I simply love creams, serums, balms and toners – anything that promises brighter, smoother and more baby-like skin and lips.
Growing up as the daughter of a Chinese chemist, I would troll the aisles of Rite Aid asking my mom –‘Can I buy this???’ (We’re talking pre-teen years). She’d point out which ingredients were surfactants, humectants, preservatives, slip agents, and then basically explain why everything I wanted was a POS.
SD Alcohol 40 or Water as the first ingredient were an automatic NO. Alcohol wasn’t good for your skin in the 80’s (sorry, Seabreeze) and it still isn’t. And water as the first ingredient, well, you were just wasting your money.
Kissing Potion? Lip Smackers? Those slidey tins of strawberry scented heaven? In my dreams! They were full of FD&C Red dye, carnauba wax and even things that were carcinogenic (a word I learned around age 7).
You could say I got quite an education and now, at nearly 44, consider myself an educated consumer when it comes to skincare. A boyfriend once nicknamed me ‘botanicals’ because of the perpetually aromatic scent I left in my wake (I hope it was a pleasant one – you’d have to ask him).
It might come as a surprise then that what I’m going to recommend is one of the least processed and scientifically engineered products on the market.
It will not reduce hyperpigmentation, firm your forehead with botox-like peptides, or lift your nasolabial folds to the heavens.
What it will do is moisturize your nooks and crannies so lovingly that all will be silky, sexy smooth. What am I referring to? SHEA BUTTER.
Shea butter is an off-white or ivory-colored fat extracted from the nut of the African shea tree. Often used in cosmetics but diluted with a host of other non-desireables, pure, unrefined shea butter has a naturally nutty smell, is inexpensive, and can be cut with coconut, jojoba or almond oils, as well as lightly fragranced with essential oils.
I get my shea butter from an Austin, TX based company BETTER SHEA BUTTER (#notsponsored!) and they source it from Ghana. It comes in 2 colors (ivory and yellow) – $16 for a 2lb block. Read their website for the difference between the formulations. I’ve tried similar shea butters (Africa, unrefined, etc.) at farmer’s markets all over the country and this product is superior in its spreadability, texture and overall skin feel.
Used as a single ingredient moisturizer, I find it superior to coconut oil and jojoba oil in terms of penetration.
GOLDEN RULE OF moisturizing – add your potion AFTER moisture has been added to the skin via bath, shower or wash cloth. Dry elbows from too much Forearm Plank or Pincha Mayurasana? Gnarly cuticles? Massage in a pearl-sized amount into your dry bits.
My favorite way to use shea butter is in conjunction with resurfacing actives i.e. (skin sloughing agents) like malic acid, glycolic acid, and Retin-A (yes, I know that Retin-A is bad).
I apply the active first (as hyperpigmentation is my biggest concern), wait an hour, then warm up a pea-sized amount of shea butter between my fingertip and massage it in. This is my PM routine. AM routine involves another pea-sized application of shea butter to damp skin, followed by sunscreen/tinted moisturizer, etc.
I’ve found this to be a great combo that reduces spots and creates a supple, smooth and glowy complexion.
Have a favorite way to use shea butter? Share in the comments below!
Entrepreneur, yogini, designer, award-winning filmmaker, personal trainer and former marathon runner. She left a career in finance to start her own business and along the way, became a yoga teacher after practicing for 24 years.
Catherine Tingey+ Entrepreneur, yogini, designer, award-winning filmmaker, personal trainer and former marathon runner. She left a career in finance to start her own business and along the way, became a yoga teacher after practicing for 24 years.