Whenever shea butter is involved, you know that indulgent, buttery soft goodness is about to lavishly make its way to your dry skin.
While your go-to body butter that has a whipped and somewhat heavier formulation — as opposed to your standard body lotion — shea butter-infused products come in different tubs and potions to — quite literally — whip your skin into much-needed, soothing shape.
“Typically shea butter will be found in body and face moisturizers, but it can also be found in lip balms, hair conditioners and body washes,” Marina Peredo, MD, a board-certified dermatologist specializing in aesthetic dermatology and associate clinical professor at Mount Sinai Hospital with 32 years of experience, told the New York Post.
Ahead, we rounded up the 18 best shea butter products for your hair and skin, according to our board-certified dermatologist experts.
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Yes, we know shea butter has been clinically studied, a known ingredient to soothe the skin, but what’s its history? Peredo outlines the dermatological backing behind the superstar ingredient.
“Shea butter is a fat extracted from the nut from the African shea tree,” she explains. “Shea butter boosts moisture to the skin.” More, it softens and hydrates. It can also protect the skin from damage from the environment because it has many different fatty acids.
Shea butter not only has skin-moisturizing properties but also has anti-aging properties as well, according to a research report.
“It’s rich in fatty acids, which are highly moisturizing,” Adarsh Mudgil, MD, a dual board-certified dermatologist, dermatopathologist and clinical research professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, told The Post. “It’s also rich in vitamins A and E, which impart antioxidant effects.”
You may have been able to guess that shea butter comes from the nut of the African shea tree while cocoa butter comes from cocoa beans. But, while both are plant-based fats and help to moisturize and soften the skin, the ingredients are better suited toward specific skin types.
“Coconut oil and shea butter both moisturize the skin, but coconut oil is not always ideal for those who have oily or acne-prone skin because it can clog pores,” Peredo notes. “Shea butter can be used on all skin types, but if you have sensitive skin you should always be careful when using different products.”
If you start to become irritated, you should stop using the product and consult with your dermatologist.
There are two types of shea butter: raw or unrefined shea butter and refined shea butter.
“Raw shea butter is in its natural form and has more benefits, vitamins and antioxidants,” Peredo says. “Refined shea butter is when the natural color and odor have been removed.”
If you want the real deal when it comes to shea butter, then pick up the SheaMoisture 100% Raw Shea Butter. Not only is it less than $20, but its quite spacious tub has more than 2,000 Amazon shoppers in love with it.
“This is close to the source as one can get without going to Africa,” Mudgil explains. “This is an inexpensive product which works as an exceptional moisturizer.”
The Gold Bond Ultimate Softening Hydrating Lotion is less than $15 and is infused with a trinity of ingredients: shea butter, coconut oil and cocoa butter. It’ll help target dry and rough skin, for sure.
“This product contains shea butter, cocoa butter and coconut oil,” Mudgil notes. “It’s very moisturizing and your wallet will thank you!”
With more than 20,000 rave reviews on Amazon, the Okay African Shea Body Butter is only $6 and one with a riveting formula. Whether you use it on your face or your body, you’ll appreciate its all-purpose nature and creamy, scoop-me-up tub.
“This shea butter comes in two varieties — yellow (raw shea butter) and white (unrefined shea butter),” Mudgil notes. “If you’re interested in pure shea butter, this is the one for you.”
There’s nothing more indulgent than lathering on a feel-good body lotion post-shower, and the Dove Pomegranate & Shea Butter Whipped Body Cream fits the bill. Namely, it’s infused with that fruity, praline and vanilla trifecta that’ll leave the skin luscious, thanks to its whipped texture.
“This is a shea butter containing product, not pure shea butter,” Mudgil notes. “It’s quite fragrant, so it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.”
For just $4, the eos Shea Better Hand Cream is the perfect addition to your work tote or travel bag. It comes in a few fragrances that are all formulated without parabens, phthalates and gluten. Plus, it’s fast-absorbing and non-greasy.
“This is another inexpensive shea butter containing product,” Mudgil explains. “There are several fragrance options available to suit ones palate; might not be the best option for anyone sensitive to fragrance.”
For pure, lavish shea butter packaged neatly in a pocket-sized tub, the L’Occitane 100% Pure Shea Butter receives our stamp of approval. It’s ultra-nourishing and meant to alleviate dry skin, is enriched with vitamin E and can be used on your elbows, lips, cuticles, feet — just about anywhere you need a moisturizing boost.
“This is great to use on both the skin and hair,” Peredo says. “It also has vitamin E which has antioxidant properties.”
