Shea butter—it’s not just for skin anymore. Thanks to its intense moisturizing abilities & ample nutrients, shea butter is a nourishing ingredient for dry elbows & your curls, coils & spirals. & with a nearly two thousand-year history in Africa, it’s a longtime beloved & trusted ingredient.1
Ready to explore the roots of shea butter & its healthy hair benefits?
In this blog, we’ll discuss shea butter benefits for hair, whether shea butter is good for your hair texture & how to use this rich ingredient in curly hair types.
What is Shea Butter?
Shea butter is a plant-based fat that’s derived from—you guessed it—the African shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa). Native to West & Central Africa, this tree grows shea nuts that have produced usable fats for centuries. To create shea butter out of the nuts, cultivators process the harvested nuts by:2
- Drying the nuts in the sun to remove moisture.
- Roasting the nuts over an open fire to remove remaining moisture & extract oils.
- Grinding the roasted nuts into a paste that’s mixed with boiling water, so that the shea butter & other solids separate.
- Filtering the shea butter through a fine mesh to remove any remaining impurities.
The result? A rich, oh-so-creamy substance full of hair-strengthening goodies—vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, fatty acids, triglycerides & more.3 The texture is similar to softened coconut oil or cocoa butter, making it easy to spread onto skin or into hair.
4 Benefits of Shea Butter for Hair
Time to break shea butter out of your skincare cabinet. This luxurious ingredient is an excellent addition to any curls routine, enriching each hair strand from root to end. Whether part of a deep conditioner or styling cream, shea butter could help your hair with:
- Moisture – It doesn’t get more moisturizing than shea butter. This specific type of oil is both a moisturizer & a sealant. This means shea butter can both add moisture to the hair cortex (or innermost part) & trap that moisture by coating the hair shaft.3 The result? Natural hair that’s hydrated from inside out—& won’t lose its hydration.
- Damage control – Nutrients like vitamins A & E, as found in shea butter, are the building blocks of your hair follicles, helping reduce split ends in curly hair. Also, the fatty acids in shea butter can help seal keratin (an essential hair protein) in your hair for extra strength.4
- Anti-inflammation – When your scalp feels dry & inflamed, your hair can suffer. In fact, scalp conditions like dermatitis & psoriasis are linked to hair damage.5 Using a conditioner with shea butter could help moisturize the scalp to reduce inflammation & help you put your hair growth goals back on track.
- Protection – Between the sun & pollution, your hair faces countless foes everyday. Luckily, shea butter has the potential to protect your hair from those harms well in advance. Shea butter has the antioxidant vitamin E, which could protect hair from sun damage, pollutants & other free radicals (toxic substances that increase damaging oxidation).6
Which Hair Types Should Use Shea Butter?
Hair care isn’t one-size-fits-all. You wouldn’t give someone with fine 2a waves the same products as someone with tight 4c coils. So, is shea butter good for hair that’s curly, coiled or straight?
Compared to other moisturizing ingredients, shea butter is richer. This means that it will suit hair that needs more moisture—i.e., denser & curlier hair types. Thin or straight hair may be weighed down by shea butter, creating a greasy & flat appearance. However, tight coils may thrive with that extra boost of moisture. Consider your own hair density, texture & needs before adding shea butter hair products to your routine.
How Can You Use Shea Butter on Curly Hair?
Ready to give your curls that buttery goodness? Then it’s time to bring shea butter into your curls routine—in your way.
This versatile ingredient can be used in a few different products, so that you can adopt it easily into your routine. Try any of these curl-tastic ideas to get that signature shea sheen:
- Use a styling cream – Forget waxy or crunchy styling gels. Instead, try a product like PATTERN’s Styling Cream formulated with shea butter to shape & form your curls. This is the perfect light touch of shea butter’s high-power moisture, so that you won’t weigh down your curls.
- Apply a deep conditioner – Reset with a shea butter deep conditioner to help your locks bounce back. After showering, apply our Heavy Conditioner or Intensive Conditioner from roots to ends & leave on for 10 minutes before rinsing.
- Combine with other ingredients – Every hair type deserves the custom treatment—so customize your own shea butter product! Mix shea butter with other natural oils, such as jojoba or coconut oil, to create a DIY hair mask with your exact preferred ratio of ingredients.
Enrich Your Hair with PATTERN
If moisture & health are at the top of your curly hair priorities (& when aren’t they?), then shea butter may be your new best-friend-in-hair. From vitamins to fatty acids, this natural ingredient is chock-full of the stuff that makes curls & coils shine.
Ready to bring shea butter into your hair routine? At PATTERN, we love incorporating this powerful moisturizer into our products—as well as other natural ingredients & essential elements. Explore our shea butter conditioners, style creams & other curly hair products to bring out your most luscious natural hair yet.
- "The Benefits, Uses, and History of Shea Butter and the Shea Tree." Saje Natural Wellness. Updated 22 June, 2022. https://www.saje.com/ingredient-garden-shea.html
- "Shea Butter: Origins and production." Kumar Metal. https://kumarmetal.com/shea-butter-origin-production/
- Gillette, Beth. "Shea Butter for Hair: 8 Best Products, DIYS, and How to Use It." Cosmopolitan. https://www.cosmopolitan.com/style-beauty/beauty/a40326929/shea-butter-for-hair/
- Gavazzoni Dias, Maria Fernanda Reis. “Hair cosmetics: an overview.” International journal of trichology vol. 7,1 (2015): 2-15. doi:10.4103/0974-7753.153450
- Risher, Brittany. "7 Healthy Scalp Tips for Strong, Shiny Hair." Healthline. 16 December, 2020. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/healthy-scalp
- Sandeen, Del. "Shea Butter for Hair: Benefits and How to Use It." Byrdie. Updated 30 September, 2022. https://www.byrdie.com/how-to-whip-shea-butter-400428