Shea butter is a popular ingredient used in a variety of skincare and haircare products. It’s considered a natural gem that provides a multitude of useful properties for the skin.
But as helpful as the substance might be for some purposes and occasions, one big question circles around the interweb – does shea butter clog pores?
In this article, I’ll explain whether pure shea butter clogs pores and will also share some must-know information on it.
If you’re interested in all that this organic substance has to offer and the potential risks associated with it, keep reading.
What is shea butter?
Before we dig deeper into the question does raw shea butter clogs pores, let’s find out what the substance is in the first place.
In short, shea butter is known as one of the rich natural fats used in skincare.
It’s derived from the African Karité tree. It’s used in a number of ways thanks to its powerful properties and compounds, enabling it to reduce wrinkles, moisturize the skin, and even brighten the skin tone.
I’ll tell you all about the shea butter skin benefits in the following section.
In this section, let’s focus on the way shea butter is derived and the compounds it contains.
The shea butter extraction process consists of fractionation, which splits the fats and waxes in the substance. The shea butter is then combined with other oils and ingredients to form the end product.
When it comes to its compound structure, shea butter contains the following:
- Palmitic acid – a fatty acid that plays the role of an emollient and helps retain moisture, therefore softening the skin and creating an oily, water-blocking layer.
- Linoleic acid – also known as vitamin F, moisturizes the skin and provides plumpness. Also helps protect the skin from UV rays and pollutants.
- Stearic acid – popularly used as an emulsifier that thickens skincare products and also softens and smoothes the skin’s surface.
- Phytosterols – plant antioxidants that can be helpful for redness, and irritation, and for protection against free radicals.
- Triterpenes – a soothing family of compounds that reduce inflammation, and stress from free radicals and calm the skin.
- Phenolic compounds – anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidant properties, reduce fine lines, brighten the skin, and stimulate collagen production.
- Catechins – plant-derived antioxidants that you can find in green tea too, which help with redness, inflammation, and skin barrier support.
- Phytoceramides – plant-derived ceramides that are very similar to those in mammals but preferred by people who value cruelty-free ingredients.
Because shea butter is naturally rich in vitamins E, A, C, and F along with the other compounds mentioned above, it offers a number of benefits for the skin.
Shea butter benefits for skin
Shea butter is valuable for skin care for a number of reasons. Here are some of the main benefits it offers for your skin:
- Moisturizing properties – one of the most significant benefits of shea butter is its ability to moisturize and hydrate the skin thanks to the presence of linoleic acid and oleic acids. The substance recovers the natural lipids in the skin which helps with moisture.
- Anti-inflammatory properties – shea butter is also considered a powerful ingredient for anti-inflammation as it triggers cytokines in the skin. This makes it a suitable substance for protecting the skin barrier during the cold months and potentially preventing conditions like eczema.
- Antioxidant properties – shea butter contains a number of vitamins that have strong antioxidant properties and protect the skin against harmful free radicals. They also help the skin look young and healthy.
- Anti-aging properties – some of the compounds in shea butter also make it appropriate for reducing fine lines and wrinkles, therefore having anti-aging properties.
- Soothes the skin – it’s also extremely soothing and provides skin healing properties.
Types of shea butter
As you become more familiar with shea butter, you’ll realize that there are different forms of the substance.
Raw unrefined shea butter
Raw unrefined shea butter is the purest form of shea butter. It’s created without the use of any chemicals or heat, which means that all of the nutrients are fully preserved.
The raw version of shea butter stands out with a shorter shelf life but at the same time provides a lot more nutrients. I’d also add that the scent of raw shea butter is much stronger than its other forms.
For skincare enthusiasts that like a nice, organic scent in their products, raw unrefined shea butter is a great option. It might be a bit harder to work with as the texture is thick and difficult to break off. However, you can use your hands to rub the product and gradually melt it to make the application easier.
Refined shea butter
As opposed to pure and unrefined shea butter, the refined version offers more durability and longer shelf life.
The texture is much smoother and a lot easier to work with.
Although still a quality moisturizer, refined shea butter is much less rich in nutrients and won’t provide the same regenerating benefits as unrefined shea butter.
You can come across refined shea butter as white shea butter. This is because of the fact that the refining process results in white butter. It doesn’t have any scent, which is often a plus for most people.
Whipped shea butter
The first thing that I’d like to note about whipped shea butter is that it’s not 100% pure shea butter.
It has added oils that are essential for softening and melting the butter. This process strengthens the product’s moisturizing properties. Some of the most popular oils that are added to whipped shea butter include coconut, olive, argan, and almond oil.
Yellow shea butter
You can also find yellow shea butter on the market, which is a shea butter infused with an African bark called Borututu. The Borututu tree is popular in West Africa and has been used for centuries for tea and topical treatments with anti-inflammation properties.
