6 Ways to Use Shea Butter for Natural Hair

Shea butter is often the go-to for naturals to moisturize their natural hair or stimulate hair growth. Shea butter contains natural ingredients that leave dry skin or hair smooth and soft. Here is all you should know about Shea butter and its benefits for natural hair.

What is Shea Butter?

Raw Shea butter

Shea butter is produced from Shea nuts of the Shea-Karite tree, a native tree that is grown in West Africa. Its contents are a mix of vitamins, minerals, catechins, and fatty acids such as stearic, oleic, and linoleic acids. Shea butter is used as a natural moisturizer for softer skin and hair. It is also known to heal cuts, injuries, and burns on the skin.

Here are 6 ways you can use Shea butter for your natural hair.

1. Protect hair and scalp against UVS

When your hair follicles are exposed to the sun too often, it gets damaged and produces dry damaged hair. Shea butter contains a small amount of SPF which serves as a protective barrier against the ultraviolet rays of the sun.

How to use it

Before going out to where your hair would be exposed to the sun, melt a small quantity of Shea butter, and apply lightly to the hair. You can add it to your moisturizer spray to spray onto your hair.

2. Soothe dry and itchy scalp

Shea butter has anti-inflammatory qualities and rich fat which can get absorbed into the scalp without leaving a greasy feel or clogging the pores. This is why it is effective in easing dry itchy scalp or dandruff. Shea butter is also great for moisturizing dry or damaged hair. It provides a good deal of moisture to dry tired strands starting from the roots to the ends. It is safe to use on relaxed or color-treated hair as a moisturizing product too.

How to use it

Divide your hair into sections, take a small amount of Shea butter melt it over boiling water with a double boiler. After it's cool apply onto your fingertips and massage into your scalp in circular motions. For dry hair apply thoroughly from roots to ends and comb through.

3. Protect hair against heat damage

If you straighten, curl or use any form of heat on your hair Shea butter can act as a heat protectant for your hair. This is because Shea butter doesn't sit heavy on the hair instead it absorbs into each hair strand and protects against heat damage.

How to use it

Use just Shea butter or add other natural oils like grape seed or avocado oil to it. Then apply in small amounts before using heat on the hair. 

4. Moisturize and soften hair

Shea butter contains vitamin A and E with essential fatty acids which are believed to add moisture and shine to the hair. Its non-greasy quality makes it an excellent moisturizer for the hair. It softens dry brittle hair and repairs split damaged ends as well.

How to use it

Mix with another carrier oil and apply as the oil for the LOC method or apply as a leave-in moisturizer after every wash day. 

5. Seal in moisture to the hair

Due to its emollient qualities, Shea butter is an excellent sealant for the hair especially for Afro-textured hair which is naturally dryer than other hair types. It provides moisture for the hair and then seals in moisture to the hair without leaving it greasy. This sealing quality ensures that your hair stays moisturized during harsh weather.

How to use it

Apply a small quantity to your hair or add to your favorite conditioner for extra moisture. You can add it to your creams and shampoos too.

6. Prevent hair loss and promote hair growth

The anti-inflammatory qualities and fatty acids contained in Shea butter supply essential nutrients that help to treat scalp conditions and improve the overall health of the scalp. This will, in turn, strengthen the hair follicles, reduce hair loss, and make your hair grow thicker. 

How to use it

Mix Shea butter with any carrier oil like olive or coconut oil. Apply to the hair and edges and massage into the scalp often. You can do this before styling your hair in the morning or before bedtime.

Tips for Buying Shea butter

When shopping for Shea butter go for the raw or unrefined ones. Unrefined Shea butter is in its natural state and has the highest quality. It has a strong nutty aroma to it while refined Shea butter has been refined to remove the natural aroma for people who may not like it. A plastic-like scent indicates that it has been refined.

Make sure to check the color before purchasing it. If it is not ivory-colored this means that the Shea butter has been refined through the process of bleaching. 

Do a patch test on your skin before applying it to the scalp. Apply a little amount to your skin to see how your skin and possibly scalp would react to Shea butter.

If you can't find Shea butter, you can opt for other hair care products that contain Shea butter. Conditioners with Shea butter is a good choice here. You can also use Jojoba oil for your hair as it provides similar benefits.

How to store Shea butter

The best way to store Shea butter is in an airtight container and in a cool dry environment. Make sure to keep it away from environments exposed to heat. Too warm temperatures will also cause it to melt and return to liquid form. Shea butter usually lasts up to 2 years but if you start to notice an acidic smell it is probably time to toss it in the bin.

For more ways on how to use Shea butter, TwoLala shares the 5 Shea butter hacks they use for their hair.