I’ve never had good skin. When I turned 30, it stopped breaking out all the time, and that’s about the best thing I could say for it. Until the past couple of weeks, that is. I know it’ll never be perfect, but lately it’s pretty good indeed.
I blame it all on shea butter, my new favorite thing.
About Shea Butter
Shea butter comes from the nut of the karite tree, native to West Africa. Karite trees don’t produce nuts until they’re several decades old, so nearly all shea butter still comes from Africa. There, it’s called “women’s gold” because it provides employment for so many women.
Raw, unrefined shea butter contains cinnamates and acetates that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It also has caffeic acid, a UV protectant. Plus, it’s high in vitamins A, E, and F, and unsaponifiable fats that absorb easily into your skin, providing moisture without clogging pores.
In Africa, shea is used as an all-purpose oil, including in cooking. Here, it’s a prized beauty product. They say it cures wrinkles, scars and stretch marks. That hasn’t been proven yet, but I’ll tell you one thing: it makes your skin feel and look amazing.
But there’s a catch: when you refine shea butter, it loses many of its beneficial qualities. Including the antioxidants. Most commercial beauty products claiming to contain shea have it in very small amounts, and it’s usually heavily refined.
Shea is rated by grade, from “A” to “F”. You’re very unlikely to find Grade A anywhere in your drugstore. Lower-grade shea butter is still a good moisturizer, but practically all the other benefits are gone.
So I decided to make my own whipped shea butter this year, and give it out to my lady friends. I bought a huge chunk of unrefined shea butter and some essential oils. I also grabbed some extra virgin coconut oil so I could make hair cream for my frizzy friends. I’ve run a few batches now and am really happy with them. So without further ado, here’s how to make shea body butter and hair cream.
How to make whipped shea moisturizer
- 8oz raw shea butter
- 3oz extra virgin olive oil (or any non-comedogenic oil, including jojoba)
- 1 teaspoon vitamin E oil
- Essential fragrance oils
1. Warm the shea
Scoop shea butter into a metal bowl. Put some water in a pot and place the bowl in it, making sure it doesn’t touch the bottom of the pot. Heat on low heat, stirring.
You really don’t want to overheat the shea, because the more you heat it, the more it loses its antioxidant properties. I like to mash mine with a fork as it heats. As soon as it’s fully mash-able, I take it off the heat. It can have lumps in it, that’s fine.
2. Add oil
Pour in olive oil and vitamin E oil.
I vary the amount of oil added, based on what type of product I’m making. This will be a body butter, so I used more olive oil. For a face cream, stick to the recipe and even try using less olive oil. You can always add more later.
The shea butter will take on an awesome creamy texture pretty quickly, but don’t stop so soon! You need to keep whipping until it’s cooled to room temperature, and that can take up to 30 minutes.
I usually whip for 5 minutes straight, then let it sit in the fridge 5 minutes. I repeat the process two or three times. Eventually, it’ll take on a very light and frothy texture, and the bowl will no longer feel warm to the touch.
4. Add fragrance
Once your shea butter is all lovely and frothy, add fragrance. Shea has a fragrance of its own, so factor that in when you’re choosing essential oils. I thought this one would be a good body butter, so I went with sweet orange oil and a little rosemary and mint.
Add two or three drops of each oil at a time, then whip well and test it until you like how it smells. Don’t use more than a quarter teaspoon of fragrance oil, or it’ll smell too perfumey.
That’s it! Scoop your shea butter into a container. Since mine will be gifts, I went and bought every single decorative tin or jar from my local thrift stores. I was surprised at how many they had. Give it a shot!
My shea butter gifts will come with some information on raw shea, including the fact that it has a shelf life. It will degrade over time, so let people know they should use it soon! It’s safe for any body part, and even safe if ingested. Not that you should. It will do more good on your elbows and crow’s feet.
How to make whipped shea hair cream
The recipe is the same as above, except you should substitute half of the shea butter with extra virgin coconut oil. Coconut oil, like shea butter, is solid at room temperature. However, it melts as soon as it touches your skin. Don’t be tempted to put it in your moisturizer, though: it’s pretty highly acnegenic.
Shea hair cream is only good for people with curly and dry hair. Nobody else wants to add oil to their hair anyway, right? And it is oily. I use a very small amount when my hair is wet, and only apply it to the ends. It makes my hair strong, shiny and elastic — and because I put delicious flavors in it, it also makes me smell awesome.
No time to make it yourself?
Don’t worry, Chagrin Valley has you covered. Their whipped shea butter is handmade, human-tested, vegan, organic, and totally dreamy.
But be warned: it’s $22 for 4 ounces, and that’s about half what it cost me to make a year’s worth of shea goodies at home.