By Leah Fletcher
The history of shea butter as a precious commodity can be traced to Ancient Egypt where it was, and continues to be, used to protect skin and hair against the fierce sun and the hot dry winds of the African deserts. Early accounts of Cleopatra’s Egypt speak of caravans bearing clay jars of valuable shea butter for cosmetic use.
Shea butter’s skin care healing properties were first harnessed thousands of years ago, and it is still an extremely rich moisturizer today. Applying shea butter to your facial skin, for instance, can diminish the appearance of wrinkles and can cause the skin to become smoother and softer over time.
If you are looking for a natural alternative to the chemically-based skin and hair products that are commonly used, consider making your own shea butter. By whipping up your own shea butter these days, results in a light and usable texture, a far cry from the original consistency that can be waxy and difficult to use.
Shea butter is considered a natural moisturizer with exceptional healing properties for the skin. And as far as beauty products go, there are few things that can beat it. Unrefined shea butter, harvested from the nut of the karite tree and processed into a rich, crumbly hunk of antioxidants, shea butter moisturizes, helps skin heal and may slow down the aging process. That due to its high level of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains UV protectant along with vitamins A, E, F and fats that moisturize without clogging the pores of your skin.
It can be can be applied directly to your skin, without a need for processing. You can mix it with other natural ingredients such as essential oils and other butters to make it more appealing.
A standard recipe for whipped shea butter
Here is how to turn shea butter into your own homemade moisturizer—good for face, hands, elbows and hair.
•1 cup of (8 ounces) of raw shea butter
•3 ounces of extra virgin olive oil, jojoba oil or another nut oil
•I teaspoon of vitamin E oil
•Essential fragrance oils—like almond, orange or coconut (Note: To make hair cream, use half the amount of shea butter and add 4 ounces of coconut oil)
•Melt the shea butter in a double boiler. Fill the bottom half of the double boiler half way with water. Place the shea butter in the top half, and melt it over medium heat, stirring frequently. If you don’t have a double boiler, place the shea butter in a small bowl and place it into a pot of water and hear it slowly, stirring occasionally. When it melts, remove the double boiler from the heat. Using a candy thermometer, take the temperature of the shea butter. Make note of the number.
•Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Place the candy thermometer into the olive oil, and when it reaches the same temperature as the shea butter, remove it from the heat.
•Combine the shea butter and the olive oil by pouring them into a blender. If you don’t have a blender, an eggbeater will do the job. Blend the mixture on high for five to seven minutes. Fold in a few drops of scented essential oil. Pour the mixture into a container, and let it cool completely before placing on the lid.
•Place a dime-sized amount on your finger and message it into your skin using small, circular motions. When placing shea butter around the skin of your eye, just dot it with your finger. Be careful not to get the shea butter in your eyes or on your eyelashes.