Incredible shea butter before and after transformations take place because of the power of this magical fat from the African shea tree’s nut. Found in East and West tropical Africa, the production of shea butter from this tree is the livelihood of many communities in these areas. It’s a labourous process that takes a few steps to complete, and it’s often women and children that harvest and process shea butter. This provides financial independence for women and children who are able to earn their own income. This article outlines the transformative power of shea butter and the reasons why so many people are uploading their shea butter before and after pictures to the internet!

A Brief History of Shea Butter

Shea butter can be traced back to Cleopatra’s time as queen of Egypt, when people used to carry it around in clay jars. Through the middle ages, shea butter was a popular trade item in West Africa and the surrounding coastal regions.

The shea nut tree has always traditionally belonged to the entire community and even on private properties, cannot belong to individuals. In the past, shea butter has been used in many ways and is still used in a lot of these ways in the present. Since at least the 14th century, shea butter has been used for soap making and skincare. Today, the butter is often still used by soapmakers because moisture is locked in to the skin by the oil of the shea butter. (FYI: it’s referred to as a butter but it’s actually an oil. Mind blown!). The tree represents financial indepdence and stability in hard times, and is at the heart of many communities throughout West Africa.

Shea Butter Before and After: Hair

Okay, so what kind of shea butter before and after story can you expect for your hair?

Well, people with curly, course or thick hair often use shea butter to manage and tame frizz and tangles. For these hair textures, shea butter works as a sealant to lock in moisture and keep the hair smoother and softer. The high fatty acid content of shea butter allows shea butter to penetrate the shaft. The oil content in shea butter itself also penetrates the shaft to moisturise these hair textures, or dry and damaged hair, preventing and repairing hair breakage.

Shea butter is great for adding moisture to the hair due to its emollient properties. Its rich essential fatty acids content and the Vitamin A and E content adds moisture to the hair and fights frizz and dryness. Who doesn’t want luscious, shiny locks? For the women (and men) who have to deal with their hair frizzing up at every opportunity, shea butter might be a solution.

The fatty acids may also protect against the heat damage to the follicles from hair styling equipment. People who apply heat to their hair daily may benefit from shea butter to keep it looking and feeling healthy. Vitamin E is extremely nourishing for hair. This article, is vitamin good for skin/hair, goes into depth about how your skin and hair can benefit from Vitamin E.

Shea butter can prevent and reduce scalp irritation as it’s anti-inflammatory. Its healing properties nourish the scalp without clogging the pores or causing redness. As a conditioner, it strengthens hair fibres and lubricates cuticles for healthy, shiny, happy hair. Sounds quite luxurious to me!

Before using shea butter on your hair, take the following into account. Shea butter can make thin hair appear flat and oily hair, greasier. Those with thicker, coarser or frizzier hair will reap the most benefits from shea butter.

Shea Butter Before and After: Skin

There’s a reason why women in West Africa smother their skin in beautiful shea butter. Ideal for sensitive skin, it’s soothing and highly unlikely to react with the skin (still, you never know though). Shea butter is great for relieving inflamed skin, which is what’s needed for skin that has been sizzling under the African sun all day. For skin exposed to the sun, something gentle but powerful is ideal. And shea butter is extremely nourishing to help the skin to repair itself after sun exposure, or for any inflammatory skin condition.

It’s also good for alleviating dry, tight and itchy skin, as it’s deeply moisturising and soothes the skin. Dry, cracking skin will benefit from the occlusive agents that seal in extra moisture. Oleic acid and stearic acid are two essential fatty acids in shea butter that give shea butter its heavy and rich feel. This is what makes the butter thick and deeply moisturising.

Oleic acid strengthens the skins healthy barrier function and cell membrane integrity. This stops the skin from losing too much water to prevent the skin from shrivelling up like a prune. It helps to restore the skin’s barrier to prevent trans-epidermal water loss. Stearic acid also strengthens the skin barrier, and shea butter is rich in this at 44%. The result is a shea butter before and after transformation from wrinkly prune to juicy watermelon. In another word: hydration.

Vitamin C is vital to skin health, both when applied topically and consumed internally. It’s highly praised in the beauty industry as one of the most important skincare ingredients for anti-aging. As we age, we lose vitamin C in the skin which causes wrinkles to form. Keeping the levels of this vitamin topped up allows the skin to maintain its elasticity and suppleness. Vitamin F found in shea butter protects the skin from the UV rays known to harm and age the skin, so it is another vitamin helpful in maintaining the vitality of the skin.

Linoleic acid is present in shea butter too, and works to regenerate the skin for healthy, new cells. This fatty acid is also recommended for people with acne-prone skin, so any shea butter before and after photos may even show an improvement in acne. Many people use harsh products thinking that the harsher the ingredients, the better the results, and the clearer the skin. This is not true: shea butter may be gentle, but it’s powerful, packing a major punch of nutrition for the skin to absorb.

Choosing the Best Quality Shea Butter

There are tonnes of shea butter products around, so it can feel daunting when trying to find the best: the shea butter of the upmost top quality. Each brand may make claims, but what separates the mediocre from the great is down to the company’s ethics and how the shea butter was sourced and processed.

Look for tubs of shea butter that are labelled as organic and unrefined. When shea butter is refined, many of the wondrous components are destroyed making it more unlikely that you will feel and see the potential benefits of shea butter.

Shea butter with chemical or plastic-like odour, will often be of poor quality. Look for shea butter with a nutty and earthy scent instead, and also be mindful of how it feels on your skin. You will know that your shea butter is of a high quality as soon as you massage it into your skin. The effect on your skin should be soothing and anti-inflammatory.

Make sure to check in with a company’s ethics. Choosing a company who are in touch with their morals and conscious of being sustainable is a good indicator that the shea butter will have come from a reputable source where the workers are paid a decent wage.

There are many tubs of shea butter with added chemicals we don’t want out there. The standard organic certifying body for the UK is the Soil Association. When you look for their logo on packaging, or search the company on their directory, you will know for sure that the shea butter has been made sustainably, ethically, and with no hidden ingredients sneakily slipped in.

Have you ever tried shea butter before? Do you have any shea butter before and after stories? Get in touch as we would love to know!


Written by Jess Burman

Wellbeing writer

BA (Honours) in Writing