Shea butter is a natural skin emollient that’s been used for decades to treat a wide range of ailments. Extracted from shea tree nuts, it has a lovely ivory colored hue and super creamy consistency, and generally is sourced from trees in west Africa.
African shea butter has a stellar reputation for treating dry and damaged skin, thanks to its high content of essential fatty acids and anti-inflammatory properties. These are fatty acids that are crucial for internal and skin health, but can’t be synthesized naturally by the body. They function as the building blocks of healthy cell membranes, and are key for protecting your skin’s natural oil barrier, retaining hydration, and keeping things plump and youthful. Because of this aspect of shea butter, it’s typically thought of as a plant based solution for dry and aging skin.
While this is true, it’s also an effective supporting ingredient in formulas designed to battle acne. This may come as a surprise, given its thick and heavy texture, but it can actually be super healing when it comes to battling blemishes. It absorbs readily into the pores and is non-comedogenic, meaning that it won’t clog pores and hair follicles, or create blockages that will turn into cysts. And because its texture and chemical composition is similar to sebum, it can actually reduce your overall oil production by restoring your skin to a state of balance. Its 60% fat composition will bolster the strength of your lipid layer, injecting and locking in Vitamin A and Vitamin E, both of which are key for healthy cell reproduction.
Raw unrefined shea butter is packed with antibacterial and anti-microbial properties, making it an excellent remedy for inflammatory acne. Bacteria is one of the central culprits behind the beginning of a breakout, combining with dead skin cells and excess sebum to create a pocket of inflammation in the pore. Using natural products (like shea butter) which get rid of bacteria is an important aspect of effectively reducing conditions on your face that produce breakouts.
Along with its preventative care potential for acne sufferers, raw shea butter is good for every step of the way in the acne cycle. It can be used to dial back inflammation on live blemishes and is also known to be helpful for reducing the appearance and redness of acne scars in the aftermath of a breakout. Its high content of vitamin E means that shea is an antioxidant powerhouse – this contributes to the healthy recycling of old damaged skin, to reveal new skin beneath. Stearic fatty acid and allantoin work alongside the Vitamin E to amp up cell regeneration.These healing properties can help promote a reduced or completely eliminated post-acne scars.
With these benefits in mind, we’ve included shea butter in a number of our Puristry products. Our Vine Therapy Serum combines the healing power of shea with organic grape seed extract and acai gum. It’s an amazing product to use as an everyday defense mechanism against daily skin stress, and can reduce the redness and severity of acne when combined with a clarifying cleanser.
Shea also features in our Yerba Mate Eye Cream, this time combined with the caffeine jolt of yerba mate, effectively delivering antioxidants, increased circulation, and skin cell regeneration to the delicate eye area. Finally our Seaberry Moisturizer is another shea-based formula. This one is excellent for skin that suffers from combination dehydration. It delivers organic aloe water for increased hydration, alongside shea to fortify the lipid layer and help re-strengthen skin, so it can protect itself against bacteria. Moisturizer is key for acneic skin, which can suffer from increased pore blockages if dead skin cells are not adequately released in a regular cycle (and adequate moisture is an important part of this process).
These synergized plant chemistry formulas have the green light for acne prone skin, but what about shea butter on its own?
Avoid refined shea butter that has been chemically processed, filtered, or treated with preservatives. This degraded form of shea can cause allergic reactions, and the mineral and fatty acid composition of the original plant matter is generally degraded through this sort of processing.
Pro tip: color can be a good indicator of how pure the shea butter is. If the product is raw, pure, and virgin, there should be bits of soft shea nut in it, and it should be an off white or even yellow color. It should have a nutty and slightly sweet odor. If it doesn’t, it’s likely been processed, and therefore will not pack the same punch of valuable nutrients and acids.
Once you’ve sourced your pure shea, try incorporating it into your skin care routine as a mask or a spot treatment. Used during the night time, you’ll wake up with a balanced complexion, reduced acne redness, and a glowy, moisturized dermis. Make sure to always wash your face before applying shea butter for the best results! Whether you’re dealing with live acne or post-acne blues, shea butter is a valuable acne treatment resource you should have in your skin care arsenal!