Shea butter is a golden oil expressed from the nuts of the African Karita tree, the unsung hero of natural skincare. The quintessential ingredient in African eye shadow blends, cleansers, foundations, sunscreens, and stretch mark remedies, it provides a natural source of stearic acid, a plant chemical that softens and moisturizes the skin.
Shea Butter is an Important Source of Antioxidants
To understand how the best shea butter benefits stretch marks, it’s essential to realize that shea butter really is not “butter” at all.
It contains not just fatty acids but also at least eight natural antioxidants.
Among them are:
- gallic acid
- epicatechin gallate
- gallocatechin gallate
- epigallocatechin gallate
- and tans-cinnamic acid.
These antioxidants recharge vitamin C.
The skin uses vitamin C to make the collagen that fills in stretch marks from the inside out.
Does Shea Butter Get Rid of Stretch Marks?
It’s the obvious question since a lot of dedicated stretch mark creams and other skincare products list Shea Butter as one of the main ingredients.
So what exactly is the link between shea butter and those pesky stretch marks?
It’s important to understand that shea butter benefits the treatment of stretch marks in one more way that no other natural ingredient does.
It stimulates microcirculation to the skin.
Red stretch marks are a sign of distressed circulation in the skin.
The antioxidants in shea butter increase circulation to the skin lying inside a stretch mark, providing it with oxygen and nutrients that help it grow to fill in the stretch mark.
Aside from its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, shea butter is also a powerful emollient.
There is quite a bit of debate as to which organic butter is better (shea or cocoa butter), but one of the uncontested properties of this butter is that it will significantly soften the skin and make it more supple.
And since shea butter can provide this long-lasting moisture, it also ensures that your body sheds dead skin cells at a healthy rate.
Because sometimes, these dead cells can sit atop our skin, making it look worse and not shedding. This mainly happens if the skin is dry or inflamed, as is the case for fresh stretch marks.
It is also believed that shea butter prevents keloid fibroblasts from reproducing.
Keloid fibroblasts are responsible for scarring, and for that harrowed appearance, a scar usually has. By not allowing them to reproduce, while also encouraging new cell growth, shea butter can be beneficial in the treatment of stretch marks.
One other enormous advantage of shea butter in treating stretch marks is that it is useful for every shade of skin.
Gentle enough for treating African-American skins, it is the main ingredient in the well-known cosmetics Oil of Olay and Xenna. It contains natural triglycerides that substitute for the lubricants stressed skin, forming stretch marks could not make for itself.
So, if you’re worried about how a product might impact your skin, make sure you look for a shea butter cream for stretch marks (ideally one without lightning agents, especially if your skin is a little darker).
But to answer the question we started from – does shea butter help with stretch marks? – we’d have to say that no, nothing can remove stretch marks completely. There is no magic cure, and expecting one will only result in disappointment.
What it can do, however, is greatly improve the appearance of your stretch marks. Shea butter can help them fade, promote cell growth, and enhance the softness and overall appearance of the stretch marked area. In time, stretch marks become less noticeable, and shea butter can significantly speed up that time.
But Won’t Shea Butter Trigger Allergies (Since It Is a Nut Derivative)?
No, actually. That’s yet another great thing about shea butter, that even though it comes from nuts, it contains a minimal amount of the proteins that typically trigger such allergies. So also, if you are allergic to nuts, you should be safe to use shea butter.
However, we do not claim to speak from a professional standpoint, and we highly encourage you to do a quick check-in with your doctor if you’re unsure of how your body might react to shea butter!
How to use Shea Butter for Stretch Marks:
You’ll first want to figure out whether you wish to use pure shea butter or go with a shea butter stretch mark cream.
While pure butter tends to be more potent and hydrate your skin better, it’s also much thicker. It can leave your skin feeling ‘coated’ in it and might even leave a bit of greasy residue, which is why some people prefer it diluted in a cream.
If you do decide to go for the pure butter, make sure you try and get raw African shea butter, since that is its’ purest form.
Once you’ve figured this out, you will want to use the shea butter (or shea butter product) at least twice a day, ideally after taking a hot shower, which will soften the skin and open the pores.
You want to massage the butter/cream into the skin, not just dump it on top, because that way, it has a harder time penetrating your epidermis.
Massaging your skin is also great for stretch marks because it stimulates circulation and, as we saw earlier, that can speed up the healing of fresh, red stretch marks.
You want to make sure you don’t exaggerate with the shea butter. It can feel nice on your skin, so you might be inclined to do a quick ‘top-up’ during the day.
And while nothing bad can result from this, you want to make sure you give your skin time to breathe. If it’s constantly drowning in moisturizer, that can prevent the normal cell shedding process.
Does Shea Butter Also Work on Old Stretch Marks?
We’ve talked a bit about fresh stretch marks, but what about older ones? Those white-silvery streaks, does shea butter work on them as well?
Yes, it does. Though keep in mind that it can’t be as efficient as with new stretch marks.
That’s because, with old stretch marks, your skin has given up on the healing process, so there’s nothing shea butter can support here. What it can do, however, is moisturize and keep the skin clean. By encouraging it to shed dead cells, shea butter can drastically improve the appearance and feel of old stretch marks.
Is Shea Butter Safe During Pregnancy?
Yes, organic shea butter is safe whenever you’re using it, during pregnancy, while breastfeeding, etc.
Shea butter stretch mark creams, however, are a different matter. While most of these creams employ natural products, you will want to check the ingredient list before using, if you’re pregnant or nursing.
That is because some of these creams can contain certain chemicals that are unhealthy and can pose a risk to you or your child. So always read the label!
Great, so How Soon Will I See Results?
This depends on how your own body reacts to the treatment, as well as on the severity of your stretch marks. Generally, it takes about 30 days for your skin to complete a cycle and for new layers to emerge, so there should be some difference within one month, both for old and for new stretch marks.
However, many people saw improvement (both in the feel and the appearance of their skin) in as little as 1-2 weeks.
The Best Quality Shea Butter
The location where shea nut trees and grown and how the shea nuts are harvested makes a huge difference in the quality of the final product.
All plants make antioxidants to help them deal with environmental stress. Shea nuts grown in shea nut plantations in the drier, hotter areas of West Africa contain up to 200 percent more vitamin E and other antioxidants than shea nuts grown in damper, cooler East Africa.
The desert-grown shea nuts also contain more of the moisturizing fats that keep the skin over stretch marks supple.
How can you tell that you have a high-quality product? The best shea nut butter is pressed through clay filters.
It retains a golden tint. This indicates that the product contains stigmasterol, a phytochemical that helps relax the skin to prevent stretch marks and wrinkling.
Golden shea nut butter moisturizes the skin to protect it from the drying effects of tanning creams and hot showers.
To Sum It All Up…
To treat red or purple skin marks, as well as old white ones, use organic products like Palmer’s Shea Butter for Stretch Marks (or unrefined shea butter) at least twice a day.
Be sure to apply the product just after you dry off from your daily bath or shower.
Unrefined shea nut butter for stretch marks will lighten red stretch marks without causing permanent coloration of African-American skin, and help keep skin vibrant, radiant, and wrinkle-free.