10 Recipes to Make with Shea Butter - Humblebee & Me (2024)

I can’t remember if shea butter was the third or the fifth ingredient I discovered. I know it was somewhere after argan oil and beeswax, but well before mango butter and pumpkin seed oil. I got my first wee tub at Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market. Meredith and I split a $20 container (that might’ve been 120mL/4oz—ouch!) on a cold December day just before Christmas break. That shea butter was unrefined, and had been melted down so it could be poured into its container, and had gone grainy sometime between that pour and our purchase. High price point and graininess aside, I was smitten. I took my half tub back to dry Calgary for Christmas and positively slathered myself in the stuff. If you’re familiar with shea butter than you can probably guess that I was very… slippery… for most of that Christmas season. But I was also free from itchy winter skin, so I was pretty darn happy. And there begins my shea butter love affair.

10 Recipes to Make with Shea Butter - Humblebee & Me (1)

I quickly realized I needed to find a cheaper shea supplier, which led me to the internet, where unrefined shea butter (USA / Canada) is closer to $8/kilo (a far cry from the ~$200/kilo the stuff at the market sold for!). With that lower price point, shea butter started making itself into loads of my concoctions. Body butters, soaps, lip balms, and applied straight out of the tub—shea butter and I were becoming fast friends. In the years since I first got started I’ve discovered many other butters, but shea butter remains an old standby. ‘Cause it’s awesome.

10 Recipes to Make with Shea Butter - Humblebee & Me (2)

Shea butter is the thick, creamy, slightly tacky butter from the shea nut. It absorbs into the skin quite slowly, and is very rich. Check out this blog post to learn more about a few different kinds of shea butter. It melts around 37°C (99°F), which is higher than both coconut oil (24°C/75°F) and cocoa butter (34°C/93°F). I made a video showing how those three oils are different, you should check it out! Shea butter has a tendency to turn grainy in 100% oil based products, you can learn more about that here. It’s fantastic for dry, irritated skin—it can work wonders on eczema all on its own.

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You can purchase both refined shea butter (USA / Canada) and unrefined unrefined shea butter (USA / Canada), and most of it comes from either Ghana or Burkina Faso. The varieties from Burkina Faso tend to be more expensive, and they are usually nicer, with a fainter scent and a smoother melt. The unrefined versions tend to have a characteristic smokey sort of scent, and the unrefined versions smell faintly of fat—nothing very distinctive. Unsurprisingly, the refined stuff is pure white and a bit clumpy, while the raw/unrefined versions are greyish, sometimes marbled, and come in lumps of varying sizes.

Anyhow! After all this rhapsodizing, let’s get into the recipes:

1. Lots and Lots of Clay Soap

I adore shea butter in my soap, and you’ll find it in the vast majority of my soap recipes. This one is loaded with clay, making it extra creamy and luxurious. I love it!

This is one of my earliest recipes, but it’s still fantastic for sore noses—you know, the one you get when you’ve been blowing your nose lots and even the softest tissues feel like sandpaper. Pop some on before bed and enjoy your much happier schnoz the following morning!

3. Eczema Salve

This super-simple recipe has earned some rave reviews from readers. Angela shared this:

“My 2 year old had a bad case of eczema on the back of his legs that he would scratch at uncontrollably, esp. throughout the night. We applied coconut oil three times a day for months… MONTHS. (•_•) It alleviated some of itch so that it was manageable, but didn’t address the eczema.

I whipped up this easy to make salve and within the week the eczema was gone! No more itching, no redness & no scars. He just turned 3 and I haven’t seen any signs of it returning, even in the middle of our cold, dry winter days. I’m sold!”

4. Healing Herbal Hemp and Shea Lotion

I designed this lotion to help combat eczema, including two strong eczema battling oils (hemp oil and shea butter) and healing, soothing herbs like calendula and marshmallow root. It has a lovely grassy/oaty/smokey scent that works well with the unrefined shea butter scent, and is brilliant for dry, winter skin that needs added water as well as oils to trap it in.

5. Black Plum Lipstick

This creamy lipstick is perfect for fall, and you can really vary the colour by applying a little or a lot. It also makes a fantastic cream blush 😉 Shea butter makes this lipstick extra rich and lovely for some beautiful fall hydration. I’ve also made a video of this recipe, if you’d like to watch it instead of read it!

