Debunking The Myth: Shea Butter Is Not Sunscreen

Let’s get right to the point: shea butter isn’t sunscreen! While shea butter has numerous advantages, it is not sufficient to shield you from the sun’s harmful rays.

This was a heated topic of discussion on Twitter, earlier this week (hence our deep dive):

“Shea butter has an estimated SPF of 3 to 4. This is not enough sun protection for adequate UV protection to prevent hyperpigmentation, DNA damage, skin cancers, photoaging, and wrinkles,”  says Dr. Purvisha Patel, Board Certified Dermatologist and Founder of Visha Skincare. “We need to wear an SPF 30 on a daily basis for adequate sun protection.”

According to Dr. Patel, shea butter is best used on dry or inflamed skin, and in combination with a humectant. “Shea butter contains several types of fatty acids — including linoleic, oleic, palmitic, and stearic acids — that improve the skin’s natural barrier. Most moisturizers, including anti-aging moisturizers, often have active ingredients added to them to help with fine lines and wrinkles.”

So, how did the shea butter myth get started? Nobody knows for sure, but Dr. Patel believes it stems from People of Color’s historical relationship with the natural skin healer.

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