ALL ABOUT SHEA NUT OIL: A FORMULATOR'S FAVORITE
- Shea Nut Oil is a rich carrier oil made from fractionating Shea Butter. This method, which uses heating to separate the oily and fatty portions of the extracted butter, results in a more lightweight Shea product in the form of a liquid oil at room temperature.
- Due to its physical properties and chemical make-up, Shea Nut Oil is easier to work with, highly stable, and also carries a more appealing sensory profile. This makes it an ingredient that is sought after by cosmetic formulators.
- As a natural constituent of the Shea Nut, this nut oil displays soothing and anti-inflammatory properties for the skin, hair, and nails. It is an excellent emollient that is high in Oleic Fatty Acids, making it particularly beneficial for those with dry, irritated, or mature skin types.
- Cosmetic formulators will find Shea Nut Oil better suited for products such as lip balms, lipsticks, and other cosmetics where a gritty end texture is undesirable. It is also excellent in more lightweight formulations such as facial oils, lotions, milks, and shampoo.
WHAT IS SHEA NUT CARRIER OIL? HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM SHEA BUTTER?
Shea Nut Carrier Oil is a natural oil extracted from the shea nut. The oil is isolated by gently heating and separating the raw material during the Shea Butter manufacturing process through a process known as fractionation. Much like how Fractionated Coconut Oil represents a fraction of pure and natural Coconut Oil, Shea Nut Carrier Oil is simply a fraction of pure, raw, and authentic Shea Butter.
Although not as widely known as the butter, Shea Nut Carrier Oil is valuable for cosmetic and personal care formulators due to its beneficial properties and composition. Unlike Shea Butter, which remains solid and waxy at room temperature, Shea Nut Carrier Oil has a smooth, velvet-like consistency similar to that of a typical vegetable oil, thus making it easier to use. It also has a milder aroma and is faster-absorbing, nourishing the skin to leave it soft and supple without leaving a greasy finish.
SHEA NUT OIL BENEFITS
Shea Nut Oil is characterized by relatively higher proportions of unsaturated fatty acids, resulting in its smooth liquid state at room temperature. In addition, most of the beneficial constituents of Shea Butter is retained in the nut oil fraction, including Triterpenes and Tocopherol/Vitamin E. This makes it a highly nourishing carrier oil for aromatherapy as well as cosmetic and skincare purposes, imbuing products and formulations with natural Shea-derived benefits.
The main components of Shea Nut Oil are: Oleic Acid (about 54%), Linoleic Acid (about 8%), Stearic Acid (about 30%, while Shea Butter can consist of up to 50% of this saturated fatty acid), Triterpenes, and Tocopherol/Vitamin E.
OLEIC ACIDS (OMEGA 9) are known to:
- Contribute to the skin's suppleness and moisture levels
- Exhibit antioxidant properties, helping to fend off the impact of free radicals
- Reduce the appearance of aging, such as age spots, premature wrinkles, and fine lines
- Relieve symptoms of dry skin, redness, or irritation
- Promote shinier and healthier-looking hair while taming frizz
LINOLEIC ACIDS (OMEGA 6) are known to:
- Be an effective emulsifier and thickener in cosmetic formulations
- Boost moisture and moisture retention in skin and hair
- Exhibit antioxidant properties that protect and rejuvenate the appearance of skin
- Exhibit topical anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant properties
STEARIC ACID is known to:
- Have cleansing properties that purge dirt, sweat, and excess sebum from hair and skin
- Be an ideal emulsifying agent that binds water and oil
- Help products remain potent when stored for long periods of time
- Condition and protect hair from damage without diminishing shine and luster
TRITERPENES are known to:
- Be natural alcohols present in plants and plant oils
- Manifest as acetyl esters and cinnamoyl esters in Shea Nut Oil
- Be highly anti-inflammatory as well as help fortify and strengthen the skin's barrier
- Contribute to collagen synthesis, thereby supporting the skin's elasticity
- Possibly facilitate the healing of wounds
TOCOPHEROL/VITAMIN E is known to:
- Have strong antioxidant properties that slow the look of aging
- Promote the repair and restoration of scarred, burned, or blemished skin
- Slow down moisture loss from skin and hair
- Exhibit topical anti-inflammatory properties and relieve symptoms of dry, scaly, or inflamed skin
- Enhance overall immune function
- Enhance the growth of healthy nails
Used on the skin, scalp, and hair, Shea Nut Oil effectively moisturizes, softens, and soothes, improving the appearance and feel of dry, parched textures. It also absorbs quickly, leaving a non-greasy yet satiny finish to the skin.
The oil is believed to have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that offer protective effects, helping to restore damage or dullness due to exposure to the sun and other environmental stressors. Its richness in Triterpenes and Tocopherols further highlights its benefits for mature skin, supporting skin smoothness, firmness, tightness, as well as improving the look of skin conditions such as scars, stretch marks, and cellulite.
For formulators, Shea Nut Oil presents several advantages over traditional Shea Butter for various applications. Apart from the fact that the need to heat or melt before use is vastly reduced, unrefined Shea Butter can sometimes have a naturally gritty or grainy texture, caused by melting and uneven cooling. It also exudes a characteristically strong, earthy, nutty aroma that can be difficult to mask with fragrance or essential oils.
In contrast, Shea Nut Oil has a smoother, lighter consistency that is easier to work with, without the presence of grittiness or granules. Its milder aroma may also be more pleasant to most, and it easily takes on fragrances.
Cosmetic formulators will find Shea Nut Oil better suited for products such as lip balms, lipsticks, and other cosmetics where a gritty end texture is undesirable. It is also excellent in more lightweight formulations such as facial oils, lotions, milks, and shampoo.
