Shea Butter's Not Just For The Wintertime

Every so often, you need to switch up your skin and hair care routine. Your locks and skin aren't getting bored per se, but when you lather up with the same oil filled with antioxidants, antibacterial and healing properties, those external elements out there start growing hip to your game. Trust me, eventually they find a way to break through. Sometimes, it's the change in season or climate that starts to create lifeless hair or breakouts and in that case, barrel on through. A great way to switch up your routine on a less-than-great hair or skin day is my old pal, shea butter.

For over a decade, I've been purchasing products made with shea butter to support the elasticity in my skin. Like many of my peers, I started to realize that I would not always have supple, wrinkle-free skin. I alternate between being short on cash and — therefore buying the cheapest product that even mentions shea butter — and times where that aging fear really gets to me and I buy $20 lotion in a tiny tube that's gone by the time I finish my legs. Regardless, shea products have been a legitimate over-the-counter addiction for me for years. It wasn't until I started to get some serious hair-height when I considered purchasing all-natural shea butter instead; low and behold this is the business for not just my skin but some slammin' hair butters as well.

Packed with vitamin E, vitamin A, and vitamin D, this edible cream is derived from the "Tree of Life" a.k.a the Karite Tree known for providing food, medicine, and beauty secrets. Once the Karite nuts are crushed and boiled, a yellowish thick oil is extracted and turned into shea butter. The linoleic, stearic, and oleic acids make this smooth butter ideal to fight blemishes, eczema, insect bites, and dry hair, among a long list of other things.

The difference between shea butter and our beloved tropical oils is this: Oils are known for their moisturizing properties and secondly for their healing properties while shea butter has extraordinary healing properties in addition to providing moisture.

Whipped Hair Butter

Check this out: Just 1/2 cup of shea butter and about 1/3 cup of coconut oil keeps my hair soft and moisturized all day. Melt your shea butter down (without boiling) and then add some liquefied coconut oil. When I'm in between washes, I spray my mane with just enough water to make it damp, then smooth in this heavenly butter. I like to add vanilla extract, but any essential oil to add additional aroma will work. This is definitely a heavy butter that works best with coarse hair.

Whipped Body Cream

Guess what? Your new whipped hair butter can double as body butter, too! I store this shea butter/coconut/essential oil combo in a mason jar in my bathroom and slather it on my skin after I apply to my hair. This saves money and time — and I'm allllll about that life!

Stretch Mark Cream

Even if you don't have little rugrats running around to keep you from extensive beauty routines, most of us will see a few stretch marks in our lifetime. There's nothing worse than being "rewarded" after shedding a few winter pounds with the sight of a stretch mark. Shea butter is a superior way to get rid of the stretch marks caused by steroid treatments commonly used to treat auto-immune diseases. This recipe from Rapid Home Remedies is easy and effective to remove these pesky stretch marks scars.

· 2 teaspoons of cocoa butter (melted)

· 2 teaspoons of shea butter (melted)

· 1 tablespoon of vitamin E

Without bringing to a boil (to avoid losing nutrients), melt your cocoa and shea butter together and add the pure vitamin E oil. Let your new mixture cool in a sealable container. Once in a solid creamy state you can lather this treatment directly onto your skin.

Ready to ditch those stretch marks or try out your new hair & body cream? Be sure to purchase pure shea butter to get the fullest amount of nutrients and look for a stamp of approval from the American Shea Institute.