You’re now familiar with the different forms of shea butter and you’re likely asking yourself the following questions:
Does 100% shea butter clog pores? Does yellow shea butter clog pores? Is there a difference in how comedogenic they are at all?
Let’s find out.
Is shea butter comedogenic?
Now that you know all about the basics of shea butter, we’ve reached the most important part of this article – will shea butter clog pores?
To find out whether shea butter is pore clogging, we can look at the shea butter comedogenic rating.
Comedogenic products should be used with caution as they are likely to lead to clogged pores and therefore acne. In that sense, finding out the answer to the question “does shea butter clog pores on the face” will also help you determine if using shea butter on your face will result in breakouts.
When looking at the comedogenic rating of shea butter, we can split the findings into two separate sections – one for shea butter and one for shea oil.
Shea butter comedogenicity
Shea butter is recommended for normal and dry skin and contains a lot of oleic and stearic acid. Its comedogenic rating is between 0 and 2, which means that it will either not clog the pores at all or there’s a moderately low likelihood that it will.
Although not considered a comedogenic substance, shea butter can have a different effect on every skin. Especially for people with oily skin who are prone to acne, the ingredient may be slightly comedogenic.
Shea oil comedogenicity
Shea oil differs from butter in the fact that it’s recommended for people with very dry skin. In addition, the oil also contains high concentrations of oleic acid, but moderate levels of stearic acid. In terms of its comedogenic rank, shea oil also has a comedogenic level ranging between 0 and 2.
Let’s go back to the main question of whether shea butter clogs pores:
Does organic shea butter clog pores? – In short, no, natural shea butter is not expected to clog pores but some skin types might be more prominent to this side effect.
Does whipped shea butter clog pores? – It depends. Whipped shea butter contains other oils, which could make the final product more comedogenic than raw shea butter. Check the ingredients list of your product to see what additional ingredients it has.
Can shea butter be used as a moisturizer?
So, let’s talk about applying shea butter on the face as a moisturizer. Can you use it raw and directly apply it as a moisturizing product?
I’d recommend opting for a moisturizer infused with shea butter as opposed to using pure shea butter directly.
This way, you’ll be able to enjoy peace of mind knowing that you won’t suffer from any potential irritation and pore-clogging since products formulated with shea butter are usually made to avoid any such side effects.
Besides, the experience of applying raw butter on your face is a lot more unpleasant than using a moisturizer containing the substance.
I like the L’Occitane Shea Light Comforting Face Cream as it’s soothing yet light on the skin but there are other great moisturizers with shea butter out there.
Can shea butter be used for acne?
I’ve shed some light on the topic of shea butter and its comedogenic rank. However, you might be asking yourself whether shea butter, due to its many benefits and anti-inflammatory properties, can be used to heal acne.
So, can shea butter help heal acne?
Yes, shea butter can help people with normal and dry skin heal their acne. In fact, it’s considered one of the most effective oils for tackling these problems thanks to the high concentration of vitamins and antioxidants, which offer anti-inflammatory properties.
However, folks with oilier skin types might benefit from a lighter oil such as jojoba oil which has a high amount of linoleic acid.
Does shea butter clog pores on the legs?
It’s important to note that the legs don’t have any pores. Perhaps a more appropriate question would be if shea butter clogs hair follicles. The answer is no, shea butter won’t clog hair follicles. In fact, it can eliminate the bacteria that clog hair follicles and therefore prevent inflammation and help if you have Keratosis Pilaris.
Can shea butter be used for oil cleansing?
Yes, you can use shea butter for the oil cleansing method as it’s not considered a comedogenic ingredient. For those of you who haven’t heard of the oil cleansing method or would like some additional information, I invite you to hop onto my article on the topic.
Can I leave shea butter on my face overnight?
Yes, you can. However, I don’t recommend taking this approach as for some skin types the butter may be too occlusive. Dry skin types can benefit from an overnight shea butter ritual, while people with oily or acne-prone skin will be better off staying away from this method as they’re more prone to pore clogging.
Can shea butter darken my face?
No, nothing in the shea butter compounds suggests that it can darken the skin, regardless if you use it once or on a regular basis.
Can shea butter lighten my skin?
Yes, shea butter does have some skin-lightening properties due to the presence of vitamins A, C, and E in the substance. However, it’s not that effective. There are other skincare ingredients that can lighten out the skin’s appearance and even out your complexion – hydroquinone, arbutin, kojic acid, niacinamide, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), retinoids, Vitamin C and its esters, azelaic acid, and more.
I hope that I’ve now answered some of the most commonly asked questions about shea butter and whether or not it’s comedogenic.
Do you have any experience with shea butter-infused products or the real deal in a raw and organic form? I’d love to hear your thoughts and learn more about your personal struggles. Do drop me a line in the comments section below!
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