What is shea butter?

For years, Shea Butter – the byproduct taken from shea nuts from the Vitellaria parodoxa trees in West Africa – has been used for many health benefits. Produced through a long-term harvesting process, the oil is extracted and then used in various ways to help benefit and improve our quality of life overall. Known as the “tree of life”, the source of this butter, the karite tree, has become a major part of the healing industry today.

However, despite being linked to everything from cooking and aromatics to fragrances and human healthcare, Shea Butter still has a confusing reputation. Let’s take a look at what this particular butter could be used for if you were looking for help in improving your general day-to-day health condition.

With usage dating back as far as the 14th century, what do we know about Shea Butter and being used in our hair?

Shea Butter For Hair: Benefits

Shea Butter is a very popular choice for hair care. It’s become a product often associated with general healthcare, but it has a much more diverse range of usages. If you would like to get the very most out of using shea butter, then some benefits that are linked to it include:

  • Some early studies have shown that Shea Butter is great for moisturizing your hair naturally.
  • Shea butter is also a useful anti-inflammatory source, thanks to the presence of amyrin
  • It’s great for working with on the scalp, especially for those with curly and/or coarse hair.
  • This anti-inflammatory product can help to reduce scalp irritation, encouraging growth. 
  • One study also links this to being great for avoiding broken hair and improving hair density.
  • The presence of Vitamin A and E can be useful for avoiding hair dryness over time.

Shea Butter Side Effects

As one of the lowest risk items that you could use to help boost your hair or skin, there are precious few worries about using shea butter. We’d recommend that you try and use this in smaller dosages, though, as it can have enough tree-nut proteins within to cause an allergic reaction if used in a high enough volume.

When used consistently but in small quantities, shea butter can deliver a very impressive, consistent series of results for both hair and skin care long-term. 


Written by Jordan Prichard. Medically reviewed by Dr. Shane Jackson, MBBS. Last modified on 20/05/2020. 


Dr. Shane Jackson a UK based doctor, working within the NHS for 9 years. With experience in both Medicine and Surgery, his time is now spent mainly in Elderly care and Rehabilitation. Outside of his clinical work he has a strong educational presence, teaching undergraduates and foreign doctors wishing to work in the UK. He is passionate about the dissemination of healthcare for all, providing consultancy for health, well-being and biotech startups worldwide. Dr. Jackson is the founder of Acrosophy, which helps school leavers applying to medical, dental and associated courses at the top universities in the country. 

Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn.

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