Shea butter vs. Coconut oil: Science backed Reasons Shea butter may be better for your skin

Shea butter vs. Coconut oil: Science backed Reasons Shea butter may be better for your skin

Shea butter vs. Coconut oil, which natural oil is better for your skin? Find out in this science-backed report on the benefits of adding organic Shea to your skincare routine.

Plant-based oil such as Shea butter has been used to moisturize and keep the skin glowing far longer than anyone can remember. From the ancient times, man has extracted oil from some plants for beauty purposes.

It is recorded that in ancient Egypt, Cleopatra included Shea butter into her skincare routine to keep the skin’s moisture intact, keep wrinkles away and make the skin subtle, and youthful.

In our world today, plant-based oils are still regarded as the best skin moisturizing agents. Despite the plethora of synthetic moisturizing products in the market, seed oils are still the preferred choice of many as moisturizers.

In fact, seed oils are so efficient in moisturizing the skin that they serve as the base for most skin moisturizing products you’ll come across while shopping. You can check the ingredients of any moisturizing product while shopping next time and see for yourself.

We have lots of seed moisturizing oil. Lots of tree seeds produce these oils which can be extracted and used on the skin to help it retain its moisture. Of all know seed oils used for moisturizing the skin, coconut oils from the coconut fruit and Shea butter from the Shea trees are the most popular.

Coconut Oil and Shea butter are so effective in moisturizing the skin that it often is a hard choice for most to choose between either. Most people even believe both oils are equally good and the one can be suited for the other. That may not be entirely the truth.

The truth however is, coconut oil differs from Shea butter – and not only by name. Both oils contain nutrients which are unique to them and it would be important that you use one with the right nutrients for better results.

Also, they differ in levels of absorption in the skin and while one is suitable for all skin types the other is not suitable for oily skin or skin prone to acne.

Follow us in this Shea Butter vs. Coconut Oil comparison as we unveil the difference between both oils and show you which is better for your skin.

Shea Butter Overview

Shea Butter has been around for a long time; think back to the times of ancient Egypt where it was used by ancient civilizations to keep the skin moist as it is been used today.

Today Shea butter is mainly produced in West African countries like Nigeria, Ghana and Burkina Faso.

Women in these areas collect fruits from the Shea tree, boil, and squash and through other manual manipulation, extracts the fats from the Shea Tree fruits.

Shea Butter depending on the mode of extraction comes in two different forms; raw butter and refined butter.

Raw Shea Butter is manually extracted. This type of butter is very potent but also comes with earthy smells that’s sickening to most users. The dirty yellow colour of raw Shea butter is also a huge turn off for many.

Refined Shea butter is processed industrially with chemicals. The aim of this type of extraction is to remove the sickening smell common with raw Shea butter. The butter is also bleached to look more appealing; as a result, refined Shea butter often looks whiter.

Also, this refined Shea butter isn’t as potent as raw Shea butter; most important nutrients are washed off during the bleaching process. Also, chemicals and other additives may be added to improve the smell of the Shea butter.

You can easily tell a refined Shea butter from an unrefined one by its smell. If butter has an earthy smell, it’s raw but if it has no smell at all or smells plastic then it’s refined.

Classifying Shea Butter as refined or raw is very broad and does not take a lot of things into consideration hence, the United States Agency for International Development came up with a better system of Shea Butter classification.

This system gives rise to five different grades of Shea Butter: The grades are:

Grade A: raw or unrefined, extracted using water
Grade B: refined Shea butter with minimal changes in colour
Grade C: highly refined and extracted with solvents such as hexane and as such is very white
Grade D: lowest grade of Shea Butter. It is also regarded as an uncontaminated grade
Grade E: comes with contaminants

Grade A, B, and C is the commercial grades and probably the only grades you’ll find in the market.

Important components of Shea Butter

Cinnamic acid

Shea butter may not be the best substitute for sunscreen, but it does have the ability to protect the skin from intense solar radiation. Thanks to the abundance of Cinnamic acid.

