Shea Butter for Skin, Benefits, Uses, Recipes

Shea Butter for Skin
Shea Butter for Skin

Is Shea butter good for skin? What are the benefits of using shea butter for skin? Can Shea butter lighten your skin? Here are answers to this and more on how to use Shea butter for skincare.

If you are an everyday skincare product user you probably have come across Shea butter as a product. It is commonly used as an ingredient in most if not all skincare products. Over the century’s Shea butter was used in Africa as a skin and hair product. It was used for skin healing and food preparation. Recently, it has become increasing popular because of its naturally high nutrients and skin beneficial properties making it even more popular ingredients in cosmetics, conditioners, lotions or even shampoos, etc.

In this modern times, Shea butter is usually used for both skins and hair, but I will be focusing only on the skin product parts, discussing its benefits, uses, types, the differences between types, demerits and merits of the types i.e. not all Shea butter products are the same.

Shea Butter for Skin.
Shea Butter for Skin.

What is Shea Butter?

Shea butter is a solid fatty, slightly yellowish oil with smoky like scents extracted from nuts of a Karite tree (Butyrospermum Parkii) found in the wild savannah parts of western Africa. The nuts resemble the chestnuts but are rather large. They are dried, crushed, boiled and maneuvered to produce the butter.

The butter derived from the Shea nuts is naturally rich in Vitamin A, E, and F, thus when used it provides the skin with nutrients necessary for collagen, cinnamon acid, and essential fatty acid production; giving it the properties to sooth dry skin and also protects the skin from UV lights.

The butter remains in its solid fatty oil state at room temperature, and when put on your skin it melts from your body’s heat into your skin. Natural Shea butter is edible; a reason why it was a good product for food preparation in Africa, but now it’s mostly used around the world for skin and hair benefits.

Types of Shea Butter for Skin

The distinct types of Shea butter are brought on by the different ways in its production; this means that to get the different types you need to know how Shea butter is processed.

In a standard case, the first thing they do after they get the nuts is dry them up.  After that the harder shell of the nuts are removed then the flesh inside the shell removed nuts are crushed and later on roasted.  After roasting it’s then boiled in water then the Shea butter floating on the water is scooped off the water.

The difference comes in when there is further processing of the Shea butter hence the names refined, and ultra-refined come in. The extra processing is done to filter and remove impurities, change the color, scent, and composition. However, this doesn’t necessary mean they make the butter better; in fact, after refining the Shea better loses some of its natural properties and qualities that make it best for the skin use.

Raw Shea Butter

Raw Shea butter is unrefined and unfiltered; there are no deodorizing, bleaching or additives used in it. This means that it comes as natural as it is when scooped from the boiled water, so comes with flecks of impurities and is often has a yellow- greenish color. Raw Shea butter comes as a paste in a jar or tub.

Raw vs Refined Shea Butter
Raw vs Refined Shea Butter

Unrefined Shea Butter

When we talk of unrefined Shea butter, it is raw Shea butter that has been filtered without affecting fresh butter’s core properties and quality. The way of filtering is by use of cheesecloth but if possible other means could be employed but still the quality shouldn’t be affected. Unlike raw Shea butter, unrefined ones can be melted and poured into molds to be bars or sticks.

Refined Shea Butter

This is when Shea butter has undergone a manufacturer type of process where there is a process that is used to change its natural properties “its characteristics” and its smell. The process may involve bleaching, deodorization, or chemical addition.

It results to change in the scent of the butter; it becomes smoother and whites a little. Although this process makes the Shea butter smell better, look better and have a decent fill on our skin it loses some of the nutrients and properties. Hence it lessens its effectiveness.  Some of the additives are for preservation and scent change.

