Green Living: The Secret to Using Raw Organic Shea Butter as a Face Moisturizer


By Maria Russo

Over the past ten years, I have tried to eliminate using any kind of synthetic products for my skin and body care routine. During my early twenties, I worked in marketing for a high-end spa line, so naturally  I just had to try every moisturizer and body care product that came in. Eventually I became obsessed with finding the “best”products on the market, which only resulted in one disappointing experience after the other.

When I was about 28, I developed rosacea (a condition I most likely inherited from my fair-skinned nana), which caused my skin to become extremely reactive to anything I slathered on it. After a couple years and several horrible experiences with moisturizers, I finally found a completely pure product that met my needs. I was meandering through the Whole Body section in Whole Foods ( for which I share a love/hate relationship) and decided to try one of the raw organic shea butter products as a face moisturizer. At first, I didn’t understand how anyone used shea as a moisturizer since one of the necessities of a good product is its ability to be applied and absorbed by the skin with ease. This was thick and sticky, but I was pretty determined to make things work because even with the unwieldy application process, the shea did not cause my skin to react. In fact, it improved the texture and plumpness of my skin (I won’t get into the list of amazing benefits it contains, but it is noncomedogenic, so it is suitable for most skin types).

So the secret to easy application is slightly heating a small chunk of shea in a stainless steel pan and allowing it to melt (this takes only a few seconds — you don’t need to wait until the whole chunk dissolves to turn off the heat, the shea will continue to melt even after you kill the flame.) Be sure that the shea butter does not get hot for two reasons: you don’t want to burn your skin during application and you don’t want to destroy all of the wonderful health properties it holds by burning it.

Once you’re sure that the shea is at a safe temperature, you can begin to apply it to your face spending several minutes working it fully into the skin (just think of it as giving yourself a mini facial everyday). I particularly love applying the warm oil to my face and body during the cold winter months — for what only takes a few seconds to produce, the shea “oil” is the most divine form of healthy pampering after a hot shower.

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