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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best shea butter hand cream

Last Updated July 2020

Shea butter is a popular hand cream ingredient that moisturizes skin and helps protect it from harsh weather and dryness. The butter consists of fat that has been extracted from the shea nut, and upon application, it can leave your skin feeling smooth, silky, and rejuvenated.

The shea tree from which shea butter is derived is native to Africa and is a sustainable resource that grows plentifully and without assistance. That allows shea butter to be widespread in skincare products and come at a low cost. Shea butter can be applied safely and effectively to people of nearly all skin types, as allergies and other reactions are rare. In addition to hand cream, you may find it in body cream, lip gloss, and hair products. It’s often formulated with other oils, acids, or nutrients to nourish the skin. The question is, which formula is right for you?

Our guide will help answer that question. We’ll discuss how shea butter hand cream can enhance your skincare regimen and how to tell different options apart so you make the right purchase for your needs.

Shea butter can be soothing to skin after a sunburn, but it should not be used as a primary sunscreen.

Key considerations

What is shea butter?


Shea butter composition

Shea butter is made up primarily of the following fatty acids: oleic acid, stearic acid, linoleic acid, and palmitic acid. Oleic acid, which promotes softness, and stearic acid, which influences the consistency, can account for up to 90% of the composition. Shea butter may be extracted and used naturally, without any preservatives or chemicals. It may also be refined to make more elaborate skincare and beauty products.

Shea butter is primarily an emollient, which means it moisturizes the skin. It can also act as a humectant, which attracts and maintains moisture, as well as an occlusive, which creates a barrier to trap in moisture. 
 

General applications

Shea butter has all-over body applications. In various formulas, it can be applied to sensitive parts of the skin that easily become dry, such as the hands, feet, knees, and elbows. It is also found in some face and hair products.
 

Hand cream ingredients

If you’re looking to buy shea butter hand cream, you obviously know that it will contain shea butter and that shea butter is great for your skin. Other ingredients are found in these creams, too. These ingredients may affect the cream’s efficiency, fragrance, consistency, and strength. Some shea butter hand creams feature all nature ingredients, while others will include oils, alcohols, acids, and other extracts. Humectants like glycerine and occlusives such as beeswax, cocoa butter, and fatty oils are particularly effective.

Some shea butter hand creams contain parabens and phthalates, which serve as antimicrobials and preservatives. Other formulas are free of these additives. If you’re adverse to these ingredients because they may be harmful to the body and environment, check the label. Many companies tout the absence of parabens and phthalates as a selling point.

Specific applications

Shea butter hand cream can be used as regular preventative care or as a remedy for dry skin. You may decide to use it after showering to replenish your skin. Many people apply it before venturing out in cold weather as a way to prepare for dry conditions.

Apply shea butter hand cream generously, and be sure to get in between your fingers, into your palms, your nails and cuticles, as well as your wrists.

Benefits

Shea butter hand cream may have a variety of benefits in addition to the ones already mentioned. However, these benefits aren’t fully backed up by scientific research. The evidence tends to be anecdotal.

Anti-inflammatory: Shea butter hand cream may work as an anti-inflammatory, which can ease skin pain and reduce scarring.

Antioxidant: Shea butter may help prevent the signs of aging and smooth wrinkles.

Antifungal: It has been suggested that shea butter may have antifungal properties, particularly when applied to the feet.

Collagen boost: Shea butter may help enhance collagen production, which can reduce wrinkles and fine lines and lead to fuller, plumper skin.

Sunburn and insect bites: Shea butter may help soothe skin that is sore or itchy due to sunburn or insect bites.

DID YOU KNOW?

The shea tree’s scientific name is Vitellaria paradoxa. If you see the term Vitelleria or its former name Butyrospermum parkii on an ingredients list, the lotion contains shea butter.

Features

Size

Shea butter hand creams come in a variety of sizes. Look for something small and portable if you want to keep it in your purse or bag. Consider investing in a larger tub for at-home use.

Oils

Many shea butter hand creams are infused with oil to enhance the lotion. Lavender oil may add soothing properties, while peppermint oil may create an invigorating, tingly feel. Added oil may make the cream less thick, but it should still absorb into the skin. 

Fragrance

Shea butter has a naturally nutty scent. However, that scent is often lost when it is refined and combined with other ingredients. As a result, manufacturers may add a different scent to make the cream more appealing. Like shampoo and body scrub, scented shea butter hand cream will transfer the fragrance to your skin and give you a temporary aromatic appeal. This should have no impact on the quality or effectiveness of the lotion, but it may enhance your enjoyment of the cream.

Fair trade

Shea trees are indigenous only to Africa. Any shea butter hand cream sold as fair trade supports the African communities from which the shea butter was harvested. This helps ensure sustainable practices that benefit all involved.

DID YOU KNOW?

Unrefined shea butter may be gold or ivory in color and have various consistencies. Refined shea butter in hand cream tends to be white with a buttery texture.

Accessories

Face moisturizer: Crème de la Mer Moisturizer
Shea butter can moisturize your entire body, but you may want something specifically designed for your face. We recommend this cream from La Mer, which can help with wrinkles and redness.

Foot cream: The Yellow Bird All Natural Foot Cream
Shea butter works all over, but the feet can be particularly tough and dry. We suggest this natural moisturizing foot cream from The Yellow Bird. It contains peppermint and lavender.

Bathrobe: Alexander Del Rossa’s Women’s Plush Robe
Shea butter is best used on your skin after a shower or before bedtime, which are ideal times to slip into a bathrobe. We recommend this comfy plush fleece robe from Alexander Del Rossa.

DID YOU KNOW?

Shea butter has been used throughout history. It was commonly enjoyed during the middle ages and is purported to have been used regularly by Queen Cleopatra.

Shea butter hand cream prices

Inexpensive: For under $10, you can find shea butter hand cream or moisturizer combined with other ingredients in a small or medium-size tub or container.

Mid-range: Most shea butter hand creams cost between $10 and $20. These may vary in the percentage of shea butter they contain, and most also contain various oils and scents to make it a more complex cream.

Expensive: The priciest shea butter hand creams cost $20 or more. Most of these containers will likely be large in size and boast more benefits, special ingredients, and/or brand name recognition.

Tips

  • Don’t use it for sun blockage. While shea butter does offer a little bit of sun protection, around SPF4, it should not be used as sunscreen. Applying it to burns or irritations may help ease pain, however.
  • Time your applications. Shea butter may interfere with other skin applications, like makeup. Be sure to avoid conflict by timing your routine carefully.
  • Read the ingredients. Items advertised with shea butter may feature many other ingredients; shea butter may not even be the most prominent. Read the list to see how significant shea butter is and what else may interact with it.
  • Monitor your skin. Everyone has unique skin, and some lotions and treatments may not work for everyone. You may need to apply more or less lotion depending on your skin.
Shea butter hand cream will last a long time, up to three or four years. However, it’s inexpensive to make and procure, so don’t skimp when applying it.
Other Products We Considered
The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
The team that worked on this review
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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