The first time I discovered the natural hair community, what intrigued me the most was a strong emphasis on using natural, organic products (and the importance of reading the ingredients list). One of the products that was common in most YouTube videos that I watched and blogs I read was Shea butter! I had never seen nor heard nor come across it before! All the ladies on the videos attributed the softness and shine of their hair to this wonder butter. So I had to get it! Who doesn’t want soft, shiny hair?! In 2011 it was not as widely available as it seems to be now so I really struggled to get my hands on it…but Google came to the rescue (as it always does!) and I found a South African online store that only sold refined shea butter. They were called Windrose then, but since changed their name to CJP Chemicals. Even though it was refined I bought it, of course! If that was the closest I was going to get to the real thing, I was going for it! I was so excited and couldn’t wait to receive my package and try it out.
When I got the package a few days later, I eagerly ripped the package open and *insert angelic chime* marvelled at the wonder butter! I mixed it with the recommended oils (a bit of coconut oil and olive oil) from one of the videos I had watched. It worked beautifully and I have never looked back since!
Well… what is it? In brief, shea butter comes from the nut of the African Shea tree. This tree grows naturally in West Africa. The locals pick the nuts from the tree and the nut goes through a process of cracking, crushing, roasting, grinding, and separating in order to extract the fat that makes this awesome butter. It is edible so it is used in food preparation too!
A few years later, I found reasonably priced unrefined shea butter and that is what I still use now. I have continued to use shea butter because:
- It’s amazing!
- It is great for hair; it works exceptionally on my thirsty, kinky, coily texture. It conditions my hair and locks in moisture after I have washed or dampened it. It leaves my hair soft without the crunchy straw-like feel.
- Not only is it great for hair care, it is great for the skin too! It melts at body temperature and absorbs into the skin well. It also has medicinal properties.
- Did I mention it’s amazing!? 🙂
Just be careful not to be duped into buying fake shea butter. Check out one of my favourite YouTubers Green Beauty Channel as she tells how to spot the real unrefined shea butter from the fake and also other amazing facts about this wonderful product!
I’ve seen a lot of products on the shelves making shea butter prominent on their labels, they are probably good products (depending on the rest of the ingredients) but in this post I am talking about raw/unrefined shea butter. Accessibility to it is now better than before; I have not yet come across it in any of the large retailers such as Clicks and Dischem but a quick online search will come up with some online stores, e.g.:
Some African shops will also have a supply. If you’ve got other accessible places to buy from in your area, please share in comments section to help us out! ;). If you are really struggling to get some, let me know.
The beauty of this journey is discovery. If you haven’t tried shea butter yet, I suggest you give it a try, it may just be what your hair (and skin) needs.