The SEPHORA COLLECTION All Day Body Hydrator with Shea Butter not only is travel-friendly but also vegan and mango butter-infused, a nice complement to the shea butter. That said, it’s one of the ultimate body hydrators.
“This is ideal for those who have dry skin and is formulated with mango butter, which soothes, while shea butter nourishes the skin,” Peredo explains.
Yes, shea butter is also found within some of the best makeup primers, including the luxury-leaning Yves Saint Laurent NU GLOW IN BALM Face-Priming Moisturizer. Made without parabens, mineral oil and silicones, it’s radiant finish is one that’s sought-after.
“You can use this product under makeup or wear on its own,” Peredo explains. “Glycerin hydrates and locks in moisture while shea butter softens and soothes.”
Nourish your locks to some shea butter-infused products, like Virtue’s Hydrating Curl Defining Whip. This hydrating, silicone-free mousse helps protect against frizz and environmental pollutants, especially, and is one to circulate in your haircare routine.
“This is great for those with curly hair, as this product helps hydrate hair,” Peredo notes. “I like that it is sulfate-free, paraben-free and formulated without silicones.”
A skincare product that contains shea butter and vitamin C? Sign us up.
The Tree Hut Vitamin C Whipped Shea Body Butter is only $10, too (another win!), is 100% vegan and the perfect refresher on your self-care days (and every other day, too, let’s be real).
“Shea butter and vitamin C work together to leave skin hydrated and soft,” Peredo notes. “It is paraben-, sulfate- and alcohol-free and isn’t greasy on the skin.”
As one of our favorite brands, Kopari Beauty has a Coconut Hydrating Body Milk that’s infused with coconut oil, shea butter and chamomile for the ultimate skin-nourisher and hydrator. It’s creamy formulation coupled with its jam-packed ingredient list (namely, fatty acids, vitamin E and proteins for deep moisture and hydration) make it a chosen one.
“This is a fast-absorbing body milk,” Peredo says. “Shea butter and chamomile work together to soothe the skin.”
If you’ve been dreaming of salon-like hair, then don’t walk — run — to the FEKKAI Shea Butter Gel Crème. For less than $30, you’ll appreciate its sulfate-free formulation, frizz- and humidity-reducing make and silky, smooth result.
Not to mention, Peredo says it’s ideal for those with curly hair to hydrate and nourish. “It also helps with frizz and split ends,” she adds.
The Olay Shea Butter + Peptide 24 Eye Cream is a less-than-$50 option that’s screaming: I’m good for dry skin. With its fragrance-free and silky formulation and vitamin B3 and peptide ingredient list, it’ll help leave your skin smooth and glowing.
“This eye cream helps reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffiness while also deeply hydrating the skin,” Peredo explains. “It’s gentle enough to use twice a day.”
Enter one of our favorite skincare products, probably ever. The 54 Thrones AFRICAN Beauty Butter is less than $25 and is perfect for ultra-dry skin. It’s also the perfect size to take with you on the go.
“This is good to use to hydrate dry skin and, in addition to shea butter, it has Boabab Oil and Jojoba Oil which nourish and soften the skin,” Peredo highlights.
To pair with the brand’s top-rated retinol cream, the Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Glycolic Body Lotion is just $25 and does wonders for your skin. It’s a lightweight consistency, which is great because it’s buildable, and the bottle is aesthetically pleasing (a bonus, of course).
“This lotion helps moisturize and product the skin barrier,” Peredo explains. “It does have AHA exfoliation, so it can relive rough, bumpy skin as well.”
Native’s Vegan Strengthening Shampoo with Almond & Shea Butter is an affordable, hair-nurturing product that helps protect your locks against damage. It’s vegan, made with simple ingredients (like shea butter) and even contains citric acid that helps provide pH balance to the hair.
“Almond and shea butter nourish the hair,” Peredo notes “It’s paraben-free, silicone-free and dye-free, too.”
Paula’s Choice has an Ultra-Rich Moisturizer that won’t cost you hundreds of dollars. It’ll help plump the look of your skin and smooth the appearance of wrinkle — all with its velvety texture.
“This moisturizer helps relieve dry skin and plumps and smooths the skin,” Peredo says. “It is a rich formula, so you should use during your nighttime skincare routine.”
To help combat dry and malnourished skin, there’s nothing more luxurious than the Dr. Barbara Sturm Anti-Aging Body Cream. Though it’s a bit of a splurge, it contains elderberry blossom extract and white almond extract, both of which help tighten the skin.
“This cream replenishes the skin leaving it smooth and supple,” Peredo highlights. “It’s formulated with Purslane, which is an anti-aging ingredient that [helps] reduce signs of aging.”
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