How To Use Shea Butter For Natural Or Relaxed Black Hair

How to use shea butter

Learn how to effectively use shea butter to seal moisture into your hair

Shea butter is an ivory coloured fat extracted from the nuts of the shea tree. It is used widely in cosmetics as a moisturizer and sometimes used in the chocolate industry as a substitute for cocoa butter.

The use of shea butter has increased in popularity in the last few years with the increase in demand for more natural products for black curly hair types. Although its popularity in the west has only increased in recent years, in some parts of Africa it has been used for hundreds of years!

The best shea butter to use is the unrefined kind as all its healing properties are still intact. The refining process apart from adding different chemicals to the shea butter raises the temperature to about 400 degrees F which makes it lose some of its healing properties. Unrefined shea butter comes in blocks or can be bought already packed in jars. It is odourless if 100% pure or can be bought ready fragranced with essential oils.

Using it on the hair can be in a variety of ways.

• You can apply it straight to damp hair. It tends to be a bit hard in its natural state but will readily melt and be absorbed when it comes in contact with the skin or hair.

• You can also make shea butter easier to apply. Place the shea butter in a double boiler and melt it on a low heat. Add a natural oil to the shea butter e.g. extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil and stir until thoroughly mixed. The natural oil should make up about ¼ the volume of the shea butter. Pour the mixture back into a jar. Due to the addition of the olive oil, the shea butter will remain relatively soft when completely cooled and set and is easier to apply to the hair.

• Another way of using shea butter is to whip it with a few other natural ingredients and essential oils to make a homemade butter. A simple recipe is below.

Shea butter crème

1. 4 tablespoons shea butter
2. 2 tablespoon cocoa butter
3. 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4. A few drops of your favourite essential oil for fragrance

Melt the shea butter and cocoa butter in a double boiler over a low heat until melted and add the olive oil. Pour the oils into a bowl and at this point, add a few drops of the essential oil for fragrance. Put your bowl over another bowl filled with ice to allow the oils to set faster. Whisk vigorously until the mixture is light and fluffy (you may want to use an electric hand whisk for this. Spoon into a jar and enjoy!

This recipe makes an excellent hair sealant for both natural and relaxed black hair. It also makes a wonderful body butter! See the article on how to choose a moisturizer.


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About Alma

Hi! I'm Alma Ruddock, a full time blogger. I stumbled on a hair care forum in 2008 frustrated with my breaking relaxed hair and the information that I found there changed the fate of my hair forever!. I started as a way to help both myself and other women of color achieve their dreams of long healthy hair. I have now achieved my goal length and I continue to bring new information about hair on both this website and my personal blog.

  • Michelle Moore

    I really like to use shea butter over cocoa butter on my stretch marks. I feel like cocoa butter gave me an odd scent :/

  • BHI

    Raw cocoa butter doesn't smell the same as the vanilla scented stuff we are used to!

  • Diane C. Dejean

    Where do you find shea butter?

  • Janice Banks

    Any hair supply store, or health food store.

  • Maria Anthony

    Hi! My hair doesn’t grow at d edge, is sooo bad. I can’t comb my hair backward without parting it. Pls any suggestion(s) of hw I can have front hair? Tnx!

  • Ruttie

    i”m a nigerian and seriously most of us here have tragic hair stories…only the lucky ones have long hair….fortunately my family members have long hair buh unfortunately it skipped out on me and atimes it feels horrible…my hair is short scanty and unattractivee….i’ve tried everything but it seems to bail out on me…dunno what to do anymore cos i’m tired of using wigs and headties…will try using shea butter…..but do u pls hv any other suggestions

  • Regina

    I am relaxed but just took out some braids, so I decided to try and make my own whipped shea butter, I melted 3/4 c shea butter, and added 1 tablespoonful of Coconut oil, I washed my hair and then put the mixture on and sat under the hairdryer with a plastic bag on for about 15min..My hair had a horrible feel to it, kinda like a matted sticky mess..WHAT went wrong?

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