Shea Butter: friend or foe? ‡

Shea Butter has become a major star in natural hair care and has found its way into the hearts (and hair) of many natural-haired women. Whether you use shea butter in its raw form or products containing shea butter, there’s no doubt that there’s magic to be found. 

I, myself, prefer to use hair care products containing shea butter (top five ingredients*); my low porosity hair does allow for the use of hair butters and raw shea butter is no exception. When inclined to use the raw form, I take great care so as to avoid greasy &/or dull-looking strands. Most of all, I appreciate the fact that shea butter also acts as a shield to protect my strands from tropical humidity. 

For most hair porosities, shea butter acts not only as a sealant but also as a  ‘softener’, performing double-duty of sealing in moisture and ensuring manageability. Its good stuff. 

High Porosity, Medium-Thick Strands

Can use: raw shea butter, products containing shea butter

This hair texture is capable of absorbing quite a bit of whatever is put on it….water, robust leave-ins, and for sure, raw shea butter. Use to soften, as an aide to seal in moisture and to strengthen hair strands. Deep-conditioners containing shea butter are a must-do to soften hair strands, apply leave-ins to hair in measured amounts but expect no product build-up /greasy hair; hair will be malleable, easier to style and manage.

 High Porosity, Thin Strands

Can use: products containing shea butter

Although high porosity strands are almost always able to absorb thick leave-ins to moisturise, using shea butter on thin strands is likely to yield greasy hair. Instead, use products containing shea butter as sealants and only if shea butter does not appear in its top five ingredients (is that possible these days?). Yes, products containing oils/butters can also be used as sealants (vs pure oils). Use in measured amounts. For the intrepid, a sliver of raw shea butter can be used as a seal on top of a light watery leave-in – the most suitable form of moisture for this texture.

 Medium Porosity, Medium-Thick Strands

Can use: products containing shea butter

This hair texture is tolerant of a wider range of products to soften and seal in moisture.  Deep-conditioning with products containing shea butter will yield great results; for leave-ins, use measured amounts – of products containing shea butter in its top 5 ingredients – to assist with hair manageability and to seal in light to medium moisturisers.

Medium Porosity, Thin Strands

Can use: products containing shea butter

Generally, using butters on thin strands will almost always give way to greasy hair. Experiment with products containing shea butter instead of using the raw form.

Low Porosity, Medium-Thick Strands

Can use: products containing shea butter

No to using raw shea butter, greasy hair &/or product build-up are likely to occur. Yes to products containing shea butter in the top 5 ingredients; in this form, use to seal in leave-ins of a light consistency. The use of raw shea butter – to seal in leave-in conditioners – is possible but only a sliver and on freshly washed hair ( the use of pure oils to seal is ideal for this texture). Use deep-conditioners containing shea butter to soften and make hair more manageable. .

Low Porosity, Thin Strands

Can use: None

A no-no. Expect greasy hair as well as dullness caused from product build-up; this hair texture is better off with light oils to seal.

How do you use?

 

*Ingredients are listed on product labels in a descending order by predominance of weight; the ingredient that weighs the most, is listed first while the ingredient that weighs the least is listed last.