Ok…well here it is…my skin is changing. I can no longer say I have “cast iron” skin all year round any longer. Age and hormones are slowly and sneakily moving in on what has always been a pretty even “no major dramas” playing field for me. Now I am not saying that I have never had skin trials. But over the last 10 years or so, when I say that I have “trained” my skin to look after itself pretty well, I meant that by using the right products to balance and maintain a happy and healthy acid mantle (remember the sebum-sweat line I always use)…I pretty much have had an easy road of it.
I have religiously followed my own rules of Hydration + Sun Screen + Antioxidants during the day and Nourishing Oils + protection from De hydration during the night. So with some key ingredients such as lecithin (humectant), resveratrol (super antioxidant) as in (Recovery Lift 30ml , or our Multi B Serum) and Tahitian Tamanu, Squalane and Baobab Mix I have managed to side step a lot of angst during season changes as well as external/internal variances that would normally play havoc with skin.
But now…alas I cannot deny or escape from the reality that my skin is starting to play little tricks. Over the last year I have noticed that every so often, say…every couple of months, my usual drama free complexion goes into an irritatingly itchy “something is crawling all over my face” type of feeling. A slight dryness and incredible “invisible irritation” seems to overcome me from my face down to my shoulders and well for all the scratching there isn’t much time to concentrate on anything else.
I am not going to say OUT LOUD what is happening but those that know will not need me to call it out and those that don’t…well just ignore me.
I did find a way of instantly controlling and calming my skin when it was at its worst and now all winter I treat my skin with the same ingredient that I am going to write much about below…
What is Shea Butter and Why I love it!
Most that know REMEDICA could pretty much guess my passion for Unrefined Organic Shea Butter. We have it by the truck load here directly from Ghana, West Africa. It is Certified organic, Unrefined and Fair Trade and employed as the ONLY Shea butter we use in any of our products.
Shea butter is an ALL NATURAL, fatty substance transformed from the cracking open and extraction of the kernel from the Karite Fruit, which is roasted, pulverised then liquefied. This creamy “butter” is what is now saving my skin these days. A wondrous ALL PURPOSE, put in your medicine cabinet AND beauty bag, ingredient that just about does everything except wash ones car.
This beauty saved my skin. Unrefined, Certified Organic and Fairly Traded. The fact is that Shea butter is widely already recognized for its outstanding dermatological and healing properties and its superior service to pre and post-natal skin care of both mum and baby. There is so much out there written about it, however for me the transition from all-purpose healer of scratches, moisturising the body, lip soothing etc., to the idea of using it as an “all over moisturiser/barrier” for my face in winter was not really an option for me until now because the butter is commonly too heavy and slow to absorb for most facial skin. This changed for me last winter.
Having to contend with the irritation and discomfort of my changing skin cycle and the onslaught of a colder more dry and windy Sydney climate saw me applying the Shea butter over my face each morning with fantastic results.I would not recommend this for all skin and certainly try a little before you slather it on…as it may be too greasy and uncomfortable for most younger or less “needy” complexions, but heck I did it and was surprised by the instant results.
Firstly, any itchiness or irritation from my chest up was immediately eradicated. My skin also weathered the change of climate very well since age had started to “weaken” my well elasticized and hardy acid mantle. Acting as an outstanding moisture barrier against dehydration and harsh wind I felt extremely comfortable and well hydrated and moisturised all day and into the evening.
I found by taking a small amount and blending it between my fingers first or softening in my hands and then applying I was able to curb any risk of applying too much and making it too heavy. There are some tricks of course to this “comfort” in application and wearability because the butter is still a butter and by nature Shea Butter is slow to absorb, so I managed to negotiate steps in application allowing a “not so greasy” finish but where people would comment on how fantastic my skin looked and how healthy and glowing my complexion seemed
My winter regime for face:(all steps are not necessary, as I have all these products at my disposal it is easier for me to follow through).
Use a really good cleanser. If your skin can handle it, there is nothing better than the Richesse Anago Cleansing Paste (Black Soap). But if your skin is a little fragile, either opt for a wash off, foam free cleanser or the REMEDICA Olive milk cleanser and refiner with mother of pearl.
Apply REMEDICA sensitive.visage. Despite my age and skin type, this product is loaded with hydrating lecithin and tamanu oil which offers effective long lasting hydration and protection from dehydration as well as the nourishment of Essential Fatty Acids.
Apply small to liberal (whatever your skin can handle) amount of Shea butter from the Richesse Shea Butter and Aloe Balm. I warm the size of up to a 10c piece maximum with my fingers or palm of hand and then apply all over my face, neck and chest. Any left-over is used to sooth dryer spots such as elbows and hands etc.
In winter, if you are not prone to wearing sunscreen (oil free), then Shea butter usually has a small amount, though not probably enough spf level to satisfy. With a naturally occurring cinnamate as one of the constituents, Shea butter can have as much as a factor of 9 in protection. Warning: this is variable and not to be counted on especially if ever using white refined Shea whether organic or not.
At this point to “mattify” and help create a comfortable and non-greasy platform for makeup I apply a few drops of REMEDICA recovery lift serum which again adds a nice looking finish to the skin and helps as a makeup primer.
A somewhat complicated regime but remember that the base of good, healthy skin is CLEANSE, HYDRATE, PROTECT and NOURISH. So if your skin is especially needy and you have the will and the ability to trial Shea butter as a buffer and general skin savour in winter, give it a go and judge the results.
Is all Shea Butter the same?
No…refining Shea butter, that is white and deodorized whether certified organic or not means more processing which will have an effect on the effectiveness of Shea in general. Many companies will make creams and lotions that will reduce the amount of concentrated Shea and benefits for the user. It is important if you are using Shea Butter for a dermatological or healing purpose that you use either pure Shea or a Balm (water free not a cream or lotion) with at least 90% Shea Butter as its contents. Please believe me when I tell you that a Shea butter “lotion” from the supermarket WILL NOT contain enough nor probably any unrefined Shea butter to do much therapeutically for your skin.
What is so special about Shea Butter compared to other less expensive ingredients such as cocoa butter or coconut oil?
The first and foremost constituent benefit of Shea lays in its high anti-inflammatory-anti stress properties.
Unrefined Shea Butter has a particularly high level of naturally occurring phenolic compounds (antioxidants such as vitamin A and E) and triterpene esters which assist in protecting the skin against environmental stress conditions and reactive oxygen species. These esters comprise cinnamic and acetic esters that inhibit inflammation from both oxidative aggressors as well as photo damage, and are particularly effective in treating eczema and other debilitating skin pathologies. Thus their value in offering protection against premature aging and soothing of mature skin is widely acknowledged and peer reviewed.
Shea Butter also is very rich in Omega 6 and Omega 9 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) which we all know to be incredibly nourishing and healing for skin and skin healing.
The presence of phytosterols also contributes to the anti-inflammatory ability of Shea butter. Just like cholesterol, plant or phytosterols work in combination to increase micro circulation and delivery of oxygen to cells.
Wrinkle fighting retinol is also very high up the ladder of Shea butter value as well as the UV absorber cinnamate (in combination with antioxidants) mentioned above.
In short this butter is a powerhouse of skin nurturing and rejuvenating properties that can be used literally from head to toe and by which, in the last few months of winter has kept my skin calm, healthy, elastic and glowing.
If this product is too rich for your skin type as a winter facial protectant, just by keeping it in your “emergency” box for cuts, rashes, dry lips or sun burn is a smart way to utilise this treasure of Africa.