Wonderful stuff. Well, except for the smell which is awful. It reminds me of the smell of livestock somehow. But it does fade and honestly, unless I stick it right under my nose now I don't really notice. Still, I plan on mixing in some lavender oil at some point, and next time I buy this (and I will be buying this again!) I'll probably get one that already comes scented.
It's still hard for me to believe, but unrefined shea butter has been great for my face and has not caused ANY breakouts. I melt a little on my fingertips and use it as an undereye cream after my retinol in the evenings, and under my moisturizer and sunscreen in the mornings. It can be a little shiny and, depending on how much I use, may never soak in completely, but I actually like the highlighter effect and love the supple rich feel. My eye area, which is starting to develop fine little smile lines, has become plumper and bounces back faster since I started using shea.
I also dab a layer on any zits after applying my benzoyl peroxide cream and, amazingly for something so rich and oily feeling, it actually seems to help them heal. Using shea, the redness is often less to begin with and the leftover marks definitely fade faster (marks from past breakouts tend to last on my fair skin for months and months, if not longer). Everyone's skin is different so I'd start off cautiously with this on your face, but this has been a wonderful find for me.
Last but not least, I've used this on scratches, bruises and other small wounds and it seems to help with healing and reduced scarring. If nothing else, the rich protective moisture promotes whatever healing is going on anyways and makes it feel better. I have noticed that when I use this on a larger area, like my knee, after it's soaked in the skin there is unbelievably soft and pliant. Not silky smooth, not greasy, not dry, just... really really soft. I hesitate to use this as an allover moisturizer though, because I don't think I could stand the smell and I wouldn't be able to sit or touch anything for several hours...! I may try it someday though if I'm staying in with nothing else to do for an evening.
Anways, shea butter really works. On top of that, I love that it's so natural and simple.
I love unrefined shea butter!! I use it in my hair (mixed with olive oil or vitamin E oil) as a deep conditioner, on my face when I need extra moisture, and on sunburns. My fiance and I went to Maui earlier this year and he was badly burnt. I applied a generous amount of unrefined shea butter to his burned areas and it healed beautifully! He didn't peel and his redness slowly faded away. I will continue using this product for a very long time!
Last year it worked amazingly on my hair mixed with olive oil and a little coconut oil. Alone the smell is horrible, ti doesn't fade enough so that when you sweat you can't smell it and it also dries out the skin.
My face and body skin hates it. It leaves it parched and has the same effect as using Vasaline or some other petroleum based thick greasy product. My hair can take it if I use just a tiny bit mixed with a lot fo something else but really the whole stench of it isn't worth the bother.
I bought mine from the muslim store where they sell tubs for $3-5.
1 YEAR UPDATE:
Recently something terrible happened and I lost a lot fo hair, afraid ot put anything else but natural products on my hair I went bach to this, mixing 1 part shea butter to 2 parts loive oil, 2 parts castor oil and 1 part pure coconut oil and ran it through my hair after deep conditioning with Parnevu Organic Hair Mayonnaise. It seems that depending on what you mix it with the smell is either really strong and lingering or weak. This time I used all other products besides the Parnevu and shea butter (still getting it from the muslim store) from Whole Foods and none of they seemed to cancel out the shea butter smell so the mix smells really light and body buttery.
It works amazing though so I'm sticking with this mix again. I'm so glad I kept that tub of shea butter to remind me.
It still works terrible on its own, drying outmy skin but mixed with the above oils it give the mixture a creamy buttery texture instead of greasy. For real skin moisturizing though nothing beats a little natural castor oil or castor oil mixed with your favorite lotion/cream.
"Unrefined African shea butter is extracted from the nuts of the Shea-Karite tree. Shea butter nourishes the skin with Vitamins A, E, and F. Vitamins A and E help maintain the skin and keep it clear and healthy. Vitamin F acts as a skin protector and rejuvenator. Also, shea butter easily penetrates the skin, allowing the skin to breathe and not clogging pores. In addition shea butter has a high level of cinnamic acid, a natural sun screen. So it provides some degree of protection from the sun." (Treasured Locks)
I was given two tubs of unrefined, raw shea butter as a gift that's probably going to last me about two years! Don't get the refined version because it is highly processed, and therefore you will not reap the full benefits of using shea butter. I love this because it's pure and very moisturizing, but if I layer too much on my face it can clog pores in the summer. Shea butter is an intense moisturizer and full of fatty acids, so use sparingly on the face. I don't use this as a body moisturizer because it's hard to spread and takes awhile to melt to your body heat. Just mainly use on my face and lips. At first my skin didn't like this so much (continued to be flaky and dry), but now it just drinks it in!
Oooooh I love this product!! It took a little trial and error to figure how to use this for different parts of my body (face/ hair/ body) but now that I've figured it all out, this is something I will use for the rest of my life.
I have a very oily complexion, some acne, and acne scars. The rest of my body is actually pretty dry and can get quite itchy. I have straight, medium thick hair with some dry ends.
