I've used all kinds of lotions, gels, oils, and ointments over the years. But only recently have I discovered shea butter -- a natural oil that comes from the African shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa).
I was suspicious at first to buy a $10 tub of this mystery substance from a vendor at a regional fair. But the African salesman assured me that I would love it and told me that if I didn't love it, I could bring it back. Since I was, in fact, planning to visit the fair a few days later, I took him up on his offer.
Let me say that on my second trip to the fair, I sought out this gentleman to thank him for selling me the shea butter. Wow.
Rub it anywhere you have dry, rough, chapped skin:
- hands and cuticles
- all over
Shea butter is safe to use. Did you know that shea butter is actually edible? The tubs featured here are not food quality shea butter, but shea butter, when purified correctly can be used in the place of cocoa butter!
Shea butter is somewhat like butter in that it hardens in cool temperatures and melts in warmer ones. If the shea butter feels hard or even crumbly, just work it with your hands until it softens. It will then easily rub into your skin.
For a special treat, melt a small amount in a dish in the microwave. (It melts quickly, so watch it! It will only take 30-60 seconds.) Rub that melted oil on your driest spots for instant warmth and relief.
Shea butter moisture really lasts. Whereas most lip balms have me reapplying every half hour or so, the shea butter sticks with me for over an hour.
Because it is naturally concentrated, it only takes a small amount to provide intense moisture. It is not like watery, man-made lotions that require heavy applications for minimal relief. The feeling is different from a lotion, though, and may take some getting used to. I find the thick buttery cream very soothing, but it does not "dry" like a lotion normally does. There is a slight residue left on your skin. For example, when I use shea butter on my hands, I don't like to use my iPhone because my hands will leave tacky marks on the touch screen. But I find that moisture barrier very soothing to my dry hands. The feeling is somewhat similar to that of using petroleum jelly. But I like that shea butter is totally natural whereas petroleum jelly is man-made.
Shea butter is good for using
- after shaving
- after washing dishes
- during or after wind exposure
- on diaper rash
- on cracked nipples for nursing mothers