Hair Advice at Your Fingertips!

How to use shea butter for hair?

Is shea butter good for hair?

There is a world of sources on the Web recommending shea butter for hair treatment, especially when it comes to naturally curly girls. Today, we are going to explore its true values for various hair types and explain how to select the best shea butter for hair among multiple available options.

What Is Shea Butter? What Shea Butter Is Used for Hair?

African shea butter is derived from the fruit of a Vitellaria paradoxa tree. The fruits contain fat-rich kernels, which are ground, roasted, and boiled to produce a kind of foam collected from the water surface. When cooled down, the foam becomes what we know as raw shea butter. Then it can be filtered in various ways to remove the smoky smell, latex, excessive water, and impurities. As a result, we get a quite solid substance colored from white to yellow and melting well when it’s warmed up.

Unrefined shea is considered the best choice for hair care, as it retains the maximum of its bioactive agents. If you want to purchase high-quality pure shea butter for hair, look for the A-grade label. You can also identify the natural butter by beige color, specific nutty smell, and creamy texture (resembling soft butter) at room temperature.

However, when looking for a moisturizing effect only, one can avail even of snow-white shea butter for hair – it is likely processed to get a nicer look and smell but can be deprived of some healing properties. Nevertheless, lightly refined organic shea butter (B grade) is also suitable for hair treatment since it is cultivated and processed with no chemicals.

The word “shea” comes from the tree’s name in Bambara (the national language of Mali). However, there exist many other names of this fat. For example, you may have heard the words “ori” (shea butter is called so in Yoruba language, and in some parts of West Africa), and “karite” (in the Wolof language of Senegal the tree is called ghariti, “karite” is also the origin of the French name of this tree and the butter itself).

Shea Butter Benefits for Hair

So, what does shea butter do for your hair?

– Shea butter for hair growth

No, there aren’t any clinical trials on this topic specifically, so we can figure out the butter’s benefits for hair growth only based on its content and studies covering other areas of its application. The butter is packed with various fatty acids, vitamins A and E, calcium, sodium, iron, magnesium, and zinc, which makes it pretty nutritious. Moreover, triterpenes in this fat trigger collagen production while antioxidants protect our tresses from weakening. This allows us to recommend shea butter for hair breakage prevention and promotion of better hair growth.

– Hydration and softening

Having plenty of unsaponifiables, this herb fat boasts nice water-binding properties coupled with an emollient effect. It reads purchase shea butter for damaged hair, split ends, coarse strands, and dry locks. It is also smart to use shea butter for natural hair if one wants to tame the frizz.

– Shea butter on scalp

Thanks to amyrin, the butter shows anti-inflammatory activity to improve scalp conditions and promote a healthier environment for hair growth. Actually, we can add other skin-related benefits – wound healing or dandruff fighting, for example.

Although hair experts often prescribe shea butter for curly hair, mind your natural sebum production – if your scalp is oily enough and not itchy, apply the butter only on your hair, not scalp. All in all, it’s better to use shea butter for high porosity hair, as this allows sealing the raised cuticle. However, you can adopt shea butter for low porosity hair as well if focusing on the tips.

Shea Butter Recipes for Hair

Shea allows for many uses – as a conditioner, mask, styling product, and moisturizer. At the very least, you can warm up a dab of the butter in your hands and rub it into the scalp, spread it throughout your locks, or put it onto the ends. If your tresses are super dry, you can just leave shea butter in hair overnight. However, we can get the best shea butter mix for natural hair when combining this remedy with other ingredients in a customized homemade recipe.

As it was already mentioned, shea butter comes with a rather dense texture, which makes it tricky to add it to a DIY mix for hair growth, conditioning, or other application. So, you need to know how to mix it with other ingredients – yes, we are talking about whipped shea butter for hair. You will need to pick the best oil to mix with shea butter for hair of your type, for example, thicker oil for African American hair or lighter one for fine locks.

Here is a basic whipped shea butter recipe for natural hair:

– scoop a couple of tablespoons of shea butter into a metal bowl;

– put it into a pot of boiled water (or use a double boiler), and let the butter melt, stirring occasionally;

– add a tablespoon of coconut oil and mix the oils a little;

– start whipping the shea butter and coconut oil until they get a fluffy texture and increase in the volume twice.

While carrier oils will prevent the butter from hardening, mixing shea butter and essential oils for hair is also good. The latter ones will mask the butter’s specific aroma and bring additional benefits into a shea butter mask for hair. For example, mix honey, coconut oil, and shea butter with lavender oil for boosting hair growth or combine aloe vera, coconut oil, and shea butter with tea tree oil for better lubrication.

Shea Butter Hair Products

If you don’t want to tinker with boiling and mixing, go for store-bought shea butter products for natural hair:

– Plenty of brands use shea butter for hair shampoo products to prevent the loss of natural oil.

– Shea butter conditioner will smooth strands and lock in moisture.

– Shea butter cream is a great styling product to manage frizz and flyaways while adding shine.

– Shea butter heat protectant will eliminate damage caused by hot tools.

– Sunscreen with the butter will ensure mild SPF protection.

– Shea butter relaxer for hair will deliver a healthier look upon processing.

How Long Does It Take for Shea Butter to Work?

The result depends on many factors, starting from your current hair condition and up to the frequency of use (but less is often more, mind you).

Some can see the effect after just one use, other girls need to wait several weeks to notice the before-after difference.

When considering shea butter for hair hydration, growth, or frizz management, remember that it leaves a film on your strands thus making it difficult for your hair to get moisture from the atmosphere. So, don’t go overboard and take into account your hair texture.

Featured Image: freepik.com

by Donna Sullivan
Donna is a hairstylist with 8 years of experience. Ask her about any hair-related problem (haircuts, hairstyles, colorings, hair care) and get a pro advice!