Shea Butter…Moisturizer or Sealant?

Earlier today I had a discussion about shea butter. A woman told me that she used shea butter on wet hair to moisturize her hair, and I told her that shea butter is not a moisturizer. She answered (in a respectful manner, no rudeness here) that she had read in various places that shea butter is an emollient and moisturizes hair. This is true, I have seen many sites that tote shea butter as a moisturizer, but to me, this information isn’t exactly correct. Since water is the best moisturizer for our hair, how can shea butter moisturize when it doesn’t have water and acts like an oil? I have used shea butter to seal in moisture, but never to moisturize. In fact, if I use shea butter on wet hair, it makes my hair icky when it dries. I found a great video on YouTube that goes into more detail on the subject from Monique (CoilsKinksCurls on YT).  Check it out!

You can check out more of her videos on her channel. She has a lot of great information and many product reviews. Oh, and she runs Good Hair Mart, the place where I buy my Donna Marie. Great service!

Anywho, just wanted to share. xoxo

19 comments

  1. I agree that shea butter is a sealant. But I do only use shea butter on top of wet (moisturized) hair to seal that moisture in as I wear my style. it works for me for a week+ & no re-moisturizing.

  2. Raw shea and I don’t get along (smells like old bacon grease on me, ilk), but I do have a semi life long affair with this stuff called Perfection. Its a mixture of shea butter, mango and jojoba butters and olive, aloe, almond, rosemary and tea tree oils. It works for me as a moisturizer and a sealant.

    Apparently, it’s local (I’m in central jersey) and the only thing that I’ve found online is a rather shady YouTube video that more of an ad than a review.

    Now, this water as the best moisturizer thing: with the exception of summer humidity, the more contact my hair has with water, the crunchier and frizzier it gets. Am I weird?

    1. Where can I purchase “Perfection” in central New Jersey? I have been looking everywhere. Thank you.

  3. I agree!! Nice blog by the way. I have been here a time or two. Today, I googled for products that contain Panthenol. After clicking the link, I was taken directly to the post. When I left the first reply, I did not realize that I knew you from NC. lol. When I finished leaving my reply, I clicked on home so that I could put the blog in my bookmarks. I saw your picture. I yelled, “I know her!!”

  4. I stumbled upon your blog while I was searching for hair products that contain Panthenol. Great list!! Thank you. I decided to peruse the rest of your posts, which is how got here. lol Through my searching the net for natural moisturizers for the skin and hair, I have found out that people may be correct in saying that Shea butter is a moisturizer. The reason is because Shea butter is high in fatty acids which aids in retaining moisture in the hair and skin. I am by all no means a chemist. This is just the conclusion that I have come to.

    1. No, you’re right – there’s another comment on this post where we discussed that often times a moisturizer is referred to as something that helps retain moisture, even if it doesn’t give moisture. However, a lot of people think of something giving moisture to hair when it’s called a moisturizer, but that is incorrect. Like, if you had dry skin, shea butter alone would not cure it. You’d need to use something that had water as well, or aloe vera (which is made up of mostly water).

  5. Hhmmm, whatever it is my hair loves shea butter. I have used pure raw shea butter, the shea moisture line and even Lush cosmetics Henna with shea butter in it, and my hair never feels or looks as good as it does with some form of shea butter in it.
    It seems to do better with heavier oils/ butters like shea and coconut oil, rather than olive oil. It likes the saturated fat I guess. Even when I was younger and my hair was relaxed, it thrived on the heavier stuff like Dax, rather than the Hot 6 oil

  6. I am a little confused by this video. Is she implying that oil is not a moisturizer either? Besides that good, informative commentary.

    1. Correct, in the sense that it does not provide moisture to the hair. However, as said in SumKindaWndrful’s video, a moisturizer actually helps you retain moisture, which, oils do – it doesn’t necessarily have to give moisture, which is why many companies sell their butters as moisturizers.

  7. I liked the response video by SumKindaWndrful (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1WmdV-bPTE)
    especially the part where she says that the word “butter” implies that it is an oil. I go by feel. If it feels cool or wet when I rub it in between my hands, then I use it as a moisturizer. If it feels warm when I rub it in between my hands, I use it as a sealant. It might sound weird to some people, but it makes sense to me 🙂

  8. I think that it depends. If there is already water on (and in) the hair shaft, then it works as a moisturizer (or if you mix water based products in your shea). But if you are putting shea butter on dry hair then it does not moisturize that well

  9. I think the confusion starts from the shea butter leaving hair soft and sealing in moisture, so many say it’s a moisturizer. Ironically I just whipped up shea butter a few days ago and I’ve been calling it a moisturizer but I’m using it over Kinky Curly Knot Today or after I wet my hair. It leaves it really soft and I’ve found that even by itself it keeps my hair soft. I’m now very well informed.

    This topic was on point. I’m loving this blog!

  10. yeah its not a moisturizer. this lady who sells natural/organic/vegan hair and body products sent me a sample of a “hair milk” (it totally was more of a serum/oil…not milky or creamy at all) that she was developing…and she described it as a “waterless moisturizer”…im like if it doesnt have water in it, then where is the moisture? i liked the product for sealing, but needless to say it didnt moisturize at all. i like products that have shea in it ok, but i dont think my hair likes pure, unrefined shea just straight like that…it prefers oils over butters. so i think the rest of the shea i have i’m going to use on my skin.

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