Unrefined Shea Butter is an all natural non-comedogenic moisturizer which, due to its cinnamic acid is also a natural sunscreen (SPF 6) and anti-inflammatory.[1] It is often preferred to other creams like cocoa butter due to its high proportion of healing fractions and the fact that it does not clog pores.

Saponifiable (Moisturizing) Fraction: Doctors note that humectants, occlusives, and emollients comprise the key ingredients of a good moisturizer. Humectant ingredients attract and retain moisture,[2] occlusive ingredients create a barrier to prevent water loss[3], and emollients smooth skin by filling in the cracks between cells[4]. Shea Butter is an humectant, an occlusive, and an emollient.

Unsaponifiable (Healing) Fraction: Good shea butter’s unsaponifiable fraction is generally about 7-12% (some say as high as 17%) vs 1% or less for other seed oils.

Vitamin A is an antioxidant also known as retinol which “has been shown to reverse the signs of natural or chronological aging (intrinsic) and environmentally induced (extrinsic) photoaging.”[5] Researchers also note that because retinol increases the production of collagen, Vitamin A “not only improves the skin’s appearance, but is an important means of protecting skin as it becomes more fragile with age”.[6] Finally, Vitamin A can “remove keratin plugs, one of the chief causes of acne papules and blackheads…When combined with a quality skin care cleansing regimen, application of the topical antioxidant vitamin A can reduce acne.”[7]

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that speeds cell regeneration. As a result, it can be used to treat scarring, wrinkles, and acne; it is also useful for treating sunburn.[8] Additionally, “some people apply vitamin E to their skin to keep it from aging and to protect against the skin effects of chemicals used for cancer therapy (chemotherapy).”[9]

Vitamin F is a linoleic acid, which is an omega-6 essential fatty acid (EFA). Linoleic acid “provides anti-inflammatory, moisturizing and healing support. It also helps fight acne, softens the skin, and keeps it supple and youthful. EFAs can also help facilitate the penetration of other active ingredients such as antioxidants, because of their ability to permeate the skin barrier... it also can help treat burns, cold sores and other minor wounds.”[10]

Vitamin K is an antioxidant that can be used “to remove spider veins, bruises, scars, stretch marks, and burns. It is also used topically to treat rosacea...After surgery, vitamin K is used to speed up skin healing and reduce bruising and swelling.”[11] Vitamin K also improves skin elasticity and reduces dark circles under the eyes.[12]



[1] May 2010 issue of the "Journal of Oleo Science," Toshihiro Akihisa

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