Over the years, testing countless natural skincare products, I've come to favor a few ingredients in particular. Raw unrefined shea butter instantly became a favorite of mine, and years later, it's still one of my must-have skincare products. It's really an all-over beauty product that has so many uses from head to toe. Being that it contains Vitamins A and E as well as fatty acids like linoleic and oleic acids, there are so many benefits to using shea butter. Disclosure: This post is part of a paid partnership with Elite Shea Butter
1. One of the simplest ways I incorporate raw shea butter into my beauty routine is to use it as a lip moisturizer. I like to dab on a little to smooth out my lips before applying any other lip products.
2. If you're able to tolerate commercial lip plumper products, you might want to try making your own. All it takes is 2-3 drops of cinnamon oil mixed with one teaspoon of shea butter. Use with caution and test a small area first, and rinse off if irritation occurs. But let's be real here. Brand name lip plumpers, the ones that actually work that is, do cause irritation. It's something I put up with for the sake of a sexier pout, especially if I have a lipstick brand as a current social media sponsor or modeling and photography client.
3. At bedtime I really pile it on for a nourishing overnight lip mask. If my lip are feeling extra dry, I like to pat in some pure Vitamin E oil before applying the shea butter.
4. In addition to making a good lip mask, shea butter is also great for making a diy hair mask. If you're using it in raw form without any other ingredients, it can pull at the hair a little if it's too solid, so I like to warm it first so that it spreads more easily and evenly. Warming it also makes it perfect for mixing with natural oils that are best for hair health, like coconut oil and grapeseed oil.
5. Whenever my hair needs not only a moisture boost but a color boost as well, I pair melted shea butter with dark cocoa powder for a gentle all-natural hair tint. I typically use it as a pre-shower hair mask to make my brunette hair appear less dull and even a little darker in color. I've only just recently started experimenting with it in this way, so by no means have I perfected my recipe. But as soon as I do, I'll be sure to share it!
6. The older I get, the more I struggle with thinning hair, but fortunately I've found many natural ingredients that are effective at boosting hair growth. I start with an oil that stays in liquid form, like unrefined sweet almond oil or sunflower seed oil, and infuse it with herbal ingredients known to aid in hair growth - peppermint, ginger root, green tea, and rosemary, Then I melt the shea butter and combine it with the infused oil.
If that seems like too much work, or if you don't want to wait for the infused oil, you can try peppermint and rosemary essential oils along with the shea butter and carrier oil. I find that those essential oils in particular work very well on my scalp, but then again I don't have a sensitive scalp. If you do, you'll want to make sure you get the proportions right and that you do a patch test first.
7. When it comes to hair styling, shea butter comes to my aid yet again. I get about a pea size amount and warm it in my palms before using it to smooth down little hairs along the hairline and to smooth down my part. Though keep in mind if shea butter tends to give you breakouts when used on your face, be careful about getting it too close to your hairline.
8. Shea butter is also great for taming eyebrows. I know, I know...brow soap is what all the cool kids are currently using to tame their brows. But honestly unless a brand wants to sponsor a review, I have no intention of spending extra money on a separate product when I can simply use something I already have, like shea butter. Even better, shea butter contains two of the five best vitamins for hair growth. I could definitely go for some hair growth on my teeny thin brows.
9. Considering what I just said about hair growth, I also like to apply a small amount of shea butter to my upper lash line and lashes. I find that pure vitamin E oil works very well at boosting my lash growth, but as shea butter is solid at room temperature, it's much easier to use for moisturizing my lashes without getting it in my eyes. If you're young, you may not need to moisturize your lashes. But if you're like me, you'll find that with age, lashes can become dry and brittle. Keeping them moisturized is important to help prevent further breakage and thinning.
10. Another change I'm noticing with age lately is more wrinkles on my upper lids. While retinols help with fine lines and wrinkles on my face, my eyes are far too sensitive to put anything on my lids that isn't 100% natural and non-irritating. I find that shea butter on my upper lids helps to smooth the look of lines when wearing makeup, and as a night cream, its vitamin A and vitamin E content can improve the look of skin there as well.
