Shea butter is fat that’s 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.
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.
Shea butter has also been reported to have anti-aging properties. If true, the exact mechanism isn’t well-known and may be related to promoting collagen production or decreasing the breakdown of collagen that’s already present.
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. 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.
To make your own mask, mix together:
- 1 tbsp of raw honey
- 3 to 4 drops of grapeseed oil
- 1 tbsp 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.
Take care with these facial masks as it may promote acne if you are prone to it.
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. Given the consistency of shea butter, it’s likely to be comedogenic.
Some websites on the internet claim that shea butter is non-comedogenic or has a “low comedogenic rating.” It’s not clear where this evidence is derived from since there are no available studies to support this claim.
The American Academy of Dermatology supports the idea that shea butter can clog your pores and cause acne. This is especially true if you have acne-prone skin.
Shea butter is a proven moisturizer for your skin. There are plenty of skincare products, at a variety of price points that contain shea butter as one of the main ingredients.
Shea butter has soothing and anti-aging properties that may make skin appear smoother and reduce aging.
However, pure shea butter on your face could lead to breakouts. Even using some products that just contain a smaller percentage of shea butter may lead to acne.
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