Overview

Shea butter is fat that has been extracted from shea tree nuts. It’s off-white or ivory colored and has a creamy consistency that’s easy to spread on your skin. Most shea butter comes from shea trees in West Africa.

High concentrations of fatty acids and vitamins make shea butter an ideal cosmetic ingredient for softening skin. Shea butter also has anti-inflammatory and healing properties. Using shea butter on your body, especially your face, can condition, tone, and soothe your skin.

Benefits of shea butter for your face

Anti-inflammatory and healing properties

Shea butter has been proven to have extensive anti-inflammatory properties. Redness and swelling on your face may be calmed by applying shea butter products. Shea butter’s fatty acid and vitamin K concentration also helps your body to heal faster when your skin barrier has been compromised.

Emollient properties

Shea butter’s consistency and semisolid characteristics help your skin to absorb it when it melts at room temperature. The rich tree nut oils in shea butter can soak into your skin, creating a smooth and soft barrier that seals in moisture. This moisturizing effect can last several hours, unlike some other moisturizers that wear off after one hour or less.

Anti-aging properties

Shea butter has high levels of oleic, linoleic, and stearic acids. These acids are an effective ingredient to combating oxidative stress, which is the effect the environmental toxins have on your skin cells. This helps your skin to have a healthy turnover of new cells, and also supports the structure and tightness of your skin. The vitamin E in shea butter also helps protect your skin from the UV rays of the sun, although you can’t skip sunscreen just because you use shea butter on your face.

How to use shea butter on your face

The easiest way to use shea butter for your face is to purchase a cream that includes shea butter from a health food store, pharmacy, or online retailer. Shea butter can be applied directly to your face before you go to sleep. Applying cream with shea butter as part of your skincare routine in the morning might take some getting used to, as the fatty acids and oils in shea butter may make applying makeup on top of it difficult.

You can also make a facial mask using shea butter and several other ingredients. Wash your face first with a cream cleanser or warm water. Don’t expose your face to steam prior to use, as this will open your pores and make the shea butter more likely to get trapped in your skin and cause a breakout.

To make your own mask, mix together:

  • 1 tablespoon of raw honey
  • 3 to 4 drops of grape seed oil
  • 1 tablespoon of pure shea butter

Mix well and spread out over your face. Leave the mask on for 10 to 12 minutes before gently cleansing your face with warm water and a soft washcloth for best results.

Side effects and risks

Shea butter is an incredibly low risk topical ingredient. Allergic reactions to shea butter are rare. Even people who are allergic to tree nuts, the family that shea nuts belong to, have a low risk of reaction to shea butter on their face. Researchers believe this is because shea nuts contain little of the tree nut proteins that trigger allergies.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any risks to using it. The creamy consistency of shea butter means that it can be comedogenic. This means that it can clog pores, especially if you have acne-prone skin. You can manage the risk of this side effect by using shea butter that’s mixed with other ingredients when you use it on your face, and by washing your face well after applying any pure shea butter product.

Takeaway

Shea butter is a proven moisturizer for your skin. It has soothing, anti-aging, and healing properties that make skin appear smoother and younger. Using pure shea butter on your face could lead to breakouts, so try purchasing products that contain shea butter instead of pure shea butter. There are plenty of skincare products, at a variety of price points that contain shea butter as one of the main ingredients.