Shea butter is a rich source of moisture, vitamins and fat for your skin and hair. In its natural state, shea butter is a thick, yellowish butter that liquefies at body temperature. Natural anti-inflammatory properties make it a nourishing choice for the scalp, helping to improve your hair growth and health.
Shea butter is a product of the shea-karite tree. The nuts from this tree are harvested, cracked, grilled and pounded. Once the nuts have been pounded, they are boiled for a long period of time and the fat, or shea butter, rises to the top. This rich unrefined shea butter is scooped out of the water and allowed to cool, according to Treasured Locks.
Pure shea butter should be creamy beige in color, with a thick and spreadable consistency according to the American Shea Butter Institute. Shea butter has a characteristic smell that can help you to identify the pure, unrefined product. Opt for unrefined shea butter to make certain that the product you choose has essential vitamin A, vitamin E, phytonutrients and healing fats to help with the health of your hair and scalp, recommends the American Shea Butter Institute.
Shea butter can be applied to both the hair and scalp. If your scalp is dry, irritated or flaky, shea butter may provide critical moisture and help to heal a variety of skin conditions. A healthy scalp is essential to maximize hair growth. Shea butter can also be applied to the hair to moisturize the individual strands, reducing dryness and breakage. Reduced breakage will result in longer and healthier hair over time.
You can use shea butter on your scalp, your hair or both to improve the length, health and appearance of your hair. Gently warm shea butter to liquefy and work through your hair. Leave the emollient butter in place for 30 minutes or longer, wrapping your head in a hot towel for additional warmth. Wash out with shampoo and follow with conditioner. You can also use shea butter as a styling cream, particularly if you have damaged or curly hair. Rub a very small amount of shea butter between your hands, then apply to the hair. Keep the shea butter away from the roots of the hair to avoid making your hair look greasy or unwashed.
While shea butter is quite safe and can be beneficial for the skin and hair, you should avoid shea butter or shea butter products if you have tree nut allergies. There are no clinical trials concerning shea butter and allergies. Consult your allergist or health care provider if you have further questions.