I'm using 100% organic raw shea butter. I purchased it from a fairtrade site and it was reasonably priced.
It's a great moisturiser after the shower, instantly melts into skin and softens. I can't count on it's effectiveness in terms of stretchmarks etc as I've only been using it for about two weeks and can't really comment further other than its a good moisturiser.
I wouldn't use it on my face. It's pretty greasy and the few times I tried it on my face it made my skin too shiny and break out. I wouldn't use it on my hair either! It would probably leave an awful residue 'feeling' making it feel quite greasy too.
I have been using raw shea butter for almost 2 years now and I love it! I have an 8 year old with severe eczema. He is very sensitive to lotions and creams (we've tried EVERYTHING) so I decided to try something simple and natural, shea butter. The scent does not bother me because it fades. Occasionally I whip the shea butter with olive oil, aloe vera, tea tree oil, and almond oil with a handmixer and it works wonders for my son! Word of advice: if you are using it for eczema pair it with a raw shea butter soap for best results. I use Shea Moistures raw shea butter bar soap and it's amazing!
I also use raw shea butter for myself mixed with baby oil and/or equal amount of cocoa butter (not raw, palmers) and I love the results. As many said it also makes a great nightime moisturizer/eye cream. I don't use it on my face during the day because I get oil (which is why I gave it a 4) but at night, it's nothing but perfection!
Shea butter is amazing! Great all purpose moisturizer. But what I use it for the most, believe it or not, is eye cream! My eye area is really sensitive and even the most expensive eye creams irritate it and make it look worse. Not shea butter! I know I can count on it to keep my eye area supple, moisturized and wrinkle free! The trick is to warm it up in your hand before applying otherwise you are just dragging it across your skin. And not only is it completely natural, but also cheap and cheerful!! Yay, thumbs up!
I love this stuff. I got a 16 oz jar of Shea Butter last year while visiting Atlanta, and I still have half of it left. I use it when I get out of the shower on the bottom of my feet to keep them soft and callus free. If my hair is dull/dry, I use a dime sized amount on the ends of my hair. Only a small amount is needed to achieve the amount of moisture that my skin and hair needs. I don't use this as a lotion, since I have sensitive skin and sometimes, this makes my skin itch. Others use this product to define their natural curly hair texture. If you have natural hair, this is a must have.
Shea Butter has many uses but the one thing I love it for is a night-time moisturizer! You only need a tiny bit and it leaves my skin feeling so hydrated and smooth. It doesn't break me out and my skin feels like silk when I wake up the next morning. It's great for fine lines and preventing those wrinkles too. I occasionally use it on my hair mixed with some olive oil and my hair is left feeling like satin after washing, but it can be somewhat difficult to wash out. Also great for rashes, mosquito bites, eczema, dry patches of skin, nail cuticle cream. I pay about £10 for a chunk of pure unrefined shea butter and it lasts me for the entire year.
I use this as a night-time moisturizer after cleansing for my normal/combo skin and it works really well...so hydrating without feeling heavy or sticky (unless you apply too much). Leaves my skin so soft and supple when I wake up in the morning. I have very breakout-prone sensitive skin and pure unrefined shea butter does *not* irritate it. Just take a small bit, rub it between your fingers until it melts and pat on the face, then gently it out, blending it in. The smell doesn't bother me, it's quite a nice nutty smell.
I also use it as a hair mask once a month by mixing it with manuka honey, olive and coconut oil. Leaves my hair amazingly soft and silky and shiny. I put it on dry hair and leave it on for about 3 hours before rinsing off.
I used organic unrefined ivory (as opposed to yellow) shea butter as a night-time moisturizer for three days, and on the morning of the third day, I noticed I had quite a bit of cystic acne brewing under the surface. Nothing else in my routine changed, and I never have cystic acne. I considered this might be a "purge" period, similar to using the Oil Cleansing Method, but I have no patience for a purge period right now.
I will never put shea butter on my face again! However, I recommend it because it's worth a shot. I believe everyone's skin is different, and shea butter might be a miracle worker on someone else's skin. I also lovely the natural, nutty, smoky smell of shea butter.
Shea butter is wonderful night-time body moisturizer though, especially on my dry heels. I will continue to repurchase for that. I haven't tried it on my hair.
