Beauty Ingredient: Benefits of Shea Butter

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Dawn is the owner of Seattle Hill Soap Company and formulates natural and safe soaps and skin care items that are enhanced by herbs, botanicals or clays. You can find Seattle Hill Soap Company at Seattle Hill Soap Co.

There are many benefits of shea butter, the featured beauty ingredient in my Whipped Shea Butter Skin Cream below. Shea butter is derived from the fruit of the Karite tree. It is well known for its moisturizing abilities and can be purchased as an unrefined or refined product. In my experience, most unrefined shea butters can be grainy and has a much stronger nut odor than the refined butters. I don’t find the nutty odor to be offensive, however it can alter your fragrance if using one. Some claim that the refined butters do not contain the same healing properties as the unrefined butters. My take on it is, if you’re looking for moisturizing benefits, refined will work just fine and you won’t have the graininess and odor to deal with. I’ve also found that refined butter seems to last a tad bit longer. If you’re looking to shea butter for its known healing properties, going the unrefined route may be a better option. In my personal experience, shea butter is slow to absorb into the skin and can become greasy if too much is applied. I have recently stumbled upon a shea butter called shea nilotica that actually absorbs into the skin much better than most common shea butter’s I’ve tried. Warning, it’s a bit more expensive than regular shea butter but I find it worth it if using it for a topical treatment. One last note about shea butter; it contains a small amount of naturally occurring latex so folks with latex allergies should do a small skin test or completely avoid it.

One of the wonderful things about shea butter is you can whip it up and it makes a wonderful skin balm. It’s a great treatment for very dry skin and I especially like to use it on my hands and feet when they are very dry. Here is a quick and easy recipe you can do at home.

Skin-nourishing shea butter is made from shea nuts.
Photo by Liv Friis-larsen/Courtesy

Whipped Shea Butter Recipe

For this recipe you’ll need a stand mixer with whisk attachments. Clean jars for product. If you’re reusing a container, it is best if it has been washed in your dishwasher first and preferably on the sanitizing cycle.

• 8 ounces shea butter
• 1/2 teaspoon essential/fragrance oil of your choice (Make sure whatever you use is skin friendly.)
• 1 vitamin E gel capsule (Rhis is an antioxidant for the butter, just like our bodies and will extend the life of the butter.)

1. Add your shea butter to your mixer and begin whipping the butter. I like to start slow so the mixer doesn’t fling the butter everywhere. Add the vitamin E by poking a hole into the capsule with a pin and squeezing it out. Then add fragrance and continue to whip the mixture until light and fluffy. The more air you whip into the butter, the better! If you’re finding the unrefined butter is too grainy for your liking, you can substitute a couple ounces of solid coconut oil for the shea butter. Once you’re satisfied with your whipped butter, stop the mixer and package into jars. This should make approximately two 8-ounce jars of whipped butter with a shelf life of about a year depending on how it’s stored. 

2. One thing to note, this recipe does not include a preservative because it’s 100 percent fat.  Please make sure your hands are completely dry when dipping hands into product as the smallest introduction of water can cause unwanted and potentially dangerous bacteria to grow.  

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