As illustrated, Shea Nut Carrier Oil is reputed to have many therapeutic properties. The following highlights its many benefits and the kinds of activity it is believed to show:
COSMETIC: Regenerative, Anti-Aging, Hydrating, Skin-Conditioning, Hair-Conditioning, Soothing, Softening, Smoothing, Restorative, Collagen-Boosting, Scar Reduction.
MEDICINAL: Anti-Inflammatory, Pain Relief, Wound Healing, Relief for Itchy Skin (Pruritus), UV Protective.
HOW IS SHEA NUT OIL MADE?
The process of making Shea Nut Oil is similar to the production process of other fractionated carrier oils. The raw Shea Butter pressed from the Shea nut undergoes a process known as fractionation, which allows its liquid oil (the 'olein') to separate from the heavier components (the 'stearin'). The resulting Shea fraction contains higher proportions of the liquid Oleic Acid and lower proportions of solid Stearic Acid, may be liquid or semi-liquid at room temperature, and is considerably less waxy in its consistency. The product may undergo refining, deodorization, and filtering to further improve its sensory profile.
USES OF SHEA NUT CARRIER OIL
Shea Nut Oil is a wonderful natural emollient, with virtually endless applications in skincare and personal care. It is commonly used in formulations for dry skin and hair, and is featured heavily in natural products as well. Some of its many forms include oils (serums, cleansing oils, hair oils, and body oils), creams and lotions, lip balms, body butters, soaps, bath bombs, conditioners, and shampoos.
Used topically, Shea Nut Oil easily sinks into the skin and leaves a silky, soft, non-greasy feel. It can be used directly on the face as a pampering cleansing oil. Dab a small portion of oil and massage throughout the face in gentle circular motions to dislodge makeup, trapped dirt, and excess sebum. Rinse off with lukewarm water, a mild cleanser, and pat dry to experience clean and feather-soft skin. For those with dry or mature skin, Shea Nut Oil can act as an all-natural, single-ingredient mask due to its excellent emollient properties. Apply the oil on a clean face and leave on for about 15-20 minutes before washing off as usual.
On the body, try applying this rich oil on its own onto dry, rough, or scaly areas such as the elbows, knees, hands, and feet. This will smooth and soften the texture and lock in moisture for long-lasting hydration. Shea Nut Oil is also ideal for mildly sunburned skin to help restore moisture and soothe symptoms such as itching or chipping. To make your own after-sun moisturizing body oil, combine 30 mL (1 fl. oz.) each of Shea Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, and Avocado Oil with 2-3 drops of Lavender Essential Oil. Gently apply over desired areas.
As Shea Nut Oil easily penetrates and is absorbed into the skin, it can be a great alternative to Shea Butter for those looking to reduce the appearance of bodily scars and uneven textures such as cellulite. Its high natural content of Triterpenes and Tocopherol (Vitamin E) is believed to enhance skin elasticity and laxity, leading to tighter and more defined skin. Potential applications for the oil include products such as stretch mark removal, scar removal, and firming creams.
Shea Nut Oil is an effective hair care ingredient for practically all hair types, and its deep conditioning effects are especially beneficial for those with curly or coarse hair textures. It softens brittle strands, adds a silky shine to dull or damaged hair, aids detangling, and can be soothing for those with dandruff or an itchy scalp.
Thanks to its liquid state at room temperature, Shea Nut Oil can be used as a convenient yet high-quality massage oil. Its anti-inflammatory qualities offer an excellent remedy for sore or fatigued muscles. For a massage blend that helps with muscle relaxation, pour in 30 mL / 1 fl. oz. of Shea Nut Oil into a container and add in 5 drops of Chamomile Roman Essential Oil and 3 drops of Ginger Root Essential Oil. Mix the contents together before warming a portion in between your palms and massaging it onto desired areas. This is a great natural massage remedy for mild muscle sprains, aches, and pains.
A GUIDE TO SHEA NUT OIL VARIETIES & ITS BENEFITS
Shea Nut Carrier Oil (Refined)
Botanical Name: Vitellaria paradoxa
Extraction Method: Fractionation
Processing Type: Refined
Color: Pale yellow to yellow.
Aromatic Description: Little to no scent.
Consistency: Light to medium consistency.
Absorption: This oil absorbs easily into the skin and may leave a slightly glossy residue.
- Being a liquid oil at room temperature, with a smooth, light-to-medium consistency resembling a vegetable oil
- Having a very mild aroma
- Being rich in unsaturated Oleic and Linoleic acids
- Have beneficial properties for damaged, dry, and mature skin types
- Improving the appearance of scars such as stretch marks
- Helping to soothe inflammation when used topically
- Being popular among cosmetic manufacturers, aromatherapists, and massage therapists as an alternative to Shea Butter when convenience or more neutral sensory characteristics are required
Learn more about the benefits and varieties of Shea Butter by checking out our in-depth guide here!
CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR SHEA NUT CARRIER OIL
As with all other New Directions Aromatics products, carrier oils are for external use only. Shea Nut Carrier Oil should not be ingested and should not be stored within the reach of children, in case of accidental ingestion. As with all other oils, a patch test should be conducted on the inner arm or another generally insensitive area of skin, using a dime-size amount of Shea Nut Carrier Oil to check for sensitivities. An absence of an allergic response within 48 hours indicates that the oil is safe to use. Individuals with allergies to tree nuts may be at a higher risk of developing an allergy to Shea Nut Oil and should avoid its use.
Potential side effects of Shea Nut Oil include irritation or allergies. In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the product and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent these side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.
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