Shea Oil: Contraindications, Side Effects, Benefits And Uses

What is Shea oil?

Its name Karité means “Butter Tree” ; It is the result of a long process through which the walnut passes from where this substance is extracted.

It is a butter that in Africa is used daily both in cosmetology and in recipe preparations since it is also used as butter or shortening for frying.

It has multiple properties for the skin and is especially regenerative and prevents aging .

Origin of Shea Oil

It is native to Africa ; It was considered a very useful butter for its many properties and uses.

This oil is extracted from a tree that grows wild in Africa, gives rise to a nut that contains butter inside.

The extraction of the butter occurs mechanically after drying the nut; process that was carried out in ancient times by exposing the fruit to the sun; or by the emission of heat to the fruit through cooking with fire.

Its properties in favor of the skin and its regeneration and rejuvenation was what led to its export to other countries.

Shea left Africa via the Scottish explorer Mungo Park ; which took it to Europe and from there due to its properties it dispersed throughout the world.

The industry began to mass produce it, but it does not have the same properties as the pure butter extracted by the Africans.

Endless chemical substances are lost that make it a unique oil among therapeutic oils; so its use in pure form is recommended.

Shea Oil History

Shea oil in history is said to be Cleopatra’s choice for her skin care; as well as the manufacture of tombs with the wood of this tree, where the remains of great emperors rested.

It was used for its medicinal, cosmetic, and food preparation properties. It is very well known in African history and there is documentation to confirm it.

Only women could collect the fruits of the tree and only women could extract its oil; this rite is still part of the African culture. It is considered by the aborigines as a “Sacred Tree”; For this reason, its fruits are not extracted directly from the tree, but rather are collected from the ground; that is, only those that come off naturally are used.

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Shea Oil Characteristics

Its oily and viscous consistency, ivory in color, has no smell.

Scientific Name of Shea Oil

The scientific name is Vitellaria Paradoxa.

Chemical Composition of Shea Oil

Contains between 61 to 71% oleic acid ; stearic acid 15 to 25%; linolenic acid; palmitic acid, contains flavonoids; sterols (spinasterol and Delta 7 as stigmasterol).

It contains antioxidants such as vitamins E, vitamins D, vitamin A, vitamin F which give it a high power against free radicals product of cellular digestion; as well as prevention of different diseases and increase of the immune system.

It also has Lupeol in its structure, which helps slow aging as it inhibits the enzymes that participate in the breakdown of skin proteins.

Triterpenic alcohols that help reduce the inflammation already established, which is why it is of great use in the therapy of rheumatic diseases.

How is Shea Oil extracted?

The oil or better known as Shea butter is extracted from a centenary tree; It is approximately 15 meters high, with the same name as its fruit.

The fruit begins to appear after its ripening begins; that is, approximately fifteen years of the tree’s life.

The first production or harvest is poor but as the years go by it increases and it is from where profits are obtained, both for the therapeutic and economic part of the area (Africa).

Shea oil is extracted exclusively from the fruit or nut ; which is carried out with procedures and rites that are tradition since they come from the aboriginal culture.

Its form of extraction begins with the collection of the fruits that the tree expels; that is, the fruits that fall to the ground.

They are collected and then they are washed, crushed and roasted (in the sun or heat from the fire), they are passed through a mill, the result of which is a fine mixture of light brown color.

This pasty and liquid mixture is beaten manually to separate the butter from the other liquid components.

The butter resulting from this process is brought to a boil and then filtered , which must be carried out continuously or repeatedly to eliminate any residue that is not part of the real components of the butter.

The resulting color of the mixture will be like honey, which when left to stand clears and solidifies like a butter.

It is the traditional form of extraction and the one that best preserves its chemical components and properties or benefits for therapeutics.

It is work done by the female gender of the African tribes and population ; since it is a rite that has been respected for centuries and is currently a source of work and important economic income for the area.

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Active ingredient of Shea Oil

The main active principle of Shea butter is the unsaponifiable fraction ; made up of alcohols such as triterpenic, hydrocarbons and sterols.

