A closer look at Shea Butter, with Helena Lane

Hi Everyone!  Over the long weekend I was in Vancouver visiting some friends.  Vancouver is so beautiful!  If you read my blog post "Facials in the Forest", you'll know I've been to BC twice this year.  Wandering through the forests of British Columbia is where I feel the happiest and most relaxed.   

While I was in the neighbourhood, I contacted Helena Lane to see if she'd be interested in meeting face to face!  It's a short drive from Vancouver to Squamish where her products are handmade in small batches, with great attention to detail.  

Let me tell you, she's even lovelier in person then I imagined.  During our short visit I got to witness the making of a small batch of unscented facial lotion, talk sourcing ingredients, and take a sneak peak at the packaging process.  She even sent me home with a souvenir, a room spray made from Balsam Fir Cones.. it smells just like a BC forest in a bottle.  

Shea butter is an ingredient that Helena often uses in her products.  Keep reading for a deeper understanding of why it's great for your skin!     



"I often get asked why I choose the ingredients I do, and with so many wonderful, therapeutic options available to us now it’s a complex task. Here is an insight into why I my commonly used ingredients includes shea butter. 

When choosing an ingredient, I have to look at many things; benefits for the skin, is it lovely to use, does it smell good in its raw unrefined state and it is ethically and organically produced? One goal with my formulations is to have as few ingredients as possible, so it’s vital that I choose wisely, to ensure my products are highly effective as well as lovely to use. 

In it’s raw, unrefined state it is, in my opinion and experience, one of the most therapeutic and most versatile skin care ingredients around -I love it! Pressed from the nuts of the shea tree found in Africa this butter contains fatty acids with a real affinity to our skin, more so than other butters (such as cocoa, coconut and mango butters). These fatty acids are what give shea butter its wonderful emollient (skin softening) and humectant (prevents moisture loss) properties. The specific combination of fatty acids is non-comedogenic (non-pore blocking), unlike some other butters and it melts at our body temperature giving the best, and quickest absorption rates of any of the butters. It is incredibly rich in vitamins E and A, both powerful antioxidants with incredible skin healing properties. And shea has the ability to block UV rays so can give sun protection too! 

We know that with the skin (and the whole body) that inflammation is at the heart of most problems so when looking for truly therapeutic ingredients anti-inflammatory properties is high on my list. Shea is rich in LA (lineloic acid) which is one of the greatest anti-inflammatory agents our body can use. This heals acne, sensitivities and skin damage. 

Shea butter is also my favourite butter for how it “behaves” on our skin. As soon as it comes into contact with our skin, it melts to a wonderful silky oil that absorbs quickly and leaves a beautifully soft but all important matt finish to the skin. Oils are lovely to use, but no one wants to be left “oily”! This gives such a wonderful surface to apply make-up although you likely will be needing that less and less once your skin is clear and glowing with health or simply that healthy dewy look we love our skin to have. 

Unrefined shea butter has a calming, earthy smell which I much prefer to most other butters. Personally, I’m not a fan of the sweeter butters, like cocoa; I love eating chocolate but rubbing it all over my body is a bit much! I also find that this lovely earthy smell lends itself better to the delicate, real scents that I want my products to have. When you use my shea based moisturizers you should be able to identify this lovely earthy smell and for me it is part of their characteristic. It also assures me every time I use them that this ingredient is at its most nutritious. Shea is a great example in that when it is refined, to remove its smell and colour, it can lose up to 95% of its therapeutic benefits! 

And last but not least purchasing ethically sourced certified organic shea butter is creating good quality jobs for women in Africa, and supporting traditions that have been going on for many many generations." 


Here is a great video about all the work that goes into making shea butter.