11. To provide my undereye area with more moisture and wrinkle-fighting nutrients too, I use raw shea butter as a rich undereye cream, over my usual eye serum. I warm it between my fingertips first and dab it on before gently smoothing it over the area, so as to not pull on the delicate undereye skin.
12. While shea butter is often touted as being non-comedogenic, and thus suitable as a facial moisturizer, it can be too heavy for some and can cause breakouts depending on the amount of shea butter that is in a product. I find that my face can tolerate it occasionally as a night cream, or as a moisturizer and primer when I'm going for a glowing dewy-skin look, which I'm loving at the moment!
If you try something a few days in a row and find it eventually causes breakouts, my advice is not to stop using it altogether but to simply try using it less. A lot of beauty products ranging from retinols and exfoliators to moisturizers and essential oils can sometimes be a bad thing depending on your skin and depending on how often and how much of the product you use. Too much salicylic acid, for instance, can dry out my skin, but just a little a few times a week can really keep my breakouts at bay, My point here is shea butter can be an invaluable moisturizer, even on the face, if you pay attention to how much works best on you.
It's also important to learn to pay attention to your skin's changing needs. Sometimes my face loves shea butter all over, while other times (whether it be due to changes in weather or aging or a reaction to another product), my skin becomes more combination than balanced. That is when I find a rich moisturizer like shea butter is best used on dry flaky areas only, typically on and around my nose.
13. On my body however, my skin is always ready for a dose of rich raw shea butter. I like to massage it into areas where I have scars or stretch marks, and I especially love it on drier areas like elbows and knees. It gives a nice plumping and smoothing effect immediately, as the fatty acids in shea butter are great at penetrating the skin and sealing in moisture. And I know that with consistent continued use, the Vitamins A and E in it will further improve my skin's tone and texture.
During the colder months, when I tend to struggle with dry skin, I like to layer my body care just as I do with my facial care - starting with a hydrating mist then a light hyaluronic acid serum, followed with a fast-absorbing and nourishing oil like grapeseed oil, then topping all of that off with raw shea butter.
14. While I often prefer raw unrefined shea butter all by itself for my scars and extra dry areas; sometimes I prefer a pre-mixed DIY body butter made with moisturizing oils and my favorite essential oil blends in addition to the shea butter, especially during warmer weather when my skin isn't as dry and only needs some quick moisture.
It makes for a luxurious texture that is very easy to spread, and adding in a natural fragrance turns this otherwise quick body care routine into an indulgent and relaxing self care routine that also incorporates aromatherapy. My favorite time for that is after an evening shower while I'm in bed watching a good show, like Bridgerton! Here is a great DIY body butter recipe that you can make in just 30 minutes, and you can customize it with your favorite essential oils and carrier oils.
If you don't use essential oils but still want to reap the benefits of plant-based ingredients, all you need is a bit of patience. Instead of using chamomile essential oil, for instance, place dried chamomile flowers in a jar and cover it with a liquid carrier oil, like unrefined almond or sunflower seed oil and seal tightly with a lid. Let this set for 4-6 weeks, then strain and mix with the shea butter using the same method in the diy body butter recipe mentioned above.
15. For my son's eczema, we usually need gentle minimal ingredients with effective moisturizing. When it really flares up, he starts with a diy mist (made with ingredients like aloe, nettle, chamomile, etc.) then uses coconut oil and Vitamin E oil, and finishes off with raw shea butter. The essential fatty acids in shea butter not only aid in moisturizing the skin, but they also have anti-inflammatory properties, which is of course perfect for irritated dry skin.
It takes consistent use twice a day every day, but that skincare routine has kept us from having to use topical steroids and other prescription creams, which can actually make eczema worse over time and are usually painful for him to use on inflamed cracked skin. When he merely has a little dry skin, coconut oil and raw shea butter are all that he needs.
I hope you've been inspired by my favorite ways to incorporate shea butter in my beauty routine. Let me know in the comments below if you've tried raw shea butter, and if so, what are your favorite ways to use it?
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