Shea Butter Benefits for Hair

Nature provides many ingredients that are beneficial for your hair and skin. But among these, shea butter must be the holy grail for skin and hair care! This rich and creamy semi-solid fat comes from Africa and is known to have a lot of benefits. It is especially beneficial for thick, wavy and curly hair as it provides a lot of moisture, weight, and keeps the hair healthy. 

There are many products which contain shea butter such as leave-in conditioners, moisturizers, lotions and body wash. But, what exactly is shea butter, and what makes it so special? Let’s find out more about shea butter and the benefits of shea butter for hair.

shea butter benefits

What is Shea butter and where does it come from?

Shea butter is made from the seeds of the African shea tree, its scientific name is Vitellaria paradoxa. For thousands of years, it has been used in Africa as a treatment for hair and skin. The shea tree is found naturally in West Africa, spanning from countries like Senegal to Sudan. 

shea nuts used to produce shea butter
Photo credit: USAID Ghana

The trees grow in places like Benin, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Ethiopia, Chad, Sierra Leone, Togo, Uganda, Republic of Congo, Kenya and Guinea among other countries. Nowadays, harvesting shea seeds and producing shea butter has become a crucial source of income for the women living in these regions. 

Because it plays a huge role in building up local economies, it is often referred to as “women’s gold”. Many fair trade organizations have been established to help manage the price and promote ethics in the shea industry. At Thick Leave-in, we believe in equality and that is why we only use ethically sourced shea butter from Ghana. 

Thick leave in conditioner with shea butter

How is Shea Butter produced? 

Extracting shea butter from shea seeds takes a long process which can involve roasting, boiling, crushing and skimming in order to retrieve the valuable fat from the seeds. 

Once the seeds are harvested, the seeds are removed from their shells and crushed to pound the kernels into a pulp. 

After that, the seeds can be roasted or boiled in order to retrieve the fat. 

There are many traditional ways shea butter can be extracted from the shea seeds, however, boiling seems to be the popular and easiest method. When boiling the seeds, the fat is skimmed and processed to separate the gunk from pure fat. 

What does shea butter do for your hair and skin?  

What makes shea butter such a great product for hair and skin is that it has got antimicrobial, anti inflammatory, and antifungal properties. It also works as an emollient which softens and hydrates the skin. For the skin, it helps to moisturize, protect from the sun and other damages. Raw and unrefined shea butter also helps the skin to heal from skin peeling, scars, and stretch marks.  

Thick Leave in conditioner with shea butter

As for the hair, it has many beneficial properties which keeps the hair healthy, moisturized, protects from the sun and dandruff as well as itchy scalps.

Shea butter contains several types of plant-based fatty acids like linoleic, oleic, palmitic, arachidic and stearic acids. Although it is a fat, shea butter is non-greasy and does not clog pores on the scalp.

So it provides a conditioning effect to the hair without compromising this bounce and shine. There are so many benefits of shea butter on hair. Let’s check out each one in detail. 

Benefits of Shea Butter for Hair 

Provides Protection to the Hair

Shea butter is known for shielding the hair from harmful rays and free radicals in the air and water. When applied to the hair, shea butter coats the hair shaft and also protects it from heat. Thanks to its revitalizing properties, it can also be applied before going for a swim since it protects the hair against salt or chlorine. 

It Acts as a Hair Softener

Shea butter is widely used as a hair softener for dry, damaged hair and for high porosity hair. Shea butter has a non-greasy texture which keeps the hair moisturized and soft without the excess spread of oil in the hair. For those with high porosity hair, it also locks in moisture and doesn’t allow it to escape, which adds weight to the hair and prevents frizziness. 

Shea Butter Provides Anti-frizz Properties 

girl with thick curly hair
Photo credit: Freepik

Using shea butter for hair also helps it to combat frizz due to its smoothing properties. Using products infused with shea butter can help coat strands and soothe your scalp, tackling frizz. Along with that, its heat protecting properties helps the frizz to stay controlled even during heating. The moisture locking shea butter will control flyaways and avoid the hair getting brittle. 

Shea Butter Moisturizes the Hair

It locks in moisture and keeps the hair hydrated. It also reduces friction and its emolliating properties helps to keep the moisture without the greasiness or oilines. It is also beneficial for colored hair or for hair damaged by too many chemical treatments such as hair straightening, perming or hair relaxing. When using shea butter infused products such as a leave-in conditioner, it keeps the hair healthy and well managed. 

It Soothes Dry and Itchy Scalp 

If you’re suffering from an itchy scalp, shea butter may be helpful in treating it. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties like cinnamic acid and other fatty acids, it eases the inflammation to provide relief. Shea butter can help to soothe dry, itchy scalps due to dandruff without clogging the pores on your scalp. Shea butter is known to provide relief from dry scalp, scalp psoriasis, and other scalp conditions. 

 Keeps Rebel Curls in Place 

thick curls with shea butter leave-in conditioner applied

Shea butter can manage those stubborn curls that don’t stay in place. You know those rebel curls which just don't stay in shape no matter what you do with it? Shea butter can help to manage such curls and to touch up your problem hair spots. Try smoothening down these curls and give your hair a healthy sheen.

Now that you know more about shea butter and its benefits for hair, why not try some products like Thick Leave-in conditioner which is made with a shea butter base? Our natural leave-in conditioner has lemongrass fragrance and is parabens, sulfate, petrolatum, phthalates and paraffin free.