Shea Butter For Hair
Shea butter has been treasured for its beautifying properties for years and it can do wonders not just for your skin but also for your hair. Its softening and nourishing properties have earned it the name ‘mother nature's conditioner’.
What is Shea Butter?
Shea butter is an ultra-moisturising ingredient that is extracted from the nuts of the Shea tree. Native to West Africa, it is ivory in colour in its raw form and is packed with vitamins and fatty acids that make it the perfect ingredient for your hair. The white colour you often see in shea products is the result of processing.
Making shea butter is a tedious process. Once the outer shells are removed, they are then crushed and roasted. After the butter is formed, it is kneaded to separate the fatty acids or the oils. These oils are kept aside and cooled to make shea butter.
Shea butter contains vitamins A, E, and F and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is rich in linoleic, oleic, and stearic acid. In fact, it is said to contain 30 – 50% of stearic acid, which gives it a composition that is almost equal to animal fat. This is what makes it act like a ‘refatting’ agent that can moisturise your hair and be absorbed by it to go deep within and heal your strands.
Benefits of Shea Butter For Hair
From soothing frizzy strands to nourishing dry, parched locks, shea butter is an ingredient you must add to your hair care routine. While it can work with all hair types, it is best suited for dry, damaged hair that requires heavy hydration. For such hair, shea butter is ideal, but it might make oily strands even more limp and weigh them down further. When dealing with this hair type, use just a little bit and only on the ends of your hair.
Shea butter has multiple benefits for hair and here’s why you should use shea butter for your hair.
- Did you know that the health of your hair depends to a large extent on your scalp and not just on your strands? Shea butter can help keep your scalp healthy by reducing any inflammation and irritation.
- Toxins in the environment can harm your hair follicles. The sun too can damage not just your skin but also your hair. Shea butter contains natural SPF to help avoid damage from the sun’s rays. In this way, the soothing, healing properties of shea butter can protect both your scalp and hair from such environmental damage.
- Shea butter can be a miracle cure for frizz and flyaway hair by helping to tame and keep your hair manageable.
- It can provide intense moisture to dry, damaged hair.
- It can reduce dandruff and keep your scalp comfortable.
- A unique property shea butter has is that it doesn’t just stay on the surface of your strands when it is applied. Instead, it is absorbed by your hair and in this way, can protect it from intense heat given out by any styling tools.
- It can strengthen your strands, and seal split ends, and help mend the damage caused by split ends.
- Packed with the powerful antioxidant, vitamin E, shea butter can fight free-radical damage and protect your hair from its effects.
How To Use Shea Butter For Hair
If the benefits above have convinced you to use shea butter for hair, here is how you can use this ingredient in your routine:
- Try a shea butter mask for hair to hydrate and nourish. Scoop out some shea butter and warm it between your hands before applying it along your entire hair shaft. If you have an oily scalp and thin hair, then only apply the shea butter from mid-shaft. For the ultimate treat, leave the shea butter overnight to really allow it to work its magic on your hair. Wash off in the morning with a moisturising shea butter shampoo followed by a shea butter conditioner to continue to give your strands the TLC they deserve. If you cannot leave it in your hair the whole night, then amp up your treatment by wrapping your hair in a hot towel after applying the shea butter. Leave it on for 30 to 60 minutes before washing off to intensely hydrate your hair.
- A shea butter cream is the best way to help hair that is troubled by split ends. Simply apply it to the ends of your hair, where it will act like a conditioner and coat your strands making them look and feel healthy.
- If you have an itchy, troubled scalp, warm up a bit of shea butter in a bowl and apply it into your scalp gently massaging it in circular movements for ten minutes before washing it off.
- Apply shea butter or a cream containing shea butter for hair to your locks after conditioning them and before you use hair tongs or a blow dryer or any heat appliances to protect your strands. Apart from protecting from heat damage, shea butter is an occlusive material, which means that it traps the water and moisture into your hair. This reduces frizz and makes your hair shine with health and vitality.
- You can make a DIY hair mask for a weekly indulgence by melting shea butter and coconut or any other carrier oil together either on the stove or in a microwave. Once cool, whip it with a hand blender till you get a creamy, frothy, buttery mixture to apply as a hair mask. You can add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to this mixture too. Store it in a glass bottle in a cool, dark place if you want to whip up a batch in advance. Avoid refrigerating it though as this can cause it to become grainy, which would make it difficult to get out of your hair.
There you have it, shea butter for hair can be the best ingredient to transform your locks into healthy, gleaming strands that turn heads wherever you go.
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Dr. Jaspreet Sarna, M.D
Dr. Sarna is an MD (Skin & VD) with a decade-long experience in treating hair loss and working on hair regrowth. She believes stress management is the key to good health.