In the fast-moving world of skincare, it can be easy to get caught up with new, buzzy ingredients. However, this shouldn’t mean you forget about some of the less cutting edge, tried and true ingredients. This is why we’d like to take a moment to recognise the power of shea butter. This fat comes from the nuts of shea trees, which are native to West Africa.

“Shea butter is a fantastic ingredient to have in skincare, due to its properties,” explains Dr Preema Vig, medical director of the Dr Preema London Clinic

What is shea butter?

three shea nuts, one is filled with butter.

Shea butter has long been used in skincare because of its moisturising powers. “It contains a rich source of fatty acids and antioxidants,” explains Vig, adding that it’s naturally rich in vitamins A, E and F, which “protect from free radical damage and have the ability to form a barrier on the lips, to lock in moisture”.

If the warm weather is drying your lips, shea butter could be the solution. “It has anti-inflammatory properties that can heal sunburned or cracked lips, and contains a mild SPF to help protect the lips from harmful UV rays,” says Vig.

Uses for shea butter

Close-up on a woman applying moisturizing shea butteron her legs

And it’s not just your lips which can benefit from shea butter, either. Due to its high fat content, when you apply it to your skin, it’s easily absorbed and can help plump up the skin cells and protect the skin’s barrier from drying out.

It can also be used as a soap, and some studies suggest shea butter is an ideal alternative for sufferers of acne, psoriasis and eczema, who can be allergic to other soaps on the market.

The ultra-moisturising nature of shea butter means it’s also well used in hair care, where the ingredients can act as a sealant to lock moisture into our locks.

DIY shea butter products

Even though you might be bombarded with new and buzzy skincare ingredients, sometimes it’s worth going back to basics and re-embracing old favourites like shea butter. Either look for products containing shea butter or you can easily buy the raw ingredient yourself and make a DIY product.

Our favourite recipe for a super-moisturising at-home body butter involves just three ingredients: shea butter, coconut oil and beeswax.

Natural shea butter, Amazon.

Organic & Fair Trade Virgin Coconut Oil, Amazon.

Cosmetic-grade beeswax, Amazon.

Melt 80g of beeswax in a glass bowl over a saucepan of boiling water, add 80g of shea butter and stir with a toothpick, then add 160g of coconut oil until it’s all melted together. Make sure the mixture doesn’t boil, pour into sterilised jars, and you’ve got a cheap and luscious moisturiser. It’s an easy recipe – just make sure you’re using double the amount of coconut oil as shea butter and beeswax.

3 best pre-made shea butter products

Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Moisturising Lip Balm with Kokum Butter, Shea Butter & Cocoa Butter, Amazon.

The Body Shop Shea Butter Richly Replenishing Hair Mask, Amazon.

Palmers Shea Butter Formula with Vitamin E Lotion, Amazon.

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