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- Shea Butter for Hair: Treats Dryness, Frizziness, Damaged Hair
- Does it Actually Work?
- Benefits of Shea Butter for Hair
- How do I use Shea Butter on my Hair?
- What’s the Texture of Your Hair?
- Shea Butter for Curly and/or Frizzy Hair
- What if My Hair is Oily?
- Pros and Cons of Using Shea Butter for Hair
- Which Product is For Me?
- How to Deep Condition with Shea Butter
- HAIR TREATMENT: 2 SHEA BUTTER CONDITIONER RECIPES
- Products We Love
- What did you think of the post?
- Is it safe to use Shea butter on my hair?
- How do I get the most out of my Shea butter?
I’ve only used neat Shea butter on my hair once or twice in the past ( as a mask all over my hair) and so I never gained a lot of experience on making the most of it as a stand alone product. But, I do use it as a MUST ingredient in most of my DIY skin care products and it is an essential in my DIY hair conditioner.
As I gain more and more knowledge around natural ingredients over time (both theoretical and practical) I am really keen in learning how to make the most with Shea butter for my hair as a stand alone product. In the meantime, let’s have a look at the benefits of Shea butter for your hair, particularly if you have dry, damaged or frizzy hair, like I do 🙂
Shea Butter for Hair: Treats Dryness, Frizziness, Damaged Hair
Shea butter is made up of about 50% saturated fats, which is why it’s so effective at moisturizing and softening our hair (with healing properties and moisturizing properties). It also contains fatty acids such as stearic, palmitic and oleic and linoleic acid (which can help calm down inflammation found in hair follicles and on the scalp, according to Byrdie), so it’s great for helping hair to hold on to moisture. Oh, and it’s a great source of Vitamins A and E as well, also good for helping to trap moisture in our hair and nourish it deeply.
One of the best things about Shea butter is that it is a very versatile product. It can be used as an ingredient in everything from bath oils and body lotion to shampoo. And it’s also a fantastic ingredient if you’re looking for something that will soothe your dry, damaged hair and make it feel soft, smooth and silky.
Shea butter is made of shea nuts from a tree that grows in West Africa. It’s been used for centuries to heal skin and hair African culture, and has been marketed in Western countries as wondrous natural ingredient for skin and hair for a few years now.
Does it Actually Work?
Shea butter is an emollient, which means it’s able to block water from escaping the skin and hair. This makes it a great all-round moisturizer because it helps you retain needed moisture by sealing it, which is especially needed during cold, winter months. But there’s more to the story. Shea butter has a high fatty acid content which not only makes it a fantastic conditioner but it’s also capable of carrying nutrients like vitamins A and E into your skin and hair, and locking them in for longer lasting benefits.
Shea butter is available in cold-pressed form (raw, pure 100% unrefined Shea butter), which does not contain chemicals or other additives that would be harmful to your health.
If you have a severe skin condition, it’s advisable to seek medical advice before trying any new treatments.
Benefits of Shea Butter for Hair
What exactly is shea butter for hair? What does it do?
The benefits of Shea Butter for hair include:
- Safe to use on all types of hair
- Good for hair that’s dry, damaged or treated
- Reduces frizz
- Treating dry scalp conditions
- Deeply moisturizing, seals moisture into the hair
- Increases softness (my dry, curly hair benefits from it)
- Prevents hair breakage (dry hair breaks easier)
- Prevents split ends
- Reduces scalp irritation
- Reduces redness
- Helps reduce itching and flacking
- Reduces dandruff
- Prevents weak hair
- Reduces hair shedding
- Prevents hair loss
- Treats premature graying
- Improves the appearance of dandruff, eczema and psoriasis
Some interesting ones are:
Soothes scalp irritation
Shea butter is an effective remedy for itchy scalp irritation as it is an effective soothing remedy because of its anti-inflammatory properties (which also works for eczema). It is used as an ingredient in many commercial shampoos and conditioners, it helps remove the itch and flakes from the scalp.
Dandruff is a common scalp condition that has many contributing factors, including the pH level of the scalp. You need to have a healthy scalp in order to maintain dandruff free and healthy hair.
Shea butter is a good remedy for dandruff.
Protects from heat damage
If you use lots of heat styling tools in your hair, like blow dryers, straighteners and curling irons, you’re more likely to experience more breakage and split ends. This is because the sudden change in temperature weakens the structure of your hair. If used over time, it can even make your hair feel brittle and thinner.
Shea butter is a great way to protect your hair from this damage.
Mends split ends
When you have split ends, your hair is damaged. Shea butter will help repair the damaged ends and prevent them from growing even further. It also provides a deep conditioning for your hair, making it softer and less brittle. It’s important to note that Shea butter has got to be used regularly in order for it to work its magic because if you only use it once a month I don’t think it will do anything for you that’s lasting.
One of the key things with split ends is that the hairs becomes weaker. And the nature of Shea butter is to repair right at the point of damage, and stop hair from breaking off more easily.
How do I use Shea Butter on my Hair?