Ultra-Refined Shea Butter

Ultra Refined Shea Butter
Ultra Refined Shea Butter

Ultra-Refined Shea Butter is a more advanced level of refining. It includes large mechanical plants which use chemicals e.g. hexane in breaking done the seeds speeding the whole process of Shea butter production. Same as refined there are additives, but the filtration process is at list twice which changes the butter’s composition more that of raw, unrefined or refines Shea butter. The end product is white in color and usually soft. It’s considered as the least healthy of the four and is mostly used for skin moisturizing.

Raw or unrefined Shea butter are classified as of the same class in terms quality which is different from unrefined and ultra-unrefined. The main difference between the two classifications comes in the loss of quality and the change in texture that’s brought on by the refining process. 


Raw and Unrefined Shea Butter


  • Very reasonable in price
  • Can be used in small portions
  • They have high nutrient properties
  • Free of chemicals and other additives
  • Can last for a year without preservatives
  • Better and higher natural healing properties


  • The have the usual smoky like smell, which fades away after a few minutes after applied. So it should not be too much a problem.
  • Some say it’s not good to use it in day time because it takes a lot of time before it sinks in
  • They don’t come in many forms only mostly bar and sticks are the best forms
  • They aren’t pleasant to the human skin because of the rough texture

Refined and Ultra-Refined Shea Butter


  • They have a sweet smell mostly because of the scent additive
  • They are more soft and delicate filling to human skin
  • The can come in many forms e.g. as shampoo, lotion or bars, etc.


  • Expensive
  • Shea butter natural healing properties are lost during processing
  • Losses some if not all nutrients
  • May sometimes contain harmful chemicals or toxic additives

When it comes to what type of Shea butter I would prefer, I will go with the raw or unrefined kind because they bring more benefits regarding skin health and achieve better, natural and quality skin with minimal effort when compared to refined and ultra-refined products.

Benefits of Shea Butter for Skin

Benefits of Shea Butter for Skin
Benefits of Shea Butter for Skin


Shea butter is loaded with natural vitamins and fatty acid thus when applied the Shea butter can penetrate the skin nourishing and moisturizing it. It’s a very beneficial daily skin moisturizer for both face and body with an ability to do all this without making your skin fill greasy.  It also shields the skin’s natural oils and remedies dry skin, helping the skin to look natural and have an awesome glow to it.

Shea Butter Healing Qualities

Shea butter can benefit the human skin with healing qualities; these properties including plant sterols like stearic, oleic or palmitic acids and fatty acids help diminish stretch marks, Insect Bites, scars, cellulite, minor burns, skin wounds, skin rashes, and other skin issues e.g. fine lines and wrinkles. Raw or unrefined natural Shea butter is the one that has all the above qualities even if used in small portions.

Shea butter for moisturizing skin
Shea butter for moisturizing skin

It Reduces Skin Inflammation

It has various derivatives of cinnamic acid and other natural properties which act as anti –inflammatory and normalizes the skin into its normal condition; hence, helping prevent further skin irritation or damage.

Raw or Unrefined Shea Butter for Sunburn, Dead Skin Cell, Wind Burn or Winter Dry Skin

Shea Butter when applied offers moisturizing benefits that help prevent windburns; it also provides extra nutrients and moisture which are awesome in eliminating itchy winter skin and is useful during the cold, dry weather.  The same qualities help it get rid of dead skin cells and smoothen cracked dry heels, rough elbows, knees plus and hands

UV Protection

It acts a natural sunscreen, and a offers low-grade UV protection. With a rise in commercial sunscreen products that have harmful and toxic chemicals in them. Shea butter can be a better substitute, and with its antioxidant properties will be helpful in ultraviolet radiation protection; thus, you will be in better hands during the summer.

Shea Butter for Skin Lightening

Can shea butter lighten your skin?

Soothing, Smoothing skin and restoring skin elasticity

Shea butter also has vitamin F and non-saponifiable matter which are vital ingredients in softening, strengthening and maintaining skin elasticity. Hence, preventing the skin from drying out and ensuring your skin tone remains normal, the skin strength is firm, the skin is soft, hydrated and thus reducing wrinkles, scars, and marks.