This principle makes it unique, since in mackerel oil there is up to 3.5 to 17% by weight of unsaponifiable fraction; which does not happen except in a maximum of 1% compared to other vegetable fats.

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Uses and benefits of Shea Oil

The properties of Shea butter make it unlimited ; since its use is not confined only to the therapeutic or cosmetic part; but also, to the nutritional part when it is ingested in food.

This type of oil has the main function of being regenerative; property that gives it its chemical structure, which provides large amounts of unsaponifiable acids, fatty acids and vitamins that acting together form a miracle of nature.

The natives were not mistaken when they named this tree as “Miracle Tree” ; since the number of benefits are so important that if they are described, it is a book that would have no end.

It really cannot be described exactly which of the benefits is more important than the other because the components that lead to each are intimately linked to each other.

But among the benefits that can be obtained according to its properties, are:

  • Fatty acids (palmitic; stearic; oleic; linoleic); together they provide the body with antioxidant properties, improves blood circulation, improves vision; protects against cardiovascular risks; lowers triglycerides and cholesterol.
  • As well as it has a hypotensive effect; reduces insulin resistance; reduces joint inflammation and helps with the immune system increased lymphocyte production; It helps at the neuronal level and its proper functioning and acts in the production and hormonal secretion of the endocrine system.
  • The unsaponifiable fraction interferes with the synthesis of vitamin D; Essential for the body as it prevents rickets (as its main function).
  • Vitamin F ; It is not part of the vitamin complex although it is called as such since it is a mixture between omega 3 and omega 6 ; Polyunsaturated fatty acids acting on the Central Nervous System, decreasing cortisol levels, producing an antidepressant effect.
  • It has a synergistic effect with saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamins to enhance its therapeutic effects.

These and many other benefits are achieved with the use of Shea butter or oil; everything will depend on the continuity of its use and the ingenuity of each person to find new uses.

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What are its benefits for the skin and face?

It is a powerful regenerator ; It can be used to accelerate the healing of wounds and diseases that influence the degeneration or peeling of the skin.

It provides the skin to recover and maintain its softness, that is; It is a special emollient for the skin of the whole body including the face.

Protects from the sun’s ultraviolet rays; and the use in oily skin does not provide greater shine; Rather, it balances oil levels and forms a non-greasy protective layer on the skin that feels fresh and long-lasting.

Does it have many properties for hair?

The properties for the hair and scalp will range from therapeutic to cosmetic ; since it regenerates the hair strand giving it strength and recovering its hydration from the root; keeps the scalp free from flaking.

Prevents dermal diseases such as psoriasis, pediculosis infestations; decreases alopecia and helps hair growth.

Use of Shea oil for cellulite and stretch marks

Cellulite in aesthetics a serious problem for women ; It is the result of a poor distribution and accumulation of fats and toxins due to a deficit in the functioning of the lymphatic, renal and digestive systems.

Shea oil applied in massage produces an increase in blood circulation in the area and the disintegration of accumulated fat; This added to the fact that it is an antioxidant, releases through the activation of the lymphatic system the elimination of toxins and fat that produce what is known as orange peel.

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Regenerates the skin and gives it firmness which guarantees a better appearance.

Prevents the formation of scars or stretch marks due to loss of skin elasticity in cases such as adolescence, pregnancy, sudden weight gain and loss, obesity.

It fulfills this property because it intervenes in the synthesis of collagen, elastin and vitamin E; responsible for keeping the fibers of the skin cells together, which guarantees a better use of their functions, better blood circulation and supply of oxygen and nutrients.

Is it good for wrinkles? How to use?

Shea butter or oil is the best when it comes to preventing aging; since its great variety of chemical compounds give the organism a unique vitality in the cell regeneration of the skin and recovery of its firmness and tone.

Wrinkles on the skin are the result of the loss of protein synthesis caused by the production of enzymes that degrade it with age.

These enzymes interfere with protein synthesis (their protein degradation is greater than production) and this causes a loss of skin tone, making it thin and prone to wrinkles, wrinkles or fine lines.

Shea butter activates protein synthesis (collagen) which restores firmness to the skin and therefore its rejuvenation.

In a few words, as the aborigines define it, it is a “Miracle Tree”, the properties of its fruit are unmatched.

