If you’re a fan of deeply nourishing, natural hair and body care, Shea butter is probably an ingredient you’re already familiar with. But have you thought about trying Shea nut oil too? It may not be as well-known as the butter variety, but this rich-natural oil has just as many hair and skin-softening benefits.
Being naturally high in fatty acids, Shea nut oil is widely used for moisturising and softening skin and hair. The oil is extracted from the nuts of the shea tree. When the nuts are cold pressed to create shea butter, the oil is produced as a by-product.
During the cold-pressing process, shea butter retains the fat, whereas the oil retains more of the fatty acids. Here’s a comparison of the composition of the two:
|Fatty acid||Shea oil||Unrefined Shea butter||Role|
|Stearic acid||27%||43%||Creates a waxy, solid consistency|
|Oleic acid||59%||46%||This fatty acid is highly moisturising and easily absorbed into the skin|
|Linoleic acid||9%||7%||Produces ceramides (lipids that help reinforce your skin’s barrier and increase hydration)|
|Palmitic acid||5%||4%||Forms an oily layer that slows the loss of water through the skin|
Here we outline four common uses of shea oil.
This super-hydrating oil can be applied directly to your skin as a moisturiser. As pure shea oil is non-comedogenic, you can use it as a face or body oil moisturiser. It’s also an effective emollient, so it can be particularly good for very dry skin on elbows, feet, and knees.
If your locks are looking a little parched, a treatment including shea oil could help rejuvenate your distressed mane. Consider using shea nut oil as a pre-shampoo (often referred to as a pre-poo.) Shampooing can strip moisture from your hair, so a dose of the oil before you wash adds a protective layer to your tresses. This is a technique often used by people with curly hair types.
Simply apply the oil to dry hair and leave it for as long as you can before shampooing. Aim for 30 minutes but consider using as an overnight treatment too. This locks in moisture, which will help to restore the suppleness of dry and damaged hair. One proviso though – if you have fine hair avoid applying it to your roots as it can cause an oily appearance. Apply oil to the ends only.
Shea nut oil is a pure lightweight oil that is naturally high in fatty acids. This makes it an ideal cosmetic ingredient for softening dry hair and as an all-over moisturiser for the skin. Overall, if you feel that shea butter is too heavy for you, the lighter texture of the oil version makes it definitely worth a try.Shop Shea Nut Oil
Last updated: 7 October 2020