Struggling with dry, flaky or splotchy skin? Shea butter could be the answer. We take a look at the moisturizing benefits of this intensely hydrating ingredient.
How moisturizers help dry skin
When looking to give skin a boost of long-lasting hydration, it’s important to know the difference between the various kinds of moisturizers on the market. As a general rule, skin experts distinguish between two main types of hydrators: emollient sand humectants. Simply put, while emollients cover the skin with a protective layer, impeding water loss and softening skin, humectant ingredients actually increase the skin’s water content by attracting and binding themselves to water molecules.
Shea butter is a great emollient, as well as being rich in antioxidants
Shea butter is a great emollient, as well as being rich in antioxidants. Its rich texture makes it a popular choice for body moisturizers. Not only is shea butter an effective moisturizer, it has been linked with a number of topical skincare benefits, including improving skin softness, reducing itchiness and soothing symptoms linked to inflammation.
Shea butter: a great all-natural moisturizer for sensitive skin
Although an effective moisturizer for all skin types, shea butter could be a particularly good choice for sensitive skin. Research has shown that women self-identifying as having sensitive skin report increased dryness, as well as soreness and itchiness.
Initial studies suggest that shea butter can improve the appearance of skin suffering from eczema when compared with Vaseline. Other research indicates that shea butter has a positive effect on inflammation and redness - common symptoms noted by women with sensitive skin.
This makes shea butter an ideal moisturizer for dry, delicate skin.
 Del Rosso, J. ‘Repair and Maintenance of the Epidermal Barrier in Patients Diagnosed with Atopic Dermatitis’ in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology 4.6 (2011) pp. 45-55 [Accessible here]
 Verma, N. et al, ‘Anti-inflammatory effects of shea butter through inhibition of iNOS, COX-2, and cytokines via the Nf-κB pathway in LPS-activated J774 macrophage cells’ in Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine 12.9 (2012) doi: 10.1515/1553-3840.1574 [Accessible here]
 Belibi, S. et al, ‘The Use of Shea Butter as an Emollient for Eczema’ in American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 123.2 (2009) pp. S41 [Accessible here]
 Verma, N. et al [See above]