Follow the steps above depending on your type of hair. But, as a general rule, I’d say:
- Use a small amount of product and warm it between your fingers before applying it to your hair, as this makes it easier to apply evenly
- Apply enough product to cover all areas of your hair or just ends for dry, split ends
- Use shampoos and conditioners that contain Shea butter to avoid using too much of the butter on its own if it weighs your hair down. You will still reap the benefits of the shampoo, conditioner or even leave-on conditioners and treatment
- Put it into your hair at night, and wash it out in the morning, but during the day you can use a leave-in masque (like the Aloe Vera one above) to seal in moisture and keep your hair soft and shiny.
What’s the Texture of Your Hair?
Before using Shea butter on your hair, it is important that you understand its consistency. It is a soft, pale sometimes yellow fat (if root from the Borututu tree or palm oil has been added) that is solid at room temperature, but melts quickly and spread easily when warmed by the hands or fingertips. It’s so soft, it’s hard to squeeze out of the container without making a mess all over your fingers.
Depending on your hair texture, it may take several weeks to see changes, but regular use will help condition your hair and keep it healthy. You’ll need to experiment with the amount of product you use.
NOTE: Because Shea butter used on its own can make your hair look and feel stiff and flat, depending on your hair type I recommend to choose between:
1) Using Shea butter on its own,
2) Mixing it with other products or
3) Purchasing a product that already has Shea butter in it
Shea Butter for Coarse, Dry, Damaged or Brittle Hair
If your hair is coarse, dry and damaged hair, a moisturizer like Shea butter is going to smooth out the cuticles, creating a very smooth, polished feel and appearance. You can use on its own or mix it with other oils to create a great conditioner.
HOW TO USE:
- Wash hair and condition as usual.
- Apply a small amount of Shea butter in your hands and work into hair
- Comb through to distribute the product
- Use as often as you like
TIP 1: If you have a lot of hair, 1/2 to 3/4 an ounce of Shea butter should be enough. If your hair is short or fine, 2 to 3 teaspoons may be enough.
TIP 2: A small amount added to shampoo or hair mask will help to remove dryness, add a healthy sheen and soften the hair.
Shea Butter for Medium to Fine Hair that is Still Dry
This is exactly my case. I have really fine, curly hair which is still very dry. I have to apply hair oils every time I wash my hair and lately I’ve been using Aloe vera for deep hydration. I use my own DIY product which are a mix of carrier oils; I will be adding Shea butter to my next batch.
So, if you have medium to fine hair like me, you may see a great improvement if you use a product with Shea butter content in it like a leave-on conditioner. You can try Shea butter on its own but it might make your hair feel a little heavy.
HOW TO USE: You just need to put enough product on your hands, rub your hands together and then work through your hair so that it gets evenly distributed throughout.
TIP 1: The product can be left in your hair as a mask and then washed out. I leave it on as my hair is extremely dry. Style as normal.
TIP 2: Mixing it with other oils, like argan oil will make your hair shine and feel silky. I mix mine with Aloe vera, andiroba oil, argan oil, lavander essential oil and rosemary essential oil.
Shea Butter for Curly and/or Frizzy Hair
Curly hair can be frizzy and it is a bit different from straight or wavy hair in a way that it doesn’t have enough oil production in its cuticles to hold moisture in for long. Shea butter can smooth out your curls really nicely.
HOW TO USE: Follow the exact same steps as mentioned above to use Shea butter on its own.
That is, first wash your hair and then apply a small amount of the product in your hands and work into your hair. It’s important that you work in small amounts at a time so that you don’t completely cover your strands with the butter. (This is because you would have to wash it out every time you style your hair and not a great idea at all!)
TIP 1: If you have a lot of hair, 1/2 to 3/4 an ounce of Shea butter should be enough. If your hair is short or fine, 2 to 3 teaspoons may be enough.
TIP 2: A small amount of the Shea butter added to your shampoo or conditioner will help to remove dryness, add shine and soften the hair.
TIP 3: The product can be left in your hair, and then you can use styling products over the Shea butter to create body and shine with a lightweight feel. Keep in mind that this will result in more weight than normal so, again, if you have really fine curly hair like I do going too far can result in a flat look.
What if My Hair is Oily?
In order to avoid excess greasiness, and to be able to use it to add moisture to your hair, an alternative would be to try Shea oil, which would be perfect for looser hair texture. Shea oil is very similar to Shea butter, and is also made from the nuts of the shea tree. It has a lighter texture and absorbs into the hair more easily than Shea butter.
Pros and Cons of Using Shea Butter for Hair
- EXTREMELY nourishing, moisturizing and adds shine
- Encourages hair growth
- Makes hair appear shinier and healthier
- RECOMMENDED by a lot of stylists and dermatologists alike
CONS: Can be too heavy for fine hair, can make your hair feel greasy (unless you use it in a leave-in conditioner or mix it with a lighter oil like argan or grapeseed oil)
Which Product is For Me?
If you’re going to use Shea butter neat, you need to know about the different Shea butter types.
