What is shea butter? Is shea butter anti-aging? Shea butter is the fat extract from the shea trees’ nuts. It’s commonly produced in West Africa, where the shea tree is indigenous. The color of the shea butter is similar to ivory when unprocessed. It becomes whiter as it’s progressively processed. However, the color may vary depending on what mixture was added. For example, it tends to turn yellow when certain roots are added.
For centuries, this extract has been mainly used in cosmetics as a moisturizer or lotion. Today, we can also find them in lip gloss, hair products, and soap. It’s highly concentrated in healthy fatty acids and vitamins that can help revitalize your skin and provide a smoother and healthier appearance.
Also, shea butter is used for culinary purposes in most African regions. For example, in the African country of Benin, shea butter is primarily used for cooking oil. It’s often mixed with other oils and at times as an alternative for cocoa butter. It has other uses such as an ingredient of its medicinal ointments. In some African regions, it’s used in the traditional manufacturing of their percussion instruments. This is to strengthen the leather straps, woods, and calabash gourds. Other uses include as an ingredient for candle-making and waterproof wax.
In other countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, shea butter is also incorporated into some of their toilet paper products.
Brief Historical Background
Shea butter is being used since medieval times. In fact, archeologists found evidence of its residues that can be traced back to the 14th century. Shea is an English word that is derived from a tree in Bambara, Mali called shisu or shiyiri. The locals in those regions call shea butter in various names such as Wolof in Senegal, Taama in Waala, Okwuma in Igbo, Ori in some parts of Wes Africa, Kade in Hausa, Kpakhili in Dagbani, etc.
The shea tree is common in the regions of West Africa and especially in the dry Savannah belt which ranges from Sudan to Senegal and in the elevated areas of Ethiopia.
Is Shea Butter for Anti-Aging?
The simple answer is yes. Shea butter has been used for cosmetic purposes for centuries now. Today, we can find shea butter extracts in most beauty and skincare products.
Health experts say that shea butter may significantly increase the production of collagen. This compound depletes as we age. By increasing collagen usage, we slow the aging process and allow us to manage-well age-related issues. It includes conditions like sagging skin, wrinkles, dry skin, hyperpigmentation, and osteoarthritis. Shea butter also contains a potent amount of antioxidants which may also act as an anti-aging agent.
A study on animal subjects was released by the American Journal of Life Sciences, which suggests that shea butter taken orally may indeed improve collagen levels in the body. In another study, 49 participants were requested to apply shea butter on their skin at least twice a day. The results showed signs of preventive effects on certain age-related problems like skin roughness.
One of the many uses of shea butter is as a skin moisturizer that soothes and hydrates the skin on which it’s applied. It can also relieve dry and itchy skin. In one preliminary study, they found out that the symptoms of eczema were reduced when skincare products with shea butter are applied. Its application was three times daily for three weeks. Because of this belief, we can also find traces of shea butter in other cosmetic products such as eye shadows, lipsticks, or lipgloss. It was specially formulated with shea butter that acts as a moisturizing compound that also provides vibrant pigments.
A study published in the American Shea butter Institute says that the application of shea butter regularly on problematic skin areas should improve in four to six weeks.
Shea butter also contains vitamin e, oleic acids, and stearic acids. These compounds are known to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Also, it helps the skin to sustain moisture and giving it a smoother and healthier appearance.
It can also provide other beneficial effects that include anti-inflammatory and wound recovery properties. It contains healthy fatty acids, vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants. One particular research was conducted on mice to test the efficacy of shea butter as an anti-inflammatory agent. It revealed that the mice that were given kernel fats from the shea tree showed significant recovery from the inflammation.
How To Use Shea Butter For Facial Application
For this procedure, it’s recommended to get a cream that contains shea butter which you can easily buy from online merchants. Or you can try searching for the first at your local supermarkets or pharmacy.
You can apply them directly to your face before going to bed or as part of your daily beauty routine. However, applying it in the morning may give you a hard time because the oil compounds in them are difficult to top with makeup.
Others prefer using shea butter and mixing it with other ingredients as a facial mask. For this procedure, thoroughly wash your face first with warm water then use a facial cleanser. If the warm water emits steam, avoid exposing your face to it. This will cause your pores to open temporarily. Thus, it traps pieces of the shea butter compound in your skin leading to acne breakouts.
Potential Health Risks and Side Effects
In general, shea butter is safe and possesses low risks when applied topically. However, it may trigger an allergic reaction in some individuals. Thus, inform your local doctor or any licensed healthcare provider before incorporating this compound into your daily routine.
The other risk that shea butter may have is that it may clog the pores. Thus, this may become problematic especially if you’re prone to acne. Health experts believed that the culprit for this problem is the creamy texture of the shea butter which can be comedogenic.
This particular side effect can be easily managed by mixing shea butter with other ingredients. Then wash it thoroughly afterward.