Shea Butter vs. Shea Oil

Are you #teamsheabutter or #teamsheaoil? We love both, but if we have to choose, we are #teamsheaoil all day!

Here’s why, Shea Oil is like Shea Butter’s bougie cousin who got a masters; she has all the bases covered, plus a little extra something.

Shea has been used for centuries in Africa mainly for its moisturizing properties. Its ability to help the skin heal and retain moisture is the reason why it is a main ingredient in a lot of moisturizers, and it is used to soothe skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis.

How Shea Butter Is Made

Shea Butter is extracted from the kernels found inside the shea fruit, and its production is a multi-step process that involves cracking the nuts, grinding it into a powder, and then boiling the powder in water. The oil then rises to the top and solidifies into what we know as Shea butter.

How Shea Oil Is Derived

Shea oil is fractionated from Shea butter; to produce Shea oil, Shea butter is melted, and the oleic oil is removed from the solid parts. The oleic oil is lower in stearic fatty acid content which is what gives shea butter its solid characteristics.

Fatty Acid Composition

Both Shea butter and Shea oil have mainly linoleic, stearic, palmitic, and oleic fatty acids.

Linoleic Acid is what produces the ceramides that help improve the resilience and strength of the skin. It protects the skin by acting as a moisture retainer, acne reducer- as it is often lacking in those that are acne prone, and anti-inflammatory.

Stearic Acid is what gives shea butter its solid and waxy consistency.

Palmitic Acid is the emollient that softens the skin and helps it retain moisture. It does this by forming a layer that blocks water and slows its loss from the skin. It helps improve flaky and dry skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

Oleic Acid is good for helping the skin regenerate. It has moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties as well and mimics the skin’s natural sebum.

Fatty Acid Unrefined Shea Butter Shea Oil
  Linoleic Acid 7% 9%
  Stearic Acid 43% 27%
  Palmitic Acid 4% 5%
  Oleic Acid 46% 59% 

Why Shea Oil is more effective at resolving dry skin
Because of its fatty acid composition, Shea oil is a more effective format for combating dry skin. It has all the that shea butter has to offer with none of shea butter’s disadvantages.

  • Shea oil is higher in linoleic acid, the omega 6 fatty acid that helps preserve the integrity of your skin so that it is better at retaining moisture.
  • Shea oil does not have that nutty aroma that you get from Shea butter, which can elicit a strong reaction in some people.
  • At colder temperatures, shea butter can get so hard it is difficult to apply - not so with shea oil. 
    How to Use Shea Oil

    Apply oil to hands and smooth across your body in light massaging strokes after a shower. You can use the oil alone or you can mix it with your favorite facial moisturizer, hand cream or body lotion. Apply after each shower to lock in moisture and keep skin hydrated. You can also apply throughout the day to parts of the skin that are dry.

    Check out our Bolden Shea Oil Collection!


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