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Shea oil for pregnant women

Shea oil is ideal for use on the skin of pregnant women and without any type of contraindication that can have serious consequences for the mother or fetus.

Its use is recommended to avoid stretch marks and provide the skin with greater elasticity and lucidity.

It does not have any type of restriction unless the person is allergic to latex and the small amount of latex that it has produces a reaction.

It provides the skin with deep hydration from the inside to the outside, going through all its layers and regenerating each one, so that the difference is noticeable with its daily use.

Protects the skin from chafing caused by tight clothing and improves blood circulation, which generates greater well-being in the health of the legs.

It is hypotensive, hepatoprotective; It prevents thrombosis , thus avoiding complications such as pre-eclampsia, eclampsia and syndromes that would endanger the life of the mother and the newborn, such as Hellp’s syndrome.

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Can it be used while breastfeeding? Why? How?

During the first three months of the newborn’s life, the mother’s nipples tend to crack; so it is extremely painful to have to breastfeed under these conditions.

Shea butter or oil is recommended in these cases as it helps wound healing and in turn hydrates the nipple, which improves and prevents further damage; that is, it conditions the nipple so that the suction generated by the baby does not cause future injuries.

Mothers are concerned about placing creams or oils on their nipples since they have direct contact with the baby.

Shea Oil is harmless for the baby ; so its use will not cause any negative effect; Unlike; It will hydrate the baby’s lips that also tend to chap.

In Africa it is used as butter and in industry it is able to substitute (for example) cocoa in the manufacture of chocolate. So if the baby consumes part of the butter that is placed on the nipple, nothing will happen to it, as it is edible.

In babies it is of useful help too; as it helps to improve skin problems resulting from the hormonal load transmitted from the mother, which generates neonatal acne .

As well as; in cases of atopic dermatitis, diaper rash peeling or fabrics that have direct contact with the baby’s skin.

Shea cosmetic properties

In the cosmetic industry, Shea oil can be found in the ingredients of the best creams, lotions, ointments for the regeneration and rejuvenation of the skin.

Most of the expensive cosmetic creams on the market contain this oil in their composition; and it gives the product a high degree of quality and preference for use.

Although the best way to take advantage of its properties is to do it with 100% pure butter; as the African work because its chemical components remain intact which ensures its benefits on the skin and health in general.

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Aromatherapy and Shea oil

Shea oil or Shea butter is a carrier for essential oils. It is a base oil for the use of essences.

Base oils are not volatile; on the contrary, they fix on the skin, making a protective layer; essential oils have the peculiarity of being volatile and their duration on the skin is short.

It is for this reason that depending on the use that you want to give to a certain essence, the vegetable oil or base is chosen to enhance the effect.

Or the opposite case may occur; wanting to increase the effect of the base oil such as Shea oil with some essence to use as aromatherapy and deepen its action.

This is why these butter-like substances are of great importance for aromatherapy since essential oils by themselves would cause damage, toxicity to the skin, due to their high degree of concentration; but used with a base oil, this toxic effect decreases and its benefits can be taken advantage of.

Contraindications and risks of Shea Oil

Generally there is no risk to use it; With exceptions that the person is allergic to latex and the small amount that shea oil contains may cause an allergic reaction.

It is recommended to use a small amount of Shea oil on a portion of the skin and wait a few minutes; if there is no redness or itching; it is safe to use.

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Shea Oil Technical Data Sheet

  • Family: Sapotaceae
  • Species: Vitellaria Paradoxa
  • Class: Magnoliopsida
  • Genus: Vitellaria
  • Common Name: Shea Oil
  • Active Principles: saturated, polyunsaturated fatty acids, unsaponifiable fraction; vitamins A; D; E and F.
  • Properties: Regenerative and anti-aging.
  • Contraindication: allergy to latex.

Almost all essential oils

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Kathie Sand always saw the world of beauty as the terrain on which to build her professional career, a goal that was clear to her when she was only 15 years old. Her great concern to expand knowledge led her to settle in Paris where she studied hand in hand with the best beauty professionals and with the most advanced techniques for skin care.

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