Shea Butter is a very common ingredient in many hair and skin care products. It is extracted from the Shea Nuts of the Shea tree that is scientifically known as Vitellaria paradoxa. It has a buttery rich consistency that makes it ideal for use as a natural cream for the hair and body. The butter is very thick in nature, highly versatile and off-white to yellow in appearance.
Shea butter is naturally rich in vitamins A, E and F which offers UV protection and provides the hair with fatty acids and the nutrients necessary for growth. Shea Butter so popular in the hair and skin care because of its numerous benefits to both the skin and hair.
Below is a summary of the benefits of Shea butter when applied to 4C hair:
- Locks in moisture in hair
- Soothes an irritated Scalp
- Protects the hair from damage
- Leaves the hair feeling soft
In this article, I will cover the details of the benefits of Shea Butter on 4C hair (summarized above), types of Shea Butter, tips to consider when selecting Shea Butter and how to use Shea Butter on your hair.
Benefits of Shea Butter on 4C Hair
1 – Leaves your hair feeling super soft
On applying Shea Butter on my freshly washed hair, the feeling I get on touching my hair is magical. The hair is left feeling soft and easy to manage. Shea Butter contains essential fatty acids that have deeply penetrate the hair strands leaving it smooth and soft.
If used consistently you will begin to notice that your hair is very silky and shiny in appearance.
2 – Locks in moisture
Shea Butter is a strong moisturizer that protects the hair from dryness and damage. This is because of its concentration of natural vitamins and fatty acids that makes it incredibly nourishing for hair growth.
Because of the thick consistency of the Shea Butter, it is a very effective sealant which help retain moisture in your hair for a very long time compared to other oils.
3 – Soothes irritated Scalp
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, when applied to the Scalp, Shea Butter sooths the scalp protect it from dandruffs. The essential fatty acids in Shea Butter provides relief against a dry and itchy scalp.
4 – Protect the hair from damage
Research shows that Shea Butter contains some levels of UV protection and thus applying it to your hair especially during the hot seasons will give you protection against the UV rays. The Shea Butter coats the hair acting as a barrier against the damaging effects of heat or even chlorine in a swimming pool.
The best type of Shea Butter to use on 4C hair
There are various types of Shea Butter depending on the processing methods. Knowing the different typed will help you select the best for your natural hair.
In my view, Unrefined Shea Butter Is the best to use in Natural 4C Hair and you will see why when I explain all the different types.
1 – Raw Shea Butter
Raw Shea butter is yellow/green in appearance depending on how mature the harvested Shea nuts were. This type of Shea Butter has a strong odour. The Shea Butter has not gone through any processing and thus may contain impurities. This therefore makes it unsuitable for your natural 4C hair. There are no additives or bleaches added to this type of Shea Butter.
2 – Unrefined Shea Butter
Unrefined Shea Butter is usually whiter in appearance and has been run through some form of filtering such as running through a cheese cloth to remove impurities. The filtering process does not affect the quality of the Shea Butter. Unlike refined Shea Butter, the filtering process for this type does not involve using clays, chemical or any other methods that interfere with the Butter properties such as reducing Vitamins, changing the odour or removing the colour.
This type of butter can be melted under low heat and poured into moulds.
3 – Refined Shea Butter
Refined Shea Butter has gone through some processing that changes its properties such the odour and colour. This type often goes through at least one filtering system. This type of Shea is usually scented using various processes such as airing or using chemical additions. In appearance, this butter is very smooth and white in colour because it may undergo a bleaching process. The processing that this butter goes through results in loss of some nutritional content such as Vitamins.
4 – Ultra-Refined Shea Butter
Of all the types, this Butter has gone through the most processing which includes two or more filtering systems. This type of Shea Butter has the least nutritional composition. In appearance, this Butter is very white and its texture can vary from firm to a more liquid consistency. Chemicals such as hexane and preservatives are used. This type of Shea Butter is mostly used for skin moisturizing.
Tips to consider when selecting and using Shea Butter
By now you can tell why I recommend the Unrefined Shea Butter that has only gone through a light filtering system to remove impurities. This type will give your hair the most value.
The smell of Raw/unrefined Shea Butter may be uninviting to some people and thus adding essential oils like sweet Lavender will give it a pleasant smell and add extra benefits. Make sure to store the Shea Butter at a consistent room temperature away from sunlight such that it only melts on your hands and be absorbed into the skin. It is important to note that when kept in low temperatures, it will become a hard solid and be difficult to use.
Avoid using refined/ultra-refined Shea Butter if you want maximum benefit to your hair. You can simply tell refined Shea Butter because it has no smell and the very white colour. Best Shea as mentioned is usually off yellow and creamy to the touch. This is an ideal choice because it has not been bleached or deodorized and thus has not lost its nutritional value.
Very yellow coloured Shea Butter contains an additional ingredient called Borututu tree root that has a healing antioxidant and detoxifying properties making it potent. This is also an excellent choice for natural hair and work perfectly well for damaged hair.
How to use Shea Butter on 4C hair
Shea Butter is one of the most versatile natural beauty ingredients used in most cosmetic industries. The best thing with raw African Shea Butter is that it will help in repairing scalp and hair follicles hence facilitate hair growth. It is not just for scalp, but for hair strands too by providing a protective barrier from damage. This serves to lock in moisture and shield the hair from harsh elements like the sun, wind and cold weather. Applying a small amount to your hair helps seal the split ends
The best way to use Shea Butter is to whip it. Whipped Shea Butter is smooth, fluffy and easier to use than trying to warm flakes and chunks from the jar. You can whip the butter following the procedure:
What you will need
- 4 tbsp Unrefined Shea Butter
- 2 tsp Coconut Oil
- 1tsp Jojoba Oil
- 1tsp Olive Oil
- 3 drops of Lavender Oil
**You can choose to work with the Shea Butter in its solid state, however I find it a little too tedious and so I liquefy it first.
- Warm (Not boil! a little heat goes along way) a bowl of water and then place the jar of Shea Butter. The Butter will slowly melt when the jar receives the heat from the warmed water.
- Add the other oils to the melted Shea Butter
- Transfer the mixture in a plastic bag. The reason for doing this is so that it’s easier to transfer the Butter into jars once its whipped.
- Leave the mixture in your fridge to firm it up before you start whipping it
- Whip the mixture using a hand beater, folk or a mixer to a creamy, fluffy consistency
- Transfer the whipped Shea Butter into air tight jar and proceed to use the butter to moisturize your hair!
Here are my top 4 benefits of using this Shea Butter
**TIP** If you found this post useful, you can pin this image to bookmark the post to remind you about the 4 benefits of Shea Butter. (…and you will have an answer a pin away if someone asks you🙂 )
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The tag line for this blog is ‘Returning Back to Natural’ because we are now embracing our natural curls and showing them some love, aren’t we?
When I transitioned to natural in 2015, I didn’t know much about taking care of my natural 4C hair, I made a lot of mistakes along the way and this is why I decided to document the research I have done to give you a one stop shop for all things natural hair and specifically 4C Hair.
If you want to learn about other Oils that I have found to work well with my hair, here is the link to the articles:
- What are the best oils for Natural 4C Hair?
- Is Olive Oil Good for Natural 4C Hair?
- Benefits of using Castor Oil in your Natural 4C Hair
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