter. It provides instant relief from flaking and dry patches, firms and tones the skin, helps in lightening the appearance of scars and stretch marks. 

The combination of lotus oil and shea butter together work towards minimising the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and stretch marks. This body butter not only nourishes the skin deeply but also prevents it from ageing. 

This body butter also has Coconut and Jojoba Oils who anti-inflammatory action protects the skin against infections, acne breakouts and blemishes.

Another shea body butter suitable for all skin types is Kama Ayurveda’s Kokum and Almond Body butter. In this body butter, shea butter is blended with 100% natural cold-pressed Almond and Coconut oil along with Cocoa and Kokum butter. This body butter improves the elasticity and complexion of the skin while providing intense moisturization.

How to use Shea butter for your skin?

The best time to use any body butter on your skin is right after you take a bath. Simply take a generous amount of body butter and massage it in upward strokes on your skin till it’s completely absorbed. While massaging, concentrate on rough areas such as knees and elbows as they are most prone to dryness. Feel free to reapply at night before sleeping if your skin feels dry, stretched or uncomfortable.

Please note that shea butter, like all body butters is only meant to be used on the body and is not suitable for the face. The thick consistency of shea butter might lead to clogged pores if it’s used on the face and hence you should opt for natural day creams or night creams instead.

Benefits of Shea Butter for Skin

Shea butter is known to have been used by Cleopatra and even the Queen of Sheba for the innumerable benefits it has on the skin. Here is a comprehensive list of benefits and uses of shea butter for the skin.

  • Natural moisturiser for the skin

Shea butter is known for its moisturising properties. It locks the moisture in the skin and keeps it supple and hydrated all day. It can also treat dry and cracked heels, and grey, ashy elbows and knees. 

What sets this apart from the rest of the body butters and oils is that shea butter penetrates the skin without clogging the pores. Winter season is here and we suggest everyone to keep a jar of shea butter by their bedside. 

  • Treats acne and scars

Shea butter is known for its healing properties and can be used to treat acne and acne scars. It contains several fatty acids and plant sterols such as oleic, palmitic, stearic, and linolenic acids that treat scars and blemishes. Raw, unrefined shea butter is effective in treating frost bites, burns, athletes foot, skin peeling and rashes as well.

  • Anti-ageing properties

Shea butter contains vitamin A and C which is known for its anti-ageing properties. Shea butter stimulates the production of collagen which keeps the skin youthful, supple and radiant. Applying shea butter every day before bed will reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on the body. Most wrinkles appear on the parts of the body which receive the most sun exposure, especially the neck, the back of the hands, and the arms. Pay special attention to them while moisturising your body. 

Shea butter also protects the skin against pollution and UV rays. To protect your face from the sun, you can use Kama Ayurveda’s Natural Sunscreen which is rich in Shea Butter due to which it soothes irritation, repairs sunspots and other signs of sun damage.

  • Reduces skin inflammation

Shea butter also has anti-inflammatory properties due to the presence of cinnamic acid present in it. Inflammations resulting from conditions such as dermatitis and rosacea can be eased by applying shea butter on the troubled area. Sunburns, dermatitides, rashes, and cuts that can result in inflammation can also be treated using shea butter. 

Nasal congestion can also be treated using shea butter. Although this may seem weird, nasal congestion is often caused due to inflammation in the inner lining of the nose. Applying shea butter on the nostrils can relieve you from nasal congestion.

  • Alleviate razor bumps/ irritation

Hair removal using a razor can leave the skin dry and itchy. Often enough, it may lead to the appearance of bumps and ingrown hair which may be a source of irritation. Applying shea butter on the skin after shaving will alleviate the symptoms. It can also be used before shaving to soften the skin for a smoother shaving experience. 

  • Prevents the appearance of stretch marks

The major cause for the appearance of stretch marks is when the skin stretches beyond its natural elastic capacity. This may happen during pregnancy or due to weight gain/loss. Massaging shea butter on the skin regularly will help reduce the appearance of stretch marks by improving the elasticity of the skin. It will also lighten the existing stretch marks while also deeply moisturising the skin.

  • Soothes baby diaper rashes

For all the new mothers out there, shea butter is a must-have in your baby’s care routine. Shea butter is mild and devoid of any harsh chemicals. It is an excellent natural moisturiser and is gentle on the skin. I would suggest massaging this butter on your toddler’s skin for relief from diaper rashes and conditions such as eczema. 

  • Lip butter

Dry and chapped lips are every girl’s nightmare. This winter, keep a jar of shea butter by your bedside table and use it as a natural lip balm before bed. Wake up with soft and supple lips. 

Shea butter for hair

In this article, we’ve talked about Shea butter as a natural nourishing body butter. But the unrefined, natural and 100% pure shea butter can be used on hair as well for numerous benefits. Let us move on to understanding the many uses of pure shea butter for hair.

  • Repairs dull and damaged hair

Using heat and chemical products on your hair is the main reason for your hair to lose its natural shine, making it dull and damaged. Shea butter can help restore the lost moisture from your hair, thereby adding life and volume to your hair. Shea butter also has SPF that protects the hair against the sun. the Africans used shea butter to protect their hair against the wind and the sun. Massaging your hair with shea butter before washing it, as usual, is one of the ways in which you incorporate shea butter into your hair- care routine.

  • Soothes dry and itchy scalp

Dry, itchy and flaky scalp conditions can be treated using shea butter. Shea butter has anti-inflammatory properties that are extremely effective in treating dandruff and conditions such as scalp psoriasis. 

  • Prevents hair loss and treats split ends

Shea butter has many nutrients that are extremely beneficial for the hair and improve the overall hair quality. It makes the hair follicles stronger and thereby prevents hair loss caused by breakage. It also moisturises the scalp and hair to mend split ends and add a natural shine and bounce to your hair. No wonder, it is being used in many shampoos and hair products these days. 

Now that you are aware of the numerous benefits shea butter has not only on the skin and hair but also on the overall health, what are you waiting for? Go grab your very own shea butter right away. 

But before purchasing shea butter, it is important that you are aware of the side effects of shea butter. Although very rare, shea butter may have side effects such as weakness, nausea, dizziness, stomach ache, headache and hives. If you go through any of the above symptoms, consult a doctor immediately. Although these side effects are very rare, we would suggest that you conduct a small patch test before actually using the product.

References -

  1. Anti-inflammatory and skin barrier effects of topical application of plant oils - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796020
  2. Nutritional composition of Shea butter - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24261539
  3. Natural moisturizers and dermatitis - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5849435/