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An Expert-Approved Guide to Using Shea Butter for Healthy Hair

There is no end to the list of haircare ingredients that promote healthy hair. One we’ve been seeing lauded more often is shea butter. It seems to be the talk of the town if you’re looking for an extra dose of moisture. We wanted to learn more about this butter, especially when it comes to how beneficial it actually is for your strands. So, we reached out to Bay Area dermatologist Dr. Kaveri Karhade for the skinny on this haircare ingredient. Learn everything you need to know below!

shea butter for hair | Mane Addicts
(via Getty)

What Is Shea Butter?

We wanted to know a little bit more about this butter and where it comes from before diving into its benefits. Dr. Karhade shares that “shea butter is an extract from shea trees, which are native to West Africa.” She then explains that the ingredient is most commonly “used as a moisturizer and in cosmetics due to its emollient properties.”

Shea Butter Hair Benefits

It has anti-inflammatory properties.

One major benefit of shea butter for both the hair and skin lies in its anti-inflammatory properties. In an article from Healthline, they point out that a study done on the topical and dietary effects of shea butter highlights how it prevents your skin from reacting to irritants. “Researchers believe this is because shea butter contains the chemical compound amyrin, which has well-documented anti-inflammatory properties,” the article states.

It contains antioxidant properties.

Along with the anti-inflammatory properties, Dr. Karhade notes the butter has antioxidant properties as well. This is due to high levels of vitamins A and E, which act as anti-aging ingredients. Both your hair and skin will appear brighter and more youthful because of it.

It’s moisturizing.

Dr. Karhade shares that shea butter doesn’t just add moisture, it also helps your hair and skin retain it. The butter contains a high volume of fatty acids, which gives your strands the moisture it craves. So if you struggle with dryness, it may be the ingredient your locks are missing.

It can help soothe dry scalps.

If you struggle with a dry scalp or dandruff, listen up. Dr. Karhade notes that the butter’s “potential antifungal activity may be helpful for those who suffer from dry, itchy scalps, dandruff, or seborrheic dermatitis.”

How to Use Shea Butter on Your Hair

The best part about shea butter is that virtually every hair type can benefit from using it. “Despite being from a tree nut, it’s not likely for it to trigger allergies,” ensures Dr. Karhade. She does note that it may be the most beneficial for those with dry hair, “especially curly-haired individuals and/or those with damage due to processing,” due to its moisturizing properties. However, any hair type can find a way to work this ingredient into their routine.

Dr. Karhade recommends you use it as “a conditioner, a styling product, or a mask.” Those with “dry scalps can leave it on overnight and wash it off in the morning,” she shares. Another suggestion she has is using it as a mask once a week. “I’m excited by the idea of using shea butter once weekly as a mask for the scalp for those using hair growth topicals that frequently cause irritation, inflammation, and itchiness of the scalp.”

Best Shea Butter Hair Products

Fekkai Shea Butter Shampoo: $25

Made with sustainably-sourced shea butter and monoi oil, this shampoo will add softness and moisture into dry, dehydrated strands. With its ability to eliminate frizz, tangles, and split ends, you’ll never use a more nourishing shampoo than this one.

Fekkai Shea Butter Shampoo

(via Ulta)

Matrix Total Results Mega Sleek Conditioner: $15.50

Mega sleek strands are only a wash away, thanks to this conditioner. Shea butter is the star of this formula, offering to add smoothness and shine to your strands. It even manages frizz and protects against humidity.

Matrix Total Results Mega Sleek Conditioner

(via Ulta)

Maui Moisture Frizz Free + Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioning Mist: $8.99

A good leave-in conditioner can do wonders to protect your tresses. If you happen to have dry, damaged hair (especially curls), this mist is calling your name. Fortified with shea butter and aloe vera, it keeps your curls hydrated all day long. And you don’t have to worry about humidity ruining that either.

Maui Moisture Frizz Free + Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioning Mist

(via Ulta)

SheaMoisture 100% Raw Shea Butter: $15.99

There is no better raw shea butter on the market than this one from SheaMoisture. It gives you the endless possibility to DIY hair masks and other products, while also allowing you the ability to use it on your body. The best part about it is that it’s ethically sourced from women’s cooperatives in Northern Ghana. Whatever you’re looking for, this shea butter delivers.

SheaMoisture 100% Raw Shea Butter

(via Ulta)

Shea butter isn’t the only hair butter we love, so is cocoa butter. Discover the benefits of cocoa butter and our favorite products HERE!

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