Also, I use shea butter as an ingredient for my handmade, all-natural soaps, and it makes my soaps feel very moisturizing, so I will always continue to purchase shea butter.
Shea butter is a staple in my skincare routine. I love the stuff and refuse to be without it. It doesn't work as well in my hair but some women swear by it. It's very moisturizing and soothing after I wash my face. I simply take a small amount, rub it between my hands and smooth on to my face. I've been doing this for years. My face is always so soft and toned. SOmetimes I get a batch that has a bit of a strong smell, other times I don't. If you get the container that smells weird, just remember that the scent fades away after a few minutes upon application. A little goes a long way.
When I made the switch to natural skincare I thought my skin could not absorb oils very well, and that I could never use them alone as a moisturiser.
However this all changed when I found an article about creams on the internet and read that a moisturiser is a combination of oil and water (and an emulsifier to stop separation) and therefore my skin was only missing the hydration/water element of a moisturiser (and not the conditioning element that comes from the type of oil used).
So I decided to experiment with using an oil and some water in a spray bottle. This provides my skin both with the correct amount of moisturisation (meaning my skin got hydration AND conditioning). This allowed me to experiment with oil and hydrosols to find my perfect moisturiser.
For me, at night time, raw shea butter is the best moisturiser for my dry, oily, and acne-prone combination skin. It provides an excellent amount of moisture if combined with a hydrosol, or just plain water.
I take a 50p size amount and melt it between my hands. This melting step is very important as I find that unmelted butter can drag the skin too much, creating unneccesary irritation. I then distribute it and massgae gently into my face, starting with my dryest areas first and TOTALLY avoiding the eye area. I do the eye area separately as find I need more product in this area and going back afterwards is an easier way to distribute the correct amount of butter I need! I treat it like a separate eye cream.
After it is all distributed, I generally then liberally spray my face with water (or a hydrosol like rose water) and GENTLY massgae the oil in further until the water is absorbed.
I personally love the smell of my 100% raw shea butter (I think it smells deeply woody, nutty and natural). But I can see how the scent might be offensive to those more used to synthetic fragrances. I am allergic to many of those, and so it is a relief to smell something so natural.
It is, in my opinion, much better value for money than normal moisturisers as you experience a higher concerntration of this great ingredient than you would if it was included in high end creams etc.. It also lasts for absolutely ages too. I have had a 250g pot of shea butter from Akoma Skincare for almost 3 years now and its still going strong!
The only disadvantages is that it is a slightly longer process then using a cream to moisturise- but the superior moisturising powers and fact it doesn't break me out and seems to stop the annoying dry pimple patches I can get, means that this far outweighs this disadvantage.
I would not advise this oil/butter for use under makeup as it leaves a protective layer over the skin which takes about 4-5 hours to sink in! It is a great alternative to vaseline if you hike in really cold places though. Or just if you walk regualry in the winter, as this layer stops that raw wind-bitten feel your face can get.
I often use this as a lip balm too. I often get really dry cracked lips in the winter, and one application of shea butter overnight helps soothe and almost magically heals them.
Its also great on dry skin on the body too- especially cracked heels! I did at one point use this on my keratosis pilaris on my arms, (which did work well), but I prefer to use Extra Virgin Coconut Oil there now.
So, all in all an absolutly fantastic product for dry skin. Although my skin is acne prone, this may be too heavy for some acne prone skins, so I would advise a patch test first or diluting it with another oil- eg: jojoba or coconut- both great acne oils too.
I wanted very much to like unrefined shea butter but just can't get into it. I try to use minimally-processed products with as few synthetic components as possible and often use simple products (sugar, honey, rice bran/avocado/macadamia oil on my skin, coconut/olive/avocado oil, egg on my hair, etc.) so I was excited to try this. I have chronically dry skin and had high hopes that the shea butter would remedy this issue. As many other reviewers noted, unrefined shea butter has a strong rancid scent that I couldn't cover up with essential oils. The butter felt very heavy and greasy on my skin, and I felt like it was doing a good moisturizing job. But other than when it was actually on my skin (leaving oil stains on everything I touched), it didn't have any effect. As soon as it sank in, wore off, or was washed off, my skin was just as dry as ever. I tried this on my hair and didn't notice any particularly positive or negative effect; I'll probably go back to coconut/avocado/olive oil.