Shea Butter Types
Shea Butter Raw Unrefined: Some people like to choose this type, because they believe that the raw butter has more benefits. It is the one I use, the Shea butter product I recommend below is raw.
Shea Butter Refined: One of the main reasons that people choose refined Shea butter is to mix with other ingredients to add texture to their products. I don’t recommend this one since it has been filtered and some of the nutrients are no longer present but it will not have a strong nutty scent (which raw Shea butter can have at times). I don’t recommend it.
How to Deep Condition with Shea Butter
This is how you should deep condition with Shea Butter:
Step 1: Choose a conditioning treatment that will suit your hair type (i.e.: if you have dry hair, use a deep conditioning treatment that’s specifically formulated for dry hair).
Step 2: Add a small amount of Shea butter in a bowl, soften the mixture using the Bain Marie method.
Step 3: Mix with your conditioning treatment thoroughly. Apply some of the mixture on the ends of your hair and gently massage into it. If needed, section off the top portion of your hair and repeat the application process from this step.
Step 4: Leave it in for as long as you can, but no less than 30 minutes for getting the effects.
Step 5: Rinse it off with warm water, and follow up with a good shampoo, you might not need to add any conditioner to your hair, you’ll have to see for yourself. My hair is really dry so I do have to add conditioner after shampooing, every time.
Step 6: If necessary, use a hair dryer on a medium-low setting, and style as normal although you shouldn’t try this method too often as it might be drying for your hair. I never use a hair dryer anymore but I understand some people might be in a hurry or in colder weather conditions.
Step 7: Apply your regular hair routine.
HAIR TREATMENT: 2 SHEA BUTTER CONDITIONER RECIPES
Shea Butter Hair Mask Recipe
Take 1 tablespoon of honey, 2 tablespoons of coconut milk, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of Shea butter previously softened using the Bain Marie method. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Apply mixture to the hair and massage into scalp for about 2 minutes. Leave on for 20 minutes before applying shampoo. For a deeper conditioning, you can leave on for up to 1 hour. Shampoo as usual. Style as normal.
Shea Butter Deep Conditioner with Grapeseed Oil Recipe
Take 2 tablespoons of Shea butter (soften with a fork), 1 teaspoon of grapeseed oil and your regular conditioner. Mix in a bowl until completely combined. Apply onto hair, cover with a shower cap and leave on for 30 minutes. Shampoo as usual. Style as normal.
The above are great ideas to get you started. There’s not one right recipe, you’ll have to experiment with what works for your hair.
Products We Love
If, on the other hand, you prefer to use products that contain Shea butter so it won’t be too heavy for your hair, I have a list of fantastic brands. These are just a few recommended hair care products. They all have the ability to soothe, soften and condition your hair. Add them in your routine for a long lasting result.
If you’re looking to buy Shea butter based products online, Amazon is a great place to get started.
Shea Moisture Ultra-Healing All-Over Hydration 100% Raw Shea Butter
Use sparingly as a little will go a long way, believe me. Always look for organic ingredients in your products (I do!). In its natural form; this is 100% organic Shea Butter, which has been ethically sourced from the women’s cooperatives in Northern Ghana. This butter will replenish your hair because of the essential fatty acids and vitamins A and D. It will condition your hair, protect it from heat, soften it and treat irritated scalp. Remember you can also use it on your skin.
HOW TO USE: You can use as a stand alone product (leave-on conditioner or as a hair mask) or mix with your conditioner before rinsing off. Use it for split ends. Massage your scalp with it. Use for the recipes above.
Carol’s Daughter Mimosa Hair Honey Shine Pomade For Curly, Dry Natural Hair, Moisturizing with Shea Butter and Cocoa Butter
Hair gel-like type with a creamy texture with good, healthy ingredients (other popular products I checked had unwanted ingredients which would damage hair as well as the planet). Just apply a very small amount to your hair (rub first with your hands and work it through your hair). Hair can be dry or damp. You can also work it through your scalp, use your finger pads and massage in gentle circular motions for a few minutes.
What did you think of the post?
I really hope you enjoyed this post, and that it was helping you learn a bit more about how to use Shea Butter. Remember if you have any comments or questions please leave a comment
Shea butter can provide deep hydration to hair and is great for frizzy hair.
If you find that Shea butter on its own is too heavy on your hair, try mixing it with some other oils (such as argan oil or jojoba oil) to make a lighter product that is still very effective. You will have to melt the butter using the Bain Marie method (please don’t melt using the microwave). Apply as often as you like but at least every week or two and see how your hair responds.
Is it safe to use Shea butter on my hair?
Shea butter is an amazing moisturizer that is well know for its ability to deeply condition and protect the hair against the harmful effect of free radicals. It also gives hair your hair a shiny, healthy appearance. It is very safe and will not cause any adverse effects.
How do I get the most out of my Shea butter?
Shea butter works even better when used with a regular conditioning and deep conditioning treatment. You can buy deep conditioners designed for your specific hair type or you can make one at home using natural ingredients (i.e.: Aloe Vera, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, etc). Just mix the butter once you melt it using the Bain Marie method with your favorite oils.