Tuesday, June 07, 2011

shea butter, revisited

one of my birthday presents to myself this weekend was a container of 100% raw shea butter. it comes in yellow or white slabs (kind of like butter) and it has a slightly nutty scent. you can sit it on the shelf forever because thankfully it never goes bad. i got it on the street in the heart of harlem for five bucks from a west african in a suit. yeah, he was working it hard. and he had lots of other things, too -- and i'll get to them in a later post -- but that shea butter was all i needed for the moment.

basically, i'm really frustrated with a lot of the beauty products floating around out there for my skin -- especially the ones that are supposedly designed for me as a black woman. when i do find something i like, it's so expensive that i don't feel right about purchasing it on a regular basis. on the other hand, when it comes to my face -- cleansers, moisturizers, anti-aging creams, a good astringent -- i'll make whatever sacrifice i have to, for a clear, even complexion. for the moment, my face is taken care of. i have a facialist, i have an eyebrowist and i'm hooked on murad products. the rest of my body could use a little help.

right about now, the body shop and bath and body works are launching their summer sales, with deep discounts that make their body butters pretty tempting. but they still fall short. my solution? i take what they've got and fortify it with my own ingredients, thus creating something totally new and uniquely mine. it allows me to stretch the use of the lotion and give my skin the boost that the manufacturer never really considered.

it starts with an empty container. an empty body butter tub works very well, for example. i used an empty shea cashmere jar. i put in two parts of a heavily scented lotion -- this one is tahiti sweetie, filled with monoi oil -- and two parts shea butter that i carefully melted in the microwave. i stirred that up with a spoon until it reached a smoothness and consistency i recognized. and then i put in one part arygan oil and stirred that up, readjusting with more scented lotion until the jar was full. the litmus test? when i tried it, my skin drank it in and now it's softer than ever.

the bad news is, i won't be able to replicate the scent of the lotion accurately -- unless i use some of those oils that the africans sell. but that's okay. having healthy, clear, ultra soft skin is worth it.

good grief. i am so DIY. if i knew anything about construction, i'd probably build my own house.

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