The Wonders of Shea Nut Butter

This morning, it was 21 degrees outside! Yikes! This is the time of year when the weather plays havoc with my skin and hair. No matter how much lotion I slather on, my skin still feels dried out and irritated. As an experiment, I decided to ditch the lotion and replace it with Shea Nut Butter.

For those of you who haven’t heard about it yet, Shea butter is an amazing balm with incredible moisturizing and anti-aging properties.

It’s extracted from the nuts of the Karite tree in Western African nations, the main exporter being Ghana. Farmers (mostly women) wait 15 years for the Karite tree to mature before harvesting the nuts, which are then cooked, pounded and then boiled some more until the fat separates and rises to the surface. The fat is then skimmed off and cooled. Shea butter is solid at room temperature, but softens when it comes in contact with your skin.  What’s wonderful about Shea, is that rather than feeling greasy, like other solid oils might, it feels velvety.

Shea is especially known for its anti-aging benefits; it helps restore elasticity to the skin, reduce the appearance of scars and wrinkles, and heal blemishes. It’s naturally rich in vitamins A, E and F (fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6), and can soothe dry skin, eczema, burns, rashes, and chapped lips.

So, how to use this fantastic body butter? Scoop a bit out and massage into your skin. At first it might seem a bit heavy, but it really does “melt” into your skin, leaving it smooth and silky. I also use it on my feet closer to spring, to get my feet ready for sandals. I slather my feet with it and put on socks to sleep in (if you can stand it).

You can also make your own skin cream (at home!) using shea. This cream is great if you want something lighter than just the plain shea nut butter:

  • Melt 3 parts unrefined Shea butter in a double-boiler, and then add 2 parts of a good carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil. If you want to add essential oils for scent or additional healing benefits, add them now, as well. Make sure the mixture is blended well and let cool until partially solidified. (This step may take a little time. You can set the mixture in the freezer if you get impatient.) Whip with a kitchen mixer until it is the consistency of whipped butter. Store your new shea butter cream in a glass container with a tight lid and store at room temperature.

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