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.
I melt this down and mix with avocado oil and whatever essential oils I have. Then, I put it all over my hair and scalp, and leave it in as long as possible. Love love love it. Takes a couple washings to get out, but my hair is always full of volume and really soft after I use it.
I also use this on my body and occasionally, my face.
Melt shea down slowly, or it will become grainy. I use a double boiler on the stove top, then add other oils once off the burner.
Totally worth the effort!
I use unrefined shea butter on my hands and feet- its the first moisturizer I've used that has actually stopped the cracks I get on the sides of my fingers in winter! I also use it on my legs, if they are feeling really dry. I love the fact its called 'women's gold' because its such an important source of income for the women who harvest it in Africa.
I've found the trick is to scoop up a bit onto your fingers (you don't need much- a pea sized amount does both feet) and then wet you hands, and rub the butter between your palms until it warms up and melts. Then apply where needed. I think the fats in the butter help trap the water where it's needed.
Edit: after using this for a while, I noticed that this seemed to be making my skin drier! I think I need more hydrating products, but this is OK as a 'sealant'
Another HG! Finally I can go all natural with my hair (except the color ;-). It's unbelievable how awesome shea butter is! I've been hesitant to try it - while most conditioners aren't strong enough, I just pictured the shea butter turning it into greasy strings, since it really is an oil, after all. It really does only take the tiniest bit (this from someone who goes through conditioner by the gallon normally). Maybe a dime-size piece? Warm it up in my hands and spread it through the ends and that's it. It drinks it up like crazy and after only 3 days, my hair already looks healthier than it has in weeks, even though it really needs a cut/color. It really brings out the natural curl. And it is so soft, and no tangles! Can't stop running my hands through it. There doesn't seem to be any buildup either, which is surprising since that's always the main problem for me with the CO method. I also switched (at the same time) to the Chagrin Valley Shampoo bars, which you must try if you want to go natural. I am concerned about if this combo is going to strip my color after it's done again (Flame red, which is a nightmare to maintain already), but the results are so good that it's worth trying just to see. I'm tossing all my other hair products, I don't need them anymore. I might just switch to another color if I have to, it's that good.