Monday, July 28, 2008

Shea butter

You know, aloe vera is not the only thing I like to feed my hair.

Over the past few months, I've noticed that my hair responds well to Too Shea conditioner and Shea Moisture Leave-in. So, I recently decided to buy some unrefined shea butter to see if my hair will respond well to it.

Why unrefined, you wonder? Good question! Just like with food, you want to use shea butter that has undergone as little processing and adulteration as possible to preserve its natural gifts. To quote from the Agbanga Karite site:

...refined shea butter has usually been extracted from the shea kernels with hexane or other petroleum solvents. The extracted oil is boiled to drive off the toxic solvents, and then refined, bleached, and deodorized, which involves heating it to over 400 degree F and the use of harsh chemicals, such as sodium hydroxide. Shea butter extracted in this manner still contains some undesirable solvent residues, and its healing values are significantly reduced. Antioxidants or preservatives such as BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) or BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) may be added as well. The end result is an odorless, white butter that may be aesthetically appealing, but lacks the true moisturizing, healing, and nutritive properties of true traditional shea butter. In addition, refined shea butter is often hard and grainy, not smooth and creamy like pure, unrefined shea butter. All that can be said for refined shea butter is that it has an extended shelf life, a white, uniform color, and no odor.

I ordered mine from Shea Terra Organics (because I got a money-off coupon!). The smell ain't great, but then, I wasn't really expecting it to be -- I'd read enough to know that it doesn't smell all yummy like refined shea often does. I also learned that the aroma of shea butter varies depending on where in Africa it is from. Mine really doesn't smell all that bad. It reminds me some kind of barbecue or oven smell. And it doesn't linger, which is good.

I was really excited when it arrived today. After dinner, I rubbed about a dime-size worth of it (maybe a little less) between my palms until it was very melted (almost like oil) then I grabbed handfuls of my hair and squeezed. (My hair was very curly today -- lots of fog! -- and I didn't want to disturb those curls by pulling on my hair to distribute the shea butter. I've found that the heat from my hands is often a good way to transfer product of any kind from my hands to my hair.

I didn't want to use too much of this stuff because despite my hair's affinity for shea butter in other forms, I know that it doesn't take much to weigh my fine hair down. So rather than scrunch in so much that my hair felt coated, I stopped short of that and just made sure that everything in my palm got absorbed by my hair.

You should see my hair now -- even curlier than when I started applying it! Whee!

Depending on how my hair looks tomorrow, I might make a habit of this application every night. We shall see.


Long Curly Hair Blog said...

Dude, do you actually notice when you get comments here, like an email or something? I don't know yet. Maybe you will never read this.


I just tried shea butter in my hair like a week ago. It was awesome. It sucks that it's summer and I never wear my hair down these days so I don't get opportunities to try things with my hair down. But I put the shea butter on the end of my braid and it is totally gone the next morning.

I have also been using it to treat my natural wood hair accessories. I was advised that if I wanted additional protection on them I could put lip balm. But of course all my lip balm is gross mineral oil and stuff. So I've been putting shea butter on them.

Sage Vivant said...

Yep, I get an email when there's a comment -- so I read yours!

The shea butter does seem to get sucked right into the hair, doesn't it? I like that!

Good to know that shea butter can treat wood hair accessories!

Notty said...

I have Shea Butter which is supposed to be natural - it contains shea butter. sweet almond oil, camelia seed oil, jojoba oil, cornstarch, lavender essential oil, Vidamin E. I'm going to try it today. I have a quick question. You said the next day you don't co-wash it out. Do you just spritz with water or what? Love this Blog!

Sage Vivant said...

Hi, Notty! I think the secret is how much you use. I don't use very much at all -- just enough to make my hair look a little greasy, is all. I definitely don't slather it on! By morning, it still looks a wee bit greasy but my hair has absorbed a little of it. I don't have to co-wash to get it out -- just applying conditioner and letting it sit is all that's necessary for me. My hair has never been greasy after this, which amazes me!

So, you might want to experiment. Start with just a dime-size amount. Maybe if your hair is particularly dry or coarse, you can work up to using more. When you reach a point where conditioner no longer is enough to remove it all, you'll know your limit!