Here is what works for me:
Face- I have found that when I mix this with a drop of lavender oil, it is even more effective than using it by itself. I use this shea/ lavender combo at night only, as it is pretty greasy, and I find that it helps to even out my skin, and treat any acne. Sometimes for a major blemish, I apply some BP just on that spot on top of it. I am almost 30 and I THINK this might also be helping diminish any fine lines I am developing.
Body: Before I go to bed, I apply to any really dry and itchy areas. In the day, I find it is too oily so I mix with a bit of my Nature's Gate all natural body lotion. Works very well and absorbs pretty quickly.
Hair: I haven't tried a deep conditioning treatment with it yet, but look forward to it. So far, I have experimented with applying just a tad (after rubbing in palms) to my ends when my hair is still wet, then blow drying and straightening. You have to be careful with this one, because if you use too much, your hair will feel a little gunky after. But if you use just a small amount, the shea butter ads moister and shine, and keeps your hair moisterized until your next shampoo- even if that's in 4 days like me sometimes! I can also see how this can be used as a pomade quite well, if you have the type of hair style that requires that.
All in all it's a great, cheap, all purpose product. I am sure I will keep on discovering new ways to use it, plus it's natural, so you feel good putting it onto your body. 5 lippies all the way!!
I purchase unrefined shea butter from a company that imports from Ghana. It arrives in a big solid chunk that I cut into small pieces and whip with beaters until creamy and smooth. It does re-harden, but never to as hard as it originally was. It's much easier to work with this way. I scoop up a bit, warm it in my hands and apply it to blemishes, lips, eye area and anything else I feel "needs" it at the moment. Since I began using this, I don't need anything else for acne blemishes. This heals them up in no time and usually doesn't let them surface at all. Best of all, it doesn't dry them. As a lip moisturizer, it just can't be beat. Sometimes I'll mix it with any oil I have lying around and it feels amazing. I use it an eye cream morning and night. I'm 30 yrs old and I have zero wrinkles and honestly no signs of them in sight. At first, I tried using this as a night-time moisturizer, but it's honestly just too heavy and rich. If my skin is feeling parched, I'll sometimes use it in this manner, but not often. I also use a tiny bit in my hair at times and on dry areas on my body. It's just a great multi-purpose product that I could never be without!
EDIT 12/18/09: I had to stop using this so often because it seemed to be giving me a rash on my face and neck. I still believe this is an incredible multi-purpose product, but my rosacea does not agree with it.
I keep trying shea butter, but it just doesn't do anything for my skin or hair. :-(
I have a relative who uses nothing but Dove soap and pure shea butter and her skin and hair just GLOWS! But on me it just sits on top of my skin, greasy. After about an hour or so, it rubs off and I'm left with dry skin. On my hair it has a similar greasy but dry effect. It makes my curls stringy at first, then they curl up tighter. By the end of they day my hair is dry, greasy, an tangled no matter how little or much I use.
I've used shea butter alone and mixed with various substances(lotions for skin, conditioners for hair, olive oil, coconut oil, etc). I've used the yellow kind and the white(softer) kind. None of it seems to work for me.
I voted that I wouldn't repurchase but I have several times trying to make it work for me. But I'm finally giving up.
Shea butter is the best kept cosmetic secret! It's in a lot of expensive moisturizers, etc., but by itself, it can't be topped. I have used both refined and unrefined, whipped and not whipped. For a good cleanser, I combine it with a few drops of argan oil and a few drops of glycerine. Perfect. Get off any kind of mascara, makeup, etc. Just wash it off with a wet washcloth. And for moisturizing, I just use the shea butter with a few drops of glycerine and my skin is smooth and hydrated. I put a little bit on before taking a shower, and then after my shower, I just put some (commercial) moisturizer on over it, and then my makeup. Perfect. People are always asking me what kind of skincare I use. haha. When I tell them pure unrefined Shea Butter, they don't want to believe me. They want to go out and spend $100 plus on Estee Lauder, Shiseido, La Mer, etc. For the rest of my body, I just use Marula Oil - a light oil with a lot of good stuff in it, and soaks into my skin pretty quickly. And that's about as "natural" as I can get!!!! For my hair, I put shea butter on the ends, because my hair has color on it and the ends tend to dry out a little bit between touch-ups. Never fails to perk up my hair, though!!! A good combination for hair after shampooing is a smidge of shea butter with a smidge of Argan Oil. Shines, conditions, hair looks great.
I cannot live without my shea butter! I use it for my hair on a regular basis and my skin on occasion. Do yourself a favor and get some real unrefined shea from an African vendor in your town. Or buy online. I have purchased from Afrikan republic on their website. Shea butter varies in color and consistency based on where it's harvested from. I personally avoid any refined, overprocessed shea.
I love shea butter! I use it both for my skin and hair needs. It makes an excellent seal for ends and makes my skin soft. You can make your own treatments by mixing in essential oils and other oils like almond, avocado, or apricot to get the consistency you want. I buy mine at my local healthfood market for less than six bucks.