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Shea Butter and Natural Hair: Five Reasons It's a Match!

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Shea butter is all the rave in the natural hair community, and it’s not hard to see why. It has numerous benefits that make it not only a great butter for the hair, but for the skin as well.


Shea butter is the product of the Shea Karite fruit which is grown particularly in western and eastern Africa. It is also known as Ori in Nigeria, Ghariti in the Wolof language of Senegal, among others.

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There is two types of shea butter, refined and unrefined shea butter. While the former is pure and may contain traces of the shea nut, the latter is usually refined through chemical processes to get rid of the mild odor. It also goes through a bleaching process which transforms it from an off-white color to pure white.


Use of raw shea butter is highly recommended because the chemical process can destroy the benefits that accompany the natural form. If you are not a fan of the smell, consider mixing it with essential oils.


If you have ever had your doubts about this beauty staple, then let us remind you why shea butter works for natural hair.

Shea Butter is a Natural Conditioner

Although shea butter cannot be called a moisturizer—in the sense that it has no water content, there’s no doubt that it has moisturizing properties as confirmed by many naturalistas, especially those with type 4 hair.


Although a heavy butter, many naturalistas have attested to using just shea butter on their hair to keep it soft and pliable. It is vitamin-rich and contains five essential fatty acids which can make it incredibly nourishing.

Shea Butter Protects Hair from UV Damage

The skin is not the only organ affected by harmful UV rays. Exposure to the sun could cause your hair to become fragile and brittle as the UV rays have the tendency to break down the protein in the hair. Using shea butter which has a Sun Protective Factor (SPF) of 6 on your hair can mildly prevent it from being sun-damaged.

Shea Butter Soothes the Scalp

If you’ve got dry, itchy scalp or suffer a dandruff problem, shea butter which contains anti-inflammatory properties can soothe your scalp. Fatty acids like oleic, linoleic acid and stearic acid contained in this wonder butter can help heal your scalp. Also, because the skin readily allows shea butter to absorb into the skin, it does not clog the pores, so there is no need to worry about product build-up.

Shea Butter Seals Moisture

One of the issues which often plagues natural hair is moisture retention. Shea butter can prove useful as a sealant to lock in moisture. Remember, shea butter on its own does not hydrate the hair even though your strands might feel soft after application. To get the best out of shea butter, we recommend using it after a water-based moisturizer application on your hair.

Shea Butter is a Heat Protectant for Natural Hair!

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For naturalistas who love to flat iron or blow dry their tresses, preventing heat damage is a challenge. Although there are various heat protectants in the cosmetic industry which do a good job, if you ever run out of options, shea butter is a good one to try. It can conduct heat as much as some traditional silicone used in heat protectants.