Shea butter has been one of those simple ingredients that I’ve used pretty consistently in my hair care for years. Last summer I stopped using it because I felt like it was breaking me out. Now looking back, I’m also aware that my skin was possibly also responding to the emotional and physical detoxing that I was also doing at the time. Here are some pros and cons that I’ve discovered using shea butter in my natural curly hair care regimen.
1. The Perfect Soft Hold Styler
I personally don’t like setting my hair with hard hold hair gels. Flaxseed gel and aloe vera gel are the only two natural styling gels that I enjoy using. Yet shea butter provides a soft hold while smoothing my hair strands into place like no other. I always have the BEST long lasting braid outs when using shea butter as my styler.
2. Clumps Curls Together
Shea butter also has the ability to clump my curls and keep them organized unless I separate the curls myself. Clumped curls automatically equals less frizz until my next wash day. This also means I have more control over whether my hair stays compressed or expands to a very voluminous look.
3. Reduces Flyaways
Shea butter obviously isn’t an edge control per say, but it is still amazing at reducing flyaways and smoothing down the top layer of hair for updo styles or buns. I usually will tie a scarf over my hair to smooth it down when wearing my hair up if I desire a more polished look.
4. Seals in Moisture
I can easily go a full week in between washing my hair when using shea butter without feeling my hair getting dry because it seals in moisture much better than an oil can alone. Because of this ability to seal in moisture, it does have a serious con which I will address as well. I still will apply small amounts of oil and rebraid my hair at night to maintain this initial moisture.
5. Minimizes Single Strand Knots
I have been experiencing a major reduction in single strand knots since using shea butter again as well as setting my curls in braids versus styling my hair in a wash and go. I’ve had the braid out versus my love/hate for wash and gos discussion so many times on Minimalist Beauty because of the major issue of single strand knots that I experience with wash and gos. I always experience the least amount of single strand knots when using shea butter in combination with setting my curls with braid outs.
1. Can Be Greasy
Just like with using too much oil, using too much shea butter can make your hair feel greasy. I’ve found that a little shea butter can go a long way with sealing moisture into the hair strands. This won’t matter as much if you wear your hair up most of the time, but having touchable hair when worn loose is something that I find important. I remember hugging a friend years ago and seeing a grease mark on their cheek following. I was completely devastated and have reduced the amount of shea butter tremendously since.
2. Can Cause Dehydrated Hair Strands
Because shea butter is so amazing at sealing moisture into the hair, it will also repel water from entering the hair cuticle after it is applied. This will result in dehydrated hair if not using a good hair cleanser. Dehydrated hair will become brittle and break off over time. Whenever I use shea butter in my hair, it is extremely important that I use a very good hair cleanser to remove it completely.
Clay washes help remove all of the inital shea butter so that my hair can properly absorb water and fully hydrate itself when being washed. I will go no longer than 1-2 weeks in between washes so that my hair always remains fully hydrated. Dehydrated hair will not retain length if that is a goal.
3. Must Be Softened Before Application
You can never put shea butter directly into your hair without taking a moment to soften it thoroughly in the palms of your hands unless it is super buttery soft like this one. This can be a bit more time consuming. Another option would be to blend your shea butter with other oils and butters like this DIY Tropical Vanilla Hair & Body Butter or to create your own shea butter mix.
4. Can Weigh Hair Down
If you use too much shea butter, especially if you have fine density hair, your hair will be weighed down. Shea butter does offer me more control over my hair, yet if paired with other heavy products can be a disaster. This is one reason why I like to use shea butter sparingly and mainly with updos.
5. Not So Acne Friendly
Because I am acne prone, I mainly stick with only using high linoleic oils in general. I’ve been wearing my hair in some form of updo pretty consistently so hair isn’t brushing my face while also seeing how things work if I only use shea butter on the day that I wash my hair. Shea butter is high in oleic acid so not acne friendly. Only time will tell though.
6. No Zero Waste Packaging
This con only relates to those working towards a zero waste lifestyle, yet I haven’t found a location in Los Angeles that offers carrier oils or butters in bulk. (If you know if one please share.) Since reintroducing shea butter back into my hair regimen and seeing the incredible benefits it provides, I’ve been thinking about the best way to limit the packaging waste. The best approach I can think of so far is to order the largest amount of shea butter in bulk to minimize the amount of overall packaging versus purchasing a bunch of smaller containers.
What has been your experience using shea butter in your hair regimen if you’ve tried it?
(Image by Dawn Michelle)