Creating your own beauty products at home is one of the best ways to control what you put on your body. Shea butter is a common ingredient in many beauty products available at drug stores, but they’re sometimes muddied with preservatives and chemicals that you can’t pronounce. Shea butter has many health benefits, and it’s enjoyable to use, so it’s a shame when companies don’t leave it in its purest form.
We’re here to help you create DIY recipes that will allow shea butter to work its magic uninterrupted. You’ll also get the benefit of controlling what ingredients go into them, so you won’t have to play any guessing games. Whether you’re looking for skincare or haircare, we should have a recipe that will work well for you.
What Is Shea Butter?
Shea butter comes from the oil of the nuts that grow on shea trees. The oil is extracted from the nuts and is then used for cooking, medicinal purposes, or exported to be used in beauty products.
The trees are only native to a small part of Africa, and their location in the country greatly affects the oils inside of them. The shea nuts that are grown in the west produce oil that is similar to Crisco shortening, which is what’s most commonly used in beauty products. The eastern tree oils are more of a liquid than a solid and aren’t used as often.
What Are the Health Benefits?
Shea butter is incredibly rich in nutrients which is why it has so many uses.
It contains vitamins A, E, and F, all of which are antioxidants that promote skin growth. This can help your skin appearance stay clear and might even reduce stretch marks and scars.
It also contains several ingredients that work to balance your skin’s natural oils, such as fatty acids. If your skin is frequently too dry or too oily, shea butter can help balance you out.
Each part of the shea butter works to moisturize your skin. The fatty part of the butter conditions your skin, and the waxy part helps your skin maintain that moisture. Because of these two factors, you may be able to use shea butter to help soothe skin irritation, including eczema, bug bites, and sunburns.
Even though shea butter is soft, it acts as a natural exfoliant that will aid in removing dead skin cells. If you have acne scarring or cracked heels, a little shea butter will help them heal.
What About Tree Nut Allergies?
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), there haven’t been any recorded allergic reactions to shea nuts, even if people have tree nut allergies.
Yes, the shea nut is a tree nut, but the AAAAI suggests that shea butter should be safe for people with allergies to use since there are no recorded incidents. However, it’s not a 100% guarantee, so you should be cautious the first time you use it if you have tree nut allergies.
How to Use Shea Butter
Shea butter typically has a creamy consistency and is perfect to use in beauty products because it’s malleable and feels good on the skin. Some common beauty uses for this ingredient include:
- Moisturizing cream or lotion for the skin
- Natural deodorant base
- Soap additive
- Hair conditioner
Shea butter is also used in place of vegetable oil in many African countries. So, if you run out of oil in the kitchen, you can use raw, food-grade shea butter as a backup.
You don’t have to wash shea butter off your skin after using it, which is why it works so well as a lotion. However, it’s an oil that may feel a bit greasy, so some people might prefer to wash it off.
If you use it for your hair, you should wash it out, or it may leave your hair feeling heavy and oily. Of course, this depends on personal preference, and the results will vary based on hair types.
Let’s take a look at a few different shea butter recipes you can make yourself and add to your skincare and haircare routines.
The Ultimate Shea Butter Moisturizer Recipe
This recipe only requires two ingredients and 20 minutes, and it has multiple uses. If you need a body butter, lip balm, or hair moisturizer, this one recipe can fulfill all of those needs. Store the mixture in an air-tight container away from the sun, and it will have a shelf life of up to one year.
You will need:
- Shea butter
- Coconut oil
- A pot and a glass bowl
- A mixer and mixing bowl
- An air-tight container
To make this moisturizer:
- Add about two inches of water to a pot, place on medium-high heat, and bring it to a boil.
- Place shea butter in a heat-resistant glass bowl and place the bowl on top of the pot.
- Allow the shea butter to melt completely.
- Add ½ tablespoon of coconut oil per 1 oz. of shea butter. Stir until it’s melted.
- Once the mixture is completely melted, transfer it to a mixing bowl and begin mixing. You’ll need to mix for up to 20 minutes. The final product should look like a meringue.
- Place the mixture into an air-tight container and store it in a cool place away from the sun. Avoid storing it in the refrigerator so the consistency won’t change.
Apply the mixture to your hair before you shower and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes to condition your hair. Rinse it out and follow with shampoo and conditioner.
For body butter, apply it directly to your skin as a lotion. There’s no need to wash it off, but you can do so if it leaves you feeling too oily.
Store a small amount in a lip balm tin so you can carry it with you when you need it.
If you want a moisturizing soap that won’t dry you out, shea butter will help you achieve what you’re looking for.
This recipe is meant for “melt and pour” soap. You can choose to make soap with a lye process, but that takes more time and requires some extra safety precautions.
For this recipe, you will need:
- Soap base (such as glycerin or goat milk)
- Shea butter*
- Soap molds
- Stir sticks
- Microwavable bowls
- Optional add-ins: essential oils, dried herbs, soap dye
*If you don’t have shea butter separately, look for a shea butter soap base.
To make the soap:
- Melt the soap base and shea butter together in microwavable bowls. Use 30-second intervals until it’s thoroughly melted, stirring frequently.
- Mix in the optional ingredients of your choice.
- Pour the mixture into a soap mold. You can add a layer of dried herbs on top or add drops of soap dye and swirl it around to create a design.
- Allow the soap to set overnight. For quicker results, let it set in the refrigerator.
For a soothing scent, try using eucalyptus, lavender, or peppermint oils. Citrus scents like lemon or orange will add a summery smell. You can also add flower petals or citrus zest, but these ingredients will deteriorate over time, so you’ll need to use the soap quickly.
Natural Deodorant Recipe
If you’re not used to using natural deodorant, you’ll have to go through a detox period that may be unpleasant. You may notice more sweating, more body odor, and you might even experience itchiness. But, this is just your body getting rid of harmful substances found in antiperspirants, such as aluminum.
Natural deodorant consists of three components:
- An antibacterial: shea butter, tea tree oil, or coconut oil
- Something absorbent: cornstarch, arrowroot, or diatomaceous earth
- A pleasant scent: lavender, peppermint, or lemon
When you mix these three categories together, you get a natural deodorant that minimizes odor when you sweat, but it won’t clog up your pores like an antiperspirant.
You can get creative with ingredients to find something that will suit you, but here’s a good place to start:
- ⅓ cup shea butter
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 5-10 drops of essential oil (try lavender or orange)
- ¼ cup baking soda
Take note that baking soda may be a skin irritant or cause an imbalance of your skin’s pH. If you want to avoid that, omit the baking soda from this recipe. You can add more cornstarch instead or use less shea butter.
To make the deodorant:
- Make a double boiler by filling a pot with about two inches of water and placing a heat-resistant glass bowl on top of the pot. Bring the water to a boil.
- Melt the shea butter in the glass bowl, stirring frequently.
- Mix in the cornstarch, baking soda, and essential oil.
- Pour the mixture into a glass or plastic air-tight container and allow it to harden. If you have a tube-shaped mold to create a deodorant stick, this will be easier to use.
Apply the deodorant as needed. If you store it in a container, you may need to melt it a bit to become spreadable. You can also try adding the cornstarch, baking soda, and essential oils into the moisturizer recipe we mentioned above if you don’t want a hardened end product.
Add a Little Shea
Perhaps the best part of shea butter is that you can make almost any kind of skincare product you need with it. It’s a versatile ingredient to keep in your home, and it’s easy to incorporate into your beauty routine to make sure your hair and skin stay soft and smooth.