The natural hair movement is here. And more so among the African women. From the streets of Kampala, to Nairobi, Cape Town and Lagos, you will notice that most women are keeping their hair natural. This is for a number of reasons but key among which is the desire by African people to be in control of their african bodies. I mean why should one be reliant on imported hair extensions, braids and wigs which require foreign and inorganic cosmetics to maintain them? It beats common logic especially in Africa where we are well endowed with organic natural resources that can be used to enhance our beauty while redefining our place in the world! Shea butter is one of those natural resources that produce magical results for our hair care needs.
Shea butter has been cultivated for thousands of years for medicine, beauty and food. In today’s world of natural cosmetics, it is widely extolled as a pure, pristine natural and healthy moisturizer for softer and more beautiful skin and hair. One of the essential beauties for shea butter is that it is non-comedogenic. This means that it does not clog pores, which is important for ensuring healthy hair growth. Natural shea butter can be used on different hair types, including tightly curled, color treated, Afro-textured hair and even damaged hair.
Particularly for the hair, Shea butter, especially when raw and cold-pressed contributes towards hair health by strengthening hair fibers, lubricating cuticles, and reducing frizz. More detailed functions are elaborated below;
- Prevents breakage: Shea butter prevents your hair from breaking because it is rich in natural plant oils that easily penetrates deep into your hair and scalp. This helps with hair breakage. Shea butter is also quite good at mimicking sebum. When applied to the scalp, it slows the production of excess sebum. This is good for your follicles and also for the quality and health of your hair. The ability of fatty acids to enter the hair shaft allows it to replenish regions like the hydro-lipid layer and the cortex, beneath the outer cuticle layer.
- Moisturizing: Filled with Vitamins A and E along with essential fatty acids, shea butter has both emollient and healing properties for the skin. Some of these ingredients, such as the high content of fatty acids in shea butter help add moisture to your hair. This reduces dryness and prevents split ends. Fatty acids also help increase shine and reduce the frizz of your hair. This protects hair from heat damage caused by, for instance, blow drying.
- Reduces scalp irritation: Shea butter’s anti-inflammatory properties help to reduce scalp irritation by providing healing effects without clogging the pores.
- Preventing hair loss: There are numerous components of shea butter that lend themselves to preventing (and even reversing) hair loss. A good shea butter mixture for the hair will be minimally processed and include other natural ingredients that can benefit the follicles by suppressing hair loss factors such as inflammation. An effective blend will soften and condition the hair without leaving a greasy, heavy residue.
- The Sun Protecting Benefits: In recent years, the detrimental effects of the sun’s UV radiation on the hair and scalp have started to gain widespread attention. Shea butter helps render a natural looking softness, while conditioning the scalp and protecting the hair from sun damage. According to researchers, the benefits of shea butter for the hair include sun-protecting properties due to the constituents of cinnamate esters of triterpene alcohol which can absorb UVB radiation. Shea butter also protects the shafts and scalp from much of the harmful effects of sun exposure.
How to Apply Shea Butter Directly to Your Hair
The easiest way to use shea butter is by applying it directly to your hair. You can apply it from root to tip, and even massage into your scalp for additional benefit.
- Using your fingertips, collect a small amount of shea butter. Rub between your palms until it melts, and then apply directly to the scalp and hair.
- Use your fingertips to massage the shea butter in, using slow, circular motions.
- All the shea butter used will be absorbed by the scalp. You can repeat three to five times per week, as needed.