Cinnamic acid is a naturally occurring acid in Shea butter which can help prevent harmful UV rays from coming in contact with the skin; hence, Shea butter can be used with along with your sunscreen for added protection.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is important for good vision as it is necessary for the production of Rhodopsin in the retina.

It is also an important vitamin for the skin. It helps treat wrinkles, blemishes, and dermatitis as well as help in skin toning.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is found in almost any skin care products you can think of. This important vitamin is essential for blocking free radicals in the body which often causes aging. Vitamin E also helps to revamp damaged skin cells and as such helps to treat skin blemishes.

Vitamin E can also stimulate the follicles and lead to better hair growth. Since the vitamin is also heavy it serves as an excellent moisturizer.

Vitamin F

Vitamin F is important for skin cell formation and growth. This vitamin is especially important for treating scars, blemishes or other superficial concerns which requires the formation of new skin cells.


Shea butter comes with moisturizing agents which are similar to those produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin. This makes Shea butter an ideal moisturizer for almost any skin.

Fatty acids

Fatty acids provide more energy than Carbohydrates. Shea Butter contains lots of important fatty acids. Prominent amongst these are palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic, and arachidonic acids. These fatty acids are easily absorbed by the skin and can help prevent stretch marks by increasing skin elasticity.

Coconut Oil Overview

Coconut Oil or copra oil is extracted from the meat of a coconut. It is quite edible though the World Health Organization advised that the use of coconut oil as food be limited as excessive use poses challenges to the health.

Coconut Oil is an excellent moisturizer. It can help the skin retain most of its moisture, especially when applied after a bath.

The oil also has lots of organic substances which are important for a healthy skin. Due to the abundance of fatty acids especially lauric acid, coconut oil is an excellent antibacterial agent. It kills a broad spectrum of microorganisms found on the skin.

Important components of coconut oil

Fatty acids: coconut oil contains lots of medium-chain fatty acids such as Lauric acid, Myristic acid, Caprylic acid, Palmitic acid, Oleic acid, Linoleic acid etc. which are all important for better skin. Most of these fatty acids are also found in Shea Butter.

One important acid, Lauric acid, unique to coconut oil is an excellent antibacterial and helps kill microorganisms which often causes skin problems such as acne, eczema etc.

Vitamins: Coconut oil like Shea Butter also contains important vitamins like vitamin E. Though the vitamin content is insignificant compared to the quantity in Shea butter.

Coconut oil vs. Shea butter: Which is a better moisturizer for the skin?

From the above, one can easily conclude that Shea butter is a better oil for the skin than coconut oil, after all, it contains more important nutrients for the skin. That is not far from the truth.

However, making such a deduction might cause a lot of problems. Nutrient for the skin like food is peculiar to each skin type. As such a type of seed oil may be suitable for a type skin but not for another.

While Shea butter is a suitable moisturizer for all skin type, Coconut oil is not suitable for oily skin. This is because coconut oil can easily clog the skin pores which can lead to acne break out.

Due to the abundance of Vitamin E in Shea butter, it makes for an excellent moisturizer. Since vitamin E is very heavy and can help prevent moisture from leaving the skin when it is exposed to the atmosphere.

While Shea Butter may be a better moisturizer than coconut oil, it often feels heavy and may need to be melted before it can be applied to the skin.


Both Shea Butter and Coconut Oil are excellent moisturizers. Other than on an oily skin, one can use both coconut oil and Shea butter interchangeably without noticing any difference at all.

For most skin experts, “clients don’t have to choose between coconut oil and Shea butter”. Clients are often advised to make a mixture of both for better results.  If however, one must choose, Shea butter is the ideal moisturizer for any skin type. Check this post out to learn more about the benefits of Shea butter.


You can also read this as a Presentation.

[slideshare id=102253150&doc=sheabuttervscoconutoil-180613050747]

So now you know about Shea butter’s beneficial properties, if you are in the market for whole natural 100% unrefined Shea butter, we are your guys. We produce and supply raw Shea hit us up today, send us an email or chat us up to discuss your Shea butter needs.

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