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Natural Beauty Oils and Butter OCTOBER 2008

Many cosmetic companies use natural ingredients in their products in order to boost their appeal and effectiveness. However, a lot of the benefits for our skin, hair and body are lost through chemical processing. For maximum results, it’s best to use natural oils or butters in their unrefined states. Shea Butter: I use raw shea butter on a regular basis. Known scientifically as Vitellaria Paradoxa, shea butter is extracted from the nut of the shea tree. For centuries, Africans have used shea butter for its healing powers. In its unrefined state, shea butter is somewhat grainy, has a pale yellow to yellow color and a nutty, earthy scent. The butter melts at body temperature and is easily absorbed into the skin and doesn’t leave a greasy feel or clog pores. It is a natural source of essential fatty acids and Vitamins A & E. As a result, it’s great for keeping your skin smooth and soft. Not only does it moisturize the skin, but it can clear up blemishes and acne and keeps the skin clear. For more serious dry skin conditions – psoriasis and eczema, it can eliminate the dryness and itch. Over time I’ve noticed that my skin’s natural barrier has improved and sometimes I don’t even have to use any shea butter at all after showering. Shea butter also has been proven to provide UV protection equivalent to SPF 6; nice but it’s not high enough to go sans sunscreen. What are the other uses of shea butter? I use shea butter to moisturize my hair and scalp. It doesn’t weigh down my hair or leave a greasy buildup. I melt shea butter in a hot water bath and use it as a hair conditioner – alone or added to my store bought conditioner or with coconut milk – that leaves my hair very soft and manageable and eliminates dry, flaky scalp. Also shea butter can be used for shaving. It protects and softens the skin for a closer shave. Raw shea butter can be purchased at African and Caribbean beauty supply stores, health food stores or online. Check to make sure you’re purchasing Fair trade shea butter; that insures the women who cultivate it are paid fairly. Cocoa Butter: Cocoa butter (theobroma cocao) may be the more famous of the body butters. Before I started using shea butter, the only lotion or body cream I used was Palmer’s. It’s known for its pleasant scent and ability to minimize scars and stretch marks. Cocoa butter is primarily cultivated in Western Africa from the seeds of the cocoa plant. It is a stable fat with emollient properties and for that reason is used to make cosmetic products. It is also a natural source of Vitamin E, an antioxidant, which can protect against age spots, wrinkles and skin cell damage. Cocoa butter is great for chapped skin and lips because of its ability to heal and moisturize. I have a huge swivel stick of cocoa butter in my bag that feels great on my lips. At room temperature, it is a solid, but melts at body temperature for easy absorption into the skin and it can be used all over the body in its raw form. Now for the science behind cocoa butter’s power - the polyphenol antioxidant that’s found in processed chocolate is also found in cocoa butter. Cocoa mass polyphenol (CMP) inhibits immunoglobin IgE which has been known to aggravate dermatitis. Cocoa butter can calm inflammation of the skin. To prep your feet for sandal season, slather some cocoa butter on your feet at night and put on some cotton socks for a foot-softening mask. I still use cocoa butter after I tan; it minimizes peeling and makes the tan last longer.

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City Chick Magazine » Natural Beauty Oils and Butter

Tea Tree Oil: I started using tea tree oil about 10 years ago. Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) comes from the Melaleuca tree native to Australia. It has a medicinal smell similar to camphor or menthol, so it can be a turn-off to some people; I guess that’s a calling card for its antifungal and antiseptic properties. We’ve all been told not to pop pimples, but I still perform at-home extractions when I get the occasional breakout and then dab tea tree oil on the spot. The wound heals and in a day or so the dead layer of skin is gone revealing smooth skin. It’s comparable to using over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide (5%). However, tea tree oil can be too harsh for some people and irritate the skin or cause allergic reactions, so do a patch test first. It is also recommended that tea tree oil not be used “neat”, but in a solution. Tea tree oil is commonly sold with Vitamin E. Beyond the skin, tea tree oil can treat the fungus that causes dandruff. It is found in some natural shampoos, in place of menthol. Castile soap is a great natural liquid soap that comes in different varieties. Using the version that contains tea tree oil as a shampoo is a great alternative to brand name dandruff shampoos and is very cooling and refreshing. Applying tea tree oil to toenails can clear up any fungal infection that can cause dark or thick nails. Unlike other natural products, tea tree oil cannot be ingested. But it can be added to toothpaste or mouthwash to prevent bad breath. Only a small amount should be added to your toothpaste, or you can buy products that have tea tree oil as an ingredient. Olive Oil: We’ve all heard about the health benefits of using olive oil for cooking instead of butter, margarine or other vegetable oils because of the fatty acids and antioxidants. Olive oil (olea europaea) is also a great beauty aid. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is good for moisturizing the skin. “Pure” and “light” olive oils have been chemically processed and contain lower level of Vitamin E and phenols. When antioxidants are ingested and applied topically, they can slow the aging process. Vitamins E & K found in olive oil are also beneficial to the skin. I love to massage olive oil into my face after I use a clay mask. It’s not greasy and helps to clear up the skin. Olive oil can be used anywhere on the body; great for rough hands and dry elbows, knees or feet. After a shower, I sometimes rub olive oil on my damp skin, then pat dry. I also use olive oil to moisturize my scalp or as a hot oil treatment. My hands take a beating from household chores, and harsh dish detergents. For my at-home pedicures or manicures, I soak my feet and hands in warm olive oil. It feels great, softens cuticles and helps strengthen brittle nails. So if you are like me and want to have healthy and beautiful skin and hair…naturally…Give one of these natural oils and butters a try! -Abigail Ekue-Smith, ATC

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Nerhosshia posted on 10.14.08 at 10:49am Great article. I have been using natural products for years. I discovered shea butter for the hair and skin about 12 years ago. I love it. Olive oil is my base for everything along with jojoba oil. Great sources of vitamin E. I still use tea tree oil with some other oils for various purposes. My hair loves it. reply | flag

Mavis Brown posted on 10.13.08 at 08:00am This is an excellent article. This is good stuff. I will have to start using these intems more often. I will have to share this article with friends! reply | flag

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Natural Beauty Oils and Butters