shea butter skincare benefits for dry skin

My body is SO dry.

I blame all those boiling hot baths I like to take in the middle of winter (and spring, and summer, and fall…)

It doesn’t help that I sometimes neglect my body care routine. I do my face religiously every day and every night but in winter, when your body is hidden under layers of clothing, it’s easy to neglect it, ya know?

In the past, I’d try every lotion and potion under the sun to no avail. They’d moisturise my skin for a couple of hours and then back it went to Sahara dry.

Then, I found it! The magic ingredient that keeps my super uber dry skin soft and smooth all day long: Shea butter. I kid you not, these days I never use a body lotion that doesn’t have a huge dollop of it. I just know it won’t work.

So what makes Shea butter so amazingly good at treating dry skin? Here’s what the science says:

What Is Shea Butter?

Shea butter is a fat derived from the nut of the Shea tree. Shea butter is rich in moisturising fatty acids, including oleic acid, stearic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, and linolenic acid. Plus, it has its fair share of antioxidants, too.

Related: What Are The Most Common Antioxidants Used In Skincare Products?

Struggling to put together a skincare routine that banishes dry, flaky skin? Download your FREE “Best Skincare Routine For Dry Skin” cheat sheet below to get started (it features product recommendations + right application order):

Shea Butter Benefits: What Does It Do For Skin?

Shea butter is one of the most moisturising substances on the planet. But that’s not all it does. Here’s what makes it such a powerhouse:

1. Shea Butter Is An Excellent Moisturizer

It’s the fatty acids in shea butter that make it such an excellent moisturiser.

Shea butter works by creating a protective barrier on the skin that slows down water loss. According to a study conducted by AAK, it does this even better than mineral oil, one of the most moisturizing substances on the planet (hate it all you want, it works).

Now, it’s true AAK makes shea butter, so they may be a little biased. I usually wouldn’t cite a study like this but, in this case, I think they have a point. I used both lotions and body butters with mineral oil and shea butter and the latter always worked best for my dry skin. Just saying.

Another study found the moisturizing effect of a 5% shea butter cream to peak “after one hour and persist for 8 hours.” In my experience, it can last even longer. 😉

Related: 5 Mineral Oil Myths You Need To Stop Believing Right Now

haus of gloi depravity pumpkin butter

2. Shea Butter May Have Antiaging Properties

A clinical study conducted by F. Renard as part of his doctoral thesis suggests that shea butter may also have anti-aging properties.

30 volunteers, aged 29 to 82, applied shea butter daily on their skin for 4 to 8 months. The results? Skin looked smoother and clearer, and wrinkles from photoaging “are visibly diminished in half the volunteers”.

In addition, shea butter helped regenerate thinning skin. Renard thinks this is because of the unsaponifiables in shea butter, which are known to boost collagen production.

Again, this is only one study. We need more before we can say for certain shea butter can fight wrinkles. But if, like me, you need to use shea butter to treat dry skin, this would just be a bonus anyway.

Products With Shea Butter

If you’re the DYI kind, you can buy pure shea butter. Me? I’m not a fan of it. Shea butter rocks but it’s very greasy and grainy. I prefer to buy products with shea butter simply because they usually have better textures. Here are my faves:

  •  The Body Shop Shea Body Butter ($21.00): available at The Body Shop and Ulta.
  • Haus Of Gloi Pumpkin Butter ($4.50): available at Haus Of Gloi.
  • Paula’s Choice Clinical Ultra-Rich Soothing Body Butter ($19.00): available at Paula’s Choice.

The Bottom Line

Shea Butter is a staple in my skincare routine. It’s the best moisturiser I know and may even help keep wrinkles away.