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Have you got sensitive skin, do you just prefer knowing what's in your skin care products, or do you like DIY? Here are some fairly easy recipes for shea butter skin care products — moisturizer, hair mask, body lotion, and soap.

Shea butter, which comes from the nuts of the African shea tree [1], is rich in beneficial fatty acids [2] and vitamin E [3]. Its anti-inflammatory properties [4] and the fact that it is extremely moisturizing make shea butter a great choice for people suffering from dry skin, those who have been exposed to cold winter weather or sunburn, those who are hoping to fight fine lines and wrinkles — and studies have even shown the benefits of shea butter for eczema treatment! [5]

Whether you suffer from a skin disorder, just prefer knowing exactly what is in your skin care products, or want to try something new, making your own skin care products is really exciting. Here are some shea butter-based skin care products you can make yourself. 

Facial Moisturizer For Beginning 'Potion Makers'

Everyone benefits from a great moisturizer! This one is both fairly easy to make and good for almost anyone.

You'll need a medium-sized saucepan, a good kitchen thermometer, sensitive kitchen scalestwo small glass jars, and a plastic or glass coffee spoon — plus, of course, all the ingredients listed below — to make a really nice facial moisturizer that will last you one month if you keep it at room temperature, and even longer if you keep in in the fridge.

Have you got all your stuff together, and are you ready to begin? Here goes!

In one jar, you'll mix all the oil-based ingredients: 

  • Lanolin (you can get this with or without water, and in this case you want water-free): 5 grams or 0.18 ounces.
  • Beeswax: 5 grams or 0.18 ounces.
  • Shea butter: 6 grams or 0.28 ounces.
  • Any plant oil — such as almond oil, olive oil, or jojoba oil — of your choice: 30 grams or 1.05821 ounces.

In the second jar, meanwhile, you'll place 20 grams (0.7 ounces) of rose water or orange water.

Now, put water in your saucepan — but not too much, because you don't want water to seep into your jars! Place both jars into the saucepan, and begin heating the water on a medium heat until it reaches between 60 and 70 °C (140-158 °F). Begin stirring the oil-based jar as soon as you notice its contents are beginning to melt.

Once you've achieved the right temperature, remove the jars from the saucepan and pour your rose or orange water into the other jar. At this point, you can add a few drops of an essential oil of your choosing, and also some vitamin E oil if you like. Then, stir thoroughly until you achieve a homogenous mixture and your cream is nearly at room temperature. 

Shea Butter And Avocado Hair Mask

Suffering from a dry, itchy scalp? Got dull, "lifeless" hair? Try this!

You'll need:

  • Shea butter: one to three tablespoons.
  • One ripe avocado.
  • Peppermint essential oil: two to three drops. 
  • Water: one to three tablespoons.

Ready? Here we go!

"Harvest" your avocado, add the water, and either place the mixture in into a blender or mix it really well with a fork. (You're after a smooth paste.) Place your shea butter into a jar and heat it up in a little glass jar until it melts, as we described before. Slowly add the shea butter to your pureed avocado, mixing everything well. Sprinkle your peppermint oil in and mix everything once more. Let it cool down all the way. 

You're ready for your hair mask, now. (The sooner you use it, the better because the avocado will go bad.) Massage it into your scalp and hair, relax for half an hour, and thoroughly rinse your hair. 

Shea Butter Body Lotion

If you're after a really rich, moisturizing body lotion that offers you the full benefits of shea butter, try making this one!

You'll need:

  • Shea butter: 40 grams or 1.4 ounces.
  • Almond oil: 26.5 grams or 0.9 ounces.
  • Olive oil: 13.5 grams or 0.48 ounces.
  • Jojoba oil: 13.5 grams or 0.48 ounces.
  • A few drops of an essential oil of your choice.
Here, all you need to do is mix everything but the shea butter together using a blender or mixer. Then, you can heat the shea butter using the method already described, and again, blend it in. Place your body lotion in the fridge to increase its shelf life and to maintain the best consistency. 

Shea Butter Soap

This soap is a lovely, rich soap with five percent fat. It will nourish your skin. Experimenting with soap making is awesome, but here's a warning — it's not for the faint of heart! I've managed to produce some genuinely lovely soaps, but I've also failed horrendously. Be prepared for that possibility. Also, do note that I'm European myself, so I use grams. I converted those to ounces for folks who use those, but for best results, you may want to work with grams yourself.

You'll also be working with lye, which is quite a nasty chemical. Wear safety glasses and gloves. A surgical mask won't hurt you, either. Have vinegar ready in case you get lye onto your skin — this will neutralize it. 

For this recipe, which will give you five to six bars of soap, you'll need:

  • Shea butter: 50 grams or 1.8 ounces.
  • Jojoba oil: 200 grams or 7.05 ounces.
  • NaOH (lye): 19 grams or 0.7 ounces.
  • Water: 52 grams or 1.8 ounces.

First off, you'll need to prepare the lye. It's time to equip yourself with the safety glasses, gloves, and mask we mentioned earlier. Carefully measure the right quantity and add the lye granules to your (cold!) water. Make sure to stir well, but carefully. You'll notice the mixture will become rather hot after a while — that's the chemical reaction. Keep stirring until you achieve an even mixture, then allow it to cool off. 

In a little saucepan, heat your shea butter and jojoba oil up until they reach 50 °C (That's 122 °F) — about the same temperature as your lye mixture. Slowly add the lye and mix it, carefully, with a wooden spoon. Once the mixture looks fairly well mixed, you can move onto using a stick blender to save yourself some energy. Keep wearing your protective gear and keep that vinegar on hand in case anything splashes onto your skin. 

After a while, your mixture will become so thick that any line you make in the soap using your wooden spoon will remain visible for quite a while. This is the sign you're waiting for — you're now ready to pour your soap into its mold.

I advise using an empty carton of milk as a mold — it's easy, you'll have one on hand, and you can easily cut your soap into bars later. Just leave the soap mixture alone for three weeks while it saponifies, and then open the carton of milk. Voila! Soap!

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