We love shea butter at Balmonds! We use unrefined, fairly-traded shea produced by women’s collectives in Burkina Faso in both our cream moisturisers - the fabulously rich Intensive Hand Cream and our lush Daily Moisturising Cream.
Known in Africa as ‘women’s gold’, shea is a fantastic natural resource that has benefits for the earth as well as its farmers. Our shea butter is ethically-sourced, ecologically sound and extracted using traditional methods from shea nuts - but how can it help your skin?
In this blog we look at the benefits of shea butter, and discover how using it in skincare products can help keep skin in good, soft, healthy condition, especially if prone to eczema, dermatitis and other chronic dry skin conditions.
What is shea butter?
Shea butter is the edible creamy substance extracted from the nuts of the African shea tree. When it’s pounded up it becomes a buttery, natural moisturiser, and has been used for centuries to condition skin and hair as well as in cooking, to make soaps, traditional medicines and even to light lamps.
Why is it good for your skin?
Even in its raw state, shea butter makes a great moisturiser because it melts at body temperature, meaning it’s lovely and soft, and easily absorbed when massaged into the skin.
Not only that, but the fats it’s made up of are excellent at locking in moisture, keeping the skin cells in good, plump, healthy condition; without water, skin cells are fragile and easily damaged. Studies have shown that it is better than mineral oil at preventing transepidermal water loss and that its moisturising effect lasts up to eight hours.
The fatty substances in shea butter also act as if it were they were the body’s own natural fats, which the epidermis needs to make the skin barrier work as a protective layer between us and the world, keeping water in and keeping allergens and infection out. Spreading a fine layer of shea over the skin works as a protective physical barrier.
Shea butter is packed full of skin nourishing vitamins, fats and other nutrients which are responsible for its anti-inflammatory, anti-ageing, anti-sun damage properties. It is especially rich in Vitamins A and E, which have been found to be really good in supporting the repair of skin damaged either by the sun or pollution. It’s also rich in essential fatty acids which the skin needs to regenerate itself.
Why is shea so good for eczema?
Shea butter’s skin-soothing, anti-inflammatory and damage repairing properties are why shea butter particularly good for those prone to eczema, dermatitis or other chronic dry skin conditions; it’s not just a moisturiser but actively feeds the skin with the things it needs to keep itself in good condition. For those with problem skin, shea butter is a wonderful weapon against dryness and damage.
And for those who are allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, there’s good evidence to suggest that shea nut butter is far less likely to cause allergic reactions than other tree nuts or peanuts.* However, as with any new skin product on sensitive skin, we always recommend a patch test before widespread use.
*Scientific investigations have found that refined shea nut butter does not pose any known or likely allergy risk to consumers, including those with peanut or tree nut allergies… The US-based Food Allergy Research and Resource Programme (FARRP) conducted a thorough search of the medical literature and stated in August 2016 that that no cases of allergy to shea nut or shea nut butter had ever been reported in the medical literature. https://www.anaphylaxis.org.uk/knowledgebase/shea-nuts/