Provides anti- aging properties

Recently studies have shown that Shea has tissue cell regeneration properties plus the boost of collagen production, smoothing and restoring skin elasticity comes out a benefactor with anti-aging qualities.

Antioxidant benefits

With antioxidants such as catechins, cinnamic acid vitamins A and E, the skin benefits from protection from ultraviolet radiation, free radicals, and environmental damage.

Uses of Shea Butter for Skin

  • If you are looking for a smooth shave you can go with Shea butter instead of your usual shaving cream; Shea butter leaves your skin soft, silky and prevents bumps after shaving.
  • Because of its healing, cell regeneration, smoothing, soothing and skin moisturizing benefits Shea butter can be used as a baby care products and ingredients for baby care products, for eliminating diaper rashes and healing eczema.
  • With benefits for preventing dry winter skin and getting rid of dead skin, Shea butter will help with the lips protecting and soothing your lips during the dry and cold weather. Later on, you will come to find out it’s better that an average lip balm
  • It can be used to quell the swelling and ditch the itch from insect bites.
  • You can also use it to repair cracked heels, cuticles and softening calluses on the feet.
  • You can also use it to fade sketch marks either from pregnancy or any other reason
  • Can also be used as massage butter
  • Helps shoot skin after exposure to heat or cold
  • Can be utilized on row noses during the flu season thus helping clear nasal congestion

Who Should Use Shea Butter?

Anybody can use Shea butter; from babies, young children to seniors it helps all kinds of skin problems that one can come across at all ages.  It will help with minor skin injuries as well as help give the person using it a softer, healthier and better-looking skin.

Shea Butter for Skin Recipes

There are several recipes that people have come up with of mixing Shea butter with other natural ingredients to create improved, upgraded butter. I will give you two examples that have worked wonders for me.

Procedure 1


  • Half a cup of coconut oil
  • One cup of organic raw or unrefined Shea butter
  • Half a cup of almond liquid


  • Put the coconut oil and Shea butter “both are solid” in a boiler and let them melt
  • After melting mix them appropriately then let them cool for 25-35 minutes
  • Put the almond liquid in the mixture and stir the put the now mixture into freezer and weight to partially solidify. After this, it would be ready for use.

Store in a cool, dry place

Procedure 2


  • One teaspoon of vitamin E oil
  • One cup of raw Shea butter
  • Few drops of almond oil
  • 3 ounces of virgin olive oil


  • Heat the raw Shea slowly into a semi-melted lava-like texture in bowl or boiler
  • Add the virgin olive oil and vitamin E oil then stir
  • Put the bowl in the fridge for five minutes and weight till its partially solid
  • After that add some free drops of the almond oil, and then it would be ready to use
  • Store in a cool, dry place

To make a home lip balm:

  1. Mix a teaspoon of Shea butter with a tablespoon of olive oil
  2. Add 3/4 tablespoon of lanolin

Where to Buy Shea butter for Skin?

You can find unrefined organic Shea butter online on sites like Amazon, Adwi Organics, eBay or butters-n-bars.  You can also purchase the products in natural herbal shops around your area if you want the raw or unrefined Shea butter or you can buy in local stores around your area.

Price ranges from $4.97 for 8 Oz. $6.72 for 7.25 Oz. of raw Shea butter depending on the company of production.

Storage and Expiration

Can be used for within 17 months of extraction

  • Store in a cool, and dry place you can refrigerate, but it will become firmer.
  • If you do mix the butter, you need to use it before 30 days are over. The expiration time frame after mixing depends on the ingredients you used in the mixing.
  • Always keep it covered and prevent it from exposure to direct sunlight and air.
  • With time the beneficial properties wear-down, meaning that the Shea butter will not have the same effects as from the beginning, that’s why is essential to store the Shea butter efficiently and avoid it losing its quality quicker than usual.

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