The hair tips, advice and recommendations given on this blog are given based on the experiences of the authors. These tips may not work for everyone and every hair type and it is important to acknowledge this since we are neither hair specialists nor trichologists.

Also many pictures on this blog belong to the authors but there are others that we do not have ownership for and thus we do not claim ownership of the ones that do not belong to us.

Friday, October 30, 2009

O shea! O shea O!

First, let us give thanks to God for shea butter!

Shea butter is called: “Nkuto” in Ghana; “Beurre de Karité” in French; and “Ori” in most places in Nigeria. If none of these names mean anything to you – Welcome to the wonderful world of Shea Butter!

Shea Butter comes from the Shea tree which is mostly found in West African countries like Ghana, Mali, Togo, Burkina Faso & Nigeria. Traditionally, the nuts from the tree (called Shea Nuts), are picked, roasted, and pounded. They are then boiled for several hours to extract pure unrefined shea butter. Pure shea butter is yellow or ivory in color and does not smell unpleasant. By unpleasant I mean it does not have an offensive “get this away from me or I am going to vomit now” type of smell. Having said that, I guess the issue of smell might be relative in this case. *sigh* It is advisable to use products made from pure shea butter rath

er than those where chemicals such as hexane are used.

The main question is this: Why does it seem like shea butter is the “product” of choice for black natural hair and black hair in general? It is because shea butter has moisturizing properties and it is an emollient. As a result, it adds to and maintains moisture in dry brittle hair, in addition to retaining softness and preventing breakage.

The key words are moisturizer and emollient:

1) Moisturizers: make the external layers softer and more pliable by increasing its hydration (water content) by reducing evaporation. Moisturizers prevent and treat dryness, protect sensitive skin, improve skin tone and texture, and mask imperfections.

2) Emollients: are substances that soften and soothe. They are used to correct dryness and scaling. Emollients have three basic properties: occlusion, humectant and lubrication.

a. Occlusion - providing a layer of oil on the surface to slow water loss and thus increase moisture content;

b. Humectant – increases water-holding capacity;

c. Lubrication - adds slip or glide.

To put it simply, shea butter is great for black hair in general and especially natural/nappy/non-relaxed black hair because it increases the water content in our hair; it also slows water loss in our hair thus increasing the moisture content in our hair.

General benefits of using shea butter on hair include: returns luster and shine to hair; absorbs quickly without leaving greasy residue like petroleum, beeswax or mineral oil based products; doesn't clog and block hair shaft; great moisturizer; protects against harsh weather and; revitalizes and prevents breakage.

**Side note: Shea is also edible, used in cooking oil, chocolates and cocoa butter.

Simple whipped shea butter recipe.


*4 tablespoons shea butter

*2 tablespoon cocoa butter

*4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

*A few drops of your favourite essential oil for fragrance


Melt the shea butter and cocoa butter over 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. Put 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 moisturizer and sealer for both natural and relaxed black hair. It also makes wonderful body butter.


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