Monday, June 14, 2010

Reader's Question: When Shea Butter Doesn't Work

Post inspired by a reader! Thank you for your question. 

For some people, shea butter is not an effective moisturizer (or sealant).  In order to enhance its moisturizing properties, oils (e.g., olive oil), aloe vera gel, or other substances are added and the final mixture is applied to damp (not dry) hair.   However, even this technique does not work for some.  So now what?

Add Honey
Honey is a natural humectant, or substance that aids in moisture retention. Adding 1-3 teaspoons of honey to a cup of shea butter may do the trick. However, if this option does not work, try ...

Alternative - Glycerin and Water
Vegetable glycerin, like honey, is a natural humectant. Mix a teaspoon of vegetable glycerin with a cup of water to start.  Spritz on damp or dry hair. Add more glycerin to your mixture if desired. 

Alternative - Products Containing Propylene Glycol
Propylene Glycol is yet another humectant.  If you are familiar with jerri curls and leisure curls, then you are aware of the wet drippy look of these styles.  Well, this "wet drippy" look is achieved by products called activators, which usually contain propylene glycol as well as water and glycerin.  Activators can be applied to all hairs, natural or relaxed, to aid with moisture retention.  (Propylene glycol in this form is safe.)

Alternative - Kokum Butter and Honey
Kokum butter is stocked with fatty acids (e.g., oleic acid, stearic acid, etc.).  It is used in certain natural hair care products to aid in moisturization.  It is also very firm.  Try mixing kokum with another butter, such as mango or avocado, to make it usable.  Add some honey to improve moisture retention.


Efe said...

I add honey to my shealoe mix and it works very well.

Loo said...

^^ Thank you for sharing, Efe!

Anonymous said...

Since when is Propylene Glycol healthy for natural hair? I've seen too many articles saying that this ingredients is terrible for our hair and health! Please elaborate.

Loo said...

@Anonymous: Propylene glycol in cosmetics is generally considered as safe. Now, propylene glycol inhaled is another topic. For more info, check out:

Anonymous said...

I've also heard of adding adding flaxseed gel or glycerin to shea butter mixes.