You know, aloe vera is not the only thing I like to feed my hair.
Over the past few months, I've noticed that my hair responds well to Too Shea conditioner and Shea Moisture Leave-in. So, I recently decided to buy some unrefined shea butter to see if my hair will respond well to it.
Why unrefined, you wonder? Good question! Just like with food, you want to use shea butter that has undergone as little processing and adulteration as possible to preserve its natural gifts. To quote from the Agbanga Karite site:
...refined shea butter has usually been extracted from the shea kernels with hexane or other petroleum solvents. The extracted oil is boiled to drive off the toxic solvents, and then refined, bleached, and deodorized, which involves heating it to over 400 degree F and the use of harsh chemicals, such as sodium hydroxide. Shea butter extracted in this manner still contains some undesirable solvent residues, and its healing values are significantly reduced. Antioxidants or preservatives such as BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) or BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) may be added as well. The end result is an odorless, white butter that may be aesthetically appealing, but lacks the true moisturizing, healing, and nutritive properties of true traditional shea butter. In addition, refined shea butter is often hard and grainy, not smooth and creamy like pure, unrefined shea butter. All that can be said for refined shea butter is that it has an extended shelf life, a white, uniform color, and no odor.
I ordered mine from Shea Terra Organics (because I got a money-off coupon!). The smell ain't great, but then, I wasn't really expecting it to be -- I'd read enough to know that it doesn't smell all yummy like refined shea often does. I also learned that the aroma of shea butter varies depending on where in Africa it is from. Mine really doesn't smell all that bad. It reminds me some kind of barbecue or oven smell. And it doesn't linger, which is good.
I was really excited when it arrived today. After dinner, I rubbed about a dime-size worth of it (maybe a little less) between my palms until it was very melted (almost like oil) then I grabbed handfuls of my hair and squeezed. (My hair was very curly today -- lots of fog! -- and I didn't want to disturb those curls by pulling on my hair to distribute the shea butter. I've found that the heat from my hands is often a good way to transfer product of any kind from my hands to my hair.
I didn't want to use too much of this stuff because despite my hair's affinity for shea butter in other forms, I know that it doesn't take much to weigh my fine hair down. So rather than scrunch in so much that my hair felt coated, I stopped short of that and just made sure that everything in my palm got absorbed by my hair.
You should see my hair now -- even curlier than when I started applying it! Whee!
Depending on how my hair looks tomorrow, I might make a habit of this application every night. We shall see.