How to Use Shea Butter to Condition Your Hair
The benefits of African shea butter are nothing new— raw unrefined African shea butter is a centuries old all-natural moisturiser that has been used for everything from dry skin and chapped lips to eczema relief.
Yes, shea butter is wonderful to use when you’re looking to achieve lovely soft and hydrated skin, but now is the time to get on the shea butter hair care train. Deeply damaged hair, naturally curly hair and hair that has been over processed can all benefit from using African shea butter for hair conditioning.
What is Shea Butter?
Shea butter (also called African shea butter interchangeably) is a vegetable fat made from the nuts of the African shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa). Scraped from the inside of the shea tree nut, raw shea butter is a pale yellow and pure refined shea butter is a creamy ivory or white colour. Room temperature African shea butter is a solid, but when warmed to body temperature it melts into a rich liquid which makes it easier to absorb into skin.
Shea Butter vs. Cocoa Butter
What’s the difference between shea butter and cocoa butter? The major difference between shea butter and cocoa butter is that they are made from two different plants. Shea butter comes from the V. paradoxa tree native to Africa and cocoa butter comes from the Theobroma cacao tree native to South America.
Both shea butter and cocoa butter are natural vegetable fats extracted from the nut of the tree, both contain highly concentrated fatty acids and are solids that melt at body temperature. Cocoa butter is famous for its use in chocolate making, but shea butter is also often substituted in chocolate making recipes.
In general, raw cocoa butter smells better than raw shea butter. While both shea butter and cocoa butter are highly valued for their moisturising properties, cocoa butter tends to be preferred for use in aromatherapy and massage. However, formulated products like a good shea butter conditioner often have natural fragrances to make the shea butter smell amazing.
The biggest difference between shea butter and cocoa butter is how they interact with your pores. Neither are considered non-comedogenic (i.e. won’t clog your pores at all) but shea butter is less likely to clog pores than cocoa butter, which is considered highly comedogenic.
African Shea Butter Benefits
The main benefit of shea butter is that it is an excellent moisturiser. Packed full of natural minerals and vitamins, like Vitamin A, E, and F, shea butter is a skin-friendly deeply moisturising powerhouse. The palmitic, stearic, and linoleic fatty acids in African shea butter have been shown to help improve the skin barrier, making it a natural emollient. Phenolic components in shea butter have also been shown to work as antioxidants.The moisturising magic of African shea butter also makes it the perfect choice for hydrating hair.
If you’re trying to grow your hair, keeping it moisturised is absolutely vital. Harness the deeply hydrating shea butter benefits to help reduce split ends and breakage while delivering fatty acids and vitamins to directly to your hair and scalp. Using shea butter for hair care can help your locks look and feel healthier.
Other African shea butter benefits include a high amount of triterpene acetate and cinnamate esters, which make it a significant source of anti-inflammatory compounds. The hydration benefits of shea butter and its anti-inflammatory properties can also help soothe symptoms of a dry itchy scalp.
Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioner
Included in this post are several great ways to use African shea butter for hair, but one of our absolute favourites is shea butter leave-in conditioner.
Shea butter leave in conditioner is a heavy-duty moisturiser, probably too much of a powerhouse for average hair, and definitely too much for oily hair. However, naturally curly hair, severely damaged hair and over processed hair can benefit from using shea butter leave-in conditioner at least once a week.
To get the most out of your leave-in shea butter conditioner, first make sure your hair is freshly washed and conditioned. While hair is still rather damp apply a 10p size amount in the palm of your hand and rub your hands together. Work the conditioner through your hair from ends up to roots. Do not rinse out, simply style your hair as usual.
Shea Butter for Hair: Everyday & Deep Conditioning
Everyday Shea Butter Benefits
If you’re constantly dealing with annoying frizzy hair and split ends, using African shea butter in your daily hair care routine may be the answer. The best way to use shea butter for hair every day is to get a good all-natural shea butter shampoo & conditioner. Incorporating shea butter benefits into your daily routine by shea butter shampoo and conditioner is ridiculously simple. All you have to do is wash and condition your hair as usual and let the products do their magic.
How to Deep Condition with Shea Butter
Deep conditioning with African shea butter at least once a week can help give bleached, over-processed, damaged hair the special attention and care required to get back to lush locks. Especially if you’re also using commercial shampoos with ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate, which can strip your hair of the natural oils it needs.
One way to deep condition with African shea butter is to simply apply raw unrefined shea butter to your hair working from ends to root. Let sit for 10 minutes, rinse and style as usual. The only downside to this method is the raw shea butter aroma, which many find unpleasant. However, af few drops of essential oils to raw shea butter easily solved the problem. Another great way to condition with shea butter is to find a quality all-natural shea butter hair mask.
Generally, shea butter hair mask products are going to have other beneficial ingredients and natural fragrances mixed in so the smell is fab. Shea butter hair mask products are also quite versatile in that it’s easy to calculate how often to use them. For “problem hair” (e.g. deeply damaged from bleaching, over-processing, etc.) you can start with working the shea butter mask through hair from tip to root and leave on for a full 20 minutes before rinsing. For general deep conditioning, you may only need 3-5 minutes once a week.
However you decide to use African shea butter for hair care, the benefits like natural minerals and vitamins make it a powerful ingredient. How much shea butter you need in your personal hair routine completely depends on the condition of your hair and scalp, so the way you condition and how much you use is really up to you! Go ahead and experiment— let shea butter be your secret weapon to the lush locks of your dreams.
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