What is shea butter?
Shea butter refers to fat that has been extracted from the shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) nuts. Shea butter can be either off-white or ivory-colored and it has a creamy consistency, making it easy to spread on your skin.
Since shea butter has high concentrations of fatty acids and vitamins, it’s the perfect cosmetic ingredient for softening skin. Shea butter also has anti-inflammatory and healing properties, and using it on your body, particularly your face, can help condition, tone, and soothe your skin.
If you have dark spots on your face due to hyperpigmentation or if you just want to have a healthier complexion, shea butter can help brighten your skin.
What causes skin discoloration?
Dark spots on the face can be caused by various conditions such as:
- Age spots/liver spots – Age spots often appear on your face and hands as you age. However, younger people can also experience this condition. Like other pigment disorders, age spots may also be aggravated by sunlight.
- Erythromelanosis follicularis faciei (EFF) – EFF originates in the follicles and it can cause dark spots on the face. The condition can also cause redness.
- Melasma – Melasma refers to a type of hyperpigmentation that usually affects a person’s forehead, cheeks, nose, chin, and upper lip or mustache area. This condition is linked to hormonal changes, which could be why melasma is more common in women than in men. When melasma occurs in pregnancy, the condition is called chloasma or a “pregnancy mask.”
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation – This condition may occur as a reaction to an injury, like acne vulgaris or eczema.
If you have dark spots, a dermatologist may recommend fairly extensive and expensive procedures like chemical peels, dermabrasion, or laser resurfacing for your condition. But if you don’t want to undergo these procedures, you can try natural treatments for facial hyperpigmentation.
The health benefits of shea butter
Shea butter offers many benefits: It can help address acne, dry skin, eczema, and signs of aging. It even has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities, suggesting that it can help lighten dark spots on your face. (Related: The Numerous Topical Benefits of Unrefined Shea Butter.)
One study suggests that vitamin E can “effectively treat melasma and pigmented contact dermatitis,” making it a “highly effective depigmenting agent.” It is not surprising, therefore, that shea butter is good for pigmentation since it is rich in tocopherols, a group of antioxidants commonly called vitamin E.
Shea butter provides excellent moisturization, which makes it a natural and effective ingredient to use if you have dry skin. You can also use it as a base for your own natural and non-toxic skin care products. Other skin-brightening ingredients that work well with shea butter include ginseng, lemon, and turmeric.
Additionally, if you want brighter skin, don’t use store-bought products with harmful ingredients like corticosteroids, hydroquinone, and tretinoin. Instead, make your own skin-lightening cream using shea butter, which can naturally help even out skin tone and remove darker patches.
If you are diagnosed with facial hyperpigmentation, say no to expensive and invasive methods. Stick to natural remedies like shea butter that will also leave you with softer, moisturized skin.