It’s time for our next installment of Hair Care 101. This time we are going to talk about another essential element in our healthy hair routine. This element is especially beneficial for styling, protecting, and nourishing the driest and kinkiest of strands…BUTTERS! Now don’t get me wrong, there are a variety of natural butters available and they can have benefits for all skin and hair types, not just very kinky textures. The key is to inform yourself about the different types of butters available, do your own DIY trial and error, and learn to use judicious amounts depending on your hair’s texture.
All-natural butters are great sources of antioxidants (vitamin E), UV protection, fatty acids, and conditioning and moisture retaining properties! Most blend well with a variety of carrier/natural oils and essential oils. For a creamier and lighter formulation, try adding some aloe vera (gel or juice) to your recipe. Of note, if you do add an aqueous solution to your butter, or any oil based formula for that matter, without a preservative the shelf-life of your product will shorten tremendously. Due to this factor, you will need to refrigerate your project in-between use and throw it away after a few weeks!
If this is your first time mixing, I would suggest sticking with this simple formula:
1 cup butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup oil
3-5 drops essential oil
The total amount of oil will largely depend on the type you are using, but it’s always safest to start with 1/4 cup and add additional amounts until you reach your desired consistency. Typically, I will use larger amounts with coconut oil and smaller amounts with other carrier oils. Lavender, Rosemary and Peppermint are easy essential oil picks to add spa-like fragrance to your butter recipes.
As your expertise grows, you can check out adding other all-natural and beneficial ingredients to your DIY butter. Otherwise, you can use these ingredients as stand alone additions for your hair care routine. Check out the links below for more information about these additional key elements:
Click here to see the previous installment of Hair Care 101: NATURAL OILS
Click here to see the previous installment of Hair Care 101: HUMECTANTS
Avocado butter is obtained from the fruit of the Avocado tree, Persea Gratissima. It is created from the fruit oil through a hydrogenation process that yields an exquisitely soft, supple, yellow-green butter with great melting properties that make it excellent for blending with other ingredients. This butter has a very mild scent that allows your blended essential oil fragrance to easily stand out. Packed full of fatty acids, avocado butter is very soft and moisturizing, it can even be used without added ingredients for your hair and skin care needs!
Cocoa butter is obtained from the fatty seeds of the Cocoa or Cacao tree, Theobroma Cacao. It is created from cocoa beans which are fermented, roasted, and separated from their hulls. The remaining residue is the cocoa butter which is pressed into a paste and has a pale-yellow color. It is more odoriferous and will naturally add a scent to your end product. This is a thick butter that can help soften and seal in moisture for dry skin and hair.
Cupuacu butter is obtained from the fruit of the Cupuacu tree, Theobroma Grandiflorum, which is found in the Amazon basin and related to the Cocoa tree. This is a pale butter with a slightly sweet fragrance. It’s known for its extreme water absorption and retention properties, reported to exceed that found in Shea butter! It has also been likened to lanolin due to its emollient properties.
Shea butter is extracted from the nut of the Shea tree, Vitellaria Paradoxa. There are several steps involved in the preparation of this butter: separating the nut from its hard outer shell, crushing, roasting, and then grinding the nuts to form a paste. Finally the paste’s oil is separated by adding water, heated, then shaped. It has an ivory hue and a strong nutty scent that may alter the fragrance of your product! This heavy butter is excellent for sealing moisture and protecting very dry skin and hair. However, for some it may feel too heavy with a tendency to just sit on top of the hair. Use judiciously!
Aloe vera butter is an extraction of the succulent plant Aloe vera, Aloe Barbadensis, using the fatty fraction of coconut oil to create a super soft butter that simply melts onto skin. Due to its aloe properties, it’s excellent for soothing an inflamed, dry, or irritated scalp. Also, both aloe and coconut are excellent for adding moisturizing hydration to dry or damaged tresses. It does not have a strong scent, making it easy to blend with essential oils and other fragrances. It’s also not overly heavy and both coconut and aloe have great penetrating properties, allowing it to blend well into the hair and scalp without weighing it down.
Kokum butter is derived from the seeds of the Kokum tree, Gacrinia Indica. This is a naturally white butter with a uniform triglyceride profile often making it a substitute for cocoa butter. It’s typically considered to be a “hard” butter and is best used with other ingredients to improve softness and pliability. It also has a mild to non-existent odor.
Mango butter is pressed from the seed kernels of the Mango tree, Mangifera Indica. It’s similar to Shea butter and Cocoa butter but with a slightly higher fatty acid composition giving it added moisture boosting properties. Mango butter has a slightly sweet scent and a creamy coloration.
Murumuru butter is extracted from the seeds of the Murumuru palm tree, Astrocaryum Murumuru, native to the Amazon rainforest. It is naturally a white butter that is near odorless. This butter is highly emollient and has the tendency to form a glossy film that is naturally protective for moisture retention. Its quality is similar to coconut oil, and by some accounts, even more moisturizing!
Great online sources to find and comparison price these butters include: