Shea butter gets its name from its rich creamy texture and color.It is an extract from African shea fruit tree kernels that is highly emollient and greatly improves the skin’s barrier function. Having good barrier function means the water you drink to stay hydrated stays inside. Luckily, shea boasts a range of fatty acids (like palmitic, stearic, linoleic, oleic and arachidic acid) which create a healthy, natural barrier against moisture loss.
Shea butter has been shown to penetrate the skin very effectively.Even without the addition of anything else, the wealth of naturally-occurring phenolic compounds in pure shea sound like a technical serum! Triterpenes and catechins in shea actively protect your skin. They provide the significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity that gives shea its reputation for smoothing and soothing. Dermatologist Dr. Leslie S. Baumann states that shea kernels have “eight catechins: gallic acid, catechin, epicatechin, epicatechin gallate, gallocatechin, epigallocatechin, gallocatechin gallate and epigallocatechin gallate, many of which are also found in green tea.” These can suppress inflammatory enzymes and help to soften and smooth the skin.
It’s not necessary to resort to lotions or creams with toxic ingredients to get good daily protection from dryness.Body lotions made with shea retain the protective and maximally moisturising properties of shea in a lighter format. It’s also possible to combine shea with other nutritive plant extracts like lavender (for extra soothing), green tea and raspberry (for extra antioxidants) or mint (for its refreshing properties).
It’s not just about skin, either.Hair is also prone to moisture loss in winter, and unruly, thirsty hair needs to protect its’ moisture barrier just as skin does. Moisturising shampoos made with shea are ideal for very dry hair. Just be sure to use them in conjunction with moisturising shea conditioners. Not only are shea-based conditioners rich and luxurious, but the two products are also designed to work together to balance the pH of the hair, ensure proper protection from damage and leave it manageable.
If you are searching for the best quality traditionally-produced shea products, look no further than Alaffia.Alaffia is an ethical body, face and hair care company aimed at promoting holistic beauty and empowerment through business. They offer authentic shea-based personal care products that are always free of parabens, sulfates and synthetic fragrance, as well as being cruelty-free, fair trade and vegan.
Dana Green Remedios, RHN, RNCP, is a Vancouver-based educator and coach. Sheis a regular contributor to the FloraHealthy blog andcan answer your questions in English, French, and Spanish as a Product Information Specialist at Flora.