Shea butter benefits the skin in several ways.
Here’s how it boosts skin health:
1. Relieves dry skin
Typically, you can find shea butter in lotions for people with dry skin. Shea butter contains fatty acids. They lubricate the skin and create a barrier that keeps moisture in. In people with oilier skin, sebum (natural skin oil) does this job. But for those with drier skin, a moisturizer helps maintain dewiness.
2. Eases irritation
Shea butter contains anti-inflammatory substances, which ease swelling and redness in the skin. People use it for any irritation, from sunburns to chapped lips to skin that’s reacting to too many acid peels or scrubs.
3. Prevents cell damage
Cosmetics companies often add antioxidants (substances that protect cells) to anti-aging skin care. Shea butter contains two antioxidants:
“Vitamin A is crucial for skin health,” says Dr. Vij. “Since the 1970s, we’ve used retinoids — synthetic forms of vitamin A — to firm skin and reduce wrinkles.”
It works by increasing the skin-cell turnover rate, smoothing the skin’s surface. It also plumps skin by stimulating the production of collagen, the framework that keeps your skin from sagging.
Shea butter naturally has a lot of vitamin E.
Even better? The majority of it is alpha-tocopherol (one of eight forms of vitamin E), which has the highest antioxidant activity. Vitamin E is in our sebum, so oilier skins have more of it.
But sebum production tends to decline with age. Sunlight exposure depletes it, too. Vitamin E helps the skin by preventing cellular damage and boosting moisture.