6. Healing Herbal Calamine Salve

This salve is like the love child of calamine lotion and diaper cream, making it perfect for all kinds of itchy, irritated skin. Shea butter brings its awesome soothing, hydrating properties to this zinc-spiked herbal infusion for an all-around awesome salve.

7. Oktoberfest Oat Stout Lotion

Celebrate Oktoberfest with this oat and hops infused lotion. It’s rich and creamy, and you can watch a video how-to if lotion making intimidates you.

8. Lavender Cardamom Lip Balm

Spoil your lips with this rich blend of hydrating oils like shea butter, hemp seed oil, tamanu oil, and jojoba oil. A blend of lavender, cardamom, and bergamot essential oils makes this lip balm a really unique lip treat!

9. 2-in-1 Hair Conditioner

If you follow natural hair care, you’ll know you need an acidic rinse. This awesome conditioner combines your acidic rinse with conditioner for one fewer bottle in your shower, and it leaves your hair unbelievably soft and hydrated. Sweet! This recipe also has a video 😉

This vegan deodorant is a bit unique in that it relies on shea butter for some of its structure, along with cocoa butter. This gives it a low melting point, and also removes the need for wax in the formula, giving us a deodorant that melts to a thin liquid easily on contact with the skin.

Well, those are my top picks! What do you love to make with shea butter?

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  1. 10 Recipes to Make with Shea Butter - Humblebee & Me (14)

    susanon October 17, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    i have been addicted to shea butter for the last year or so. recently two things happened. i pulled out my winter pajamas and thick socks and was horrified at the smell of them. tried washing a couple times but the smell remained. i was talking with a friend and she mentioned how shea butter goes rancid quickly and probably hence the smell. it was embedded in my clothes because i would take a shower at night and slather it on my skin before putting my pajamas on. i am still using my shea butter until the weather goes really cold, as i am just putting it on my lower legs and arms right now. then i will shift to my body butter. i still have 3 tubs of the stuff! my daughter gets it for me in the city (chicago) for $9 a tub


    • 10 Recipes to Make with Shea Butter - Humblebee & Me (15)

      Marieon November 22, 2016 at 8:20 pm

      Hey Susan! I’d bet you can stave off the stinky socks conundrum if you soak the socks in hot water with washing soda and borax before washing them 🙂 I’ve found washing soda and borax to be amazing at cutting grease! Enjoy your soft, shea-buttery skin 😀


  2. 10 Recipes to Make with Shea Butter - Humblebee & Me (16)

    Silkyon October 17, 2016 at 11:57 pm

    For the love of Shea butter… It is in everything I do. I love your recipes a lot because it contains them. Here in Nigeria it is quite cheap and it is pure and unrefined. I use it as a moisturizer for my face too as i learned its good for acne prone skin. I dont know if I’m wrong but please can you write/make a video on face cream for oily skin? I am so in love with your recipes and will always be grateful for the way you take time to explain these recipes here and YouTube. Still enjoying my lotion.


    • 10 Recipes to Make with Shea Butter - Humblebee & Me (17)

      Marieon November 14, 2016 at 8:14 pm

      Thanks, Becky! I can’t say I do a lot of recipes for oily skin as mine isn’t oily, and I am my most convenient tester! I do have a facial cream/moisturizer recipe coming out next month that is really nice, though—rather light and so far just divine for my skin 😀 Stay tuned!


  3. 10 Recipes to Make with Shea Butter - Humblebee & Me (18)

    Juliaon October 18, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    Hi Marie! I’ve been following you and your recipes, I’m new to diy projects and found your blog so helpful. Thank you! I love them. I’m making Christmas gifts as we speak- your French clay face mask bars…but My concerns are my face is super prone to clogs and lip balm recipes have been clogging my pores on my lips as well. I’ve been trying to perfect a face lotion and lip balm I can use that doesn’t block my pores. I use aveeno skin calming face lotion and I would love to mimic this, and if you have tips for lip balm that won’t clog my pores on my lips, I would appreciate the help,..


    • 10 Recipes to Make with Shea Butter - Humblebee & Me (19)

      Marieon October 19, 2016 at 9:56 am

      Hey Julia! You might want to do some research into comedogenic ratings. Both coconut oil and cocoa butter rate fairly high, which might be why lip balm is causing the pores around your lips to clog. I’d recommend looking for a lip balm recipe (and recipes in general) that feature ingredients that have low comedogenic ratings. Good luck!


  4. 10 Recipes to Make with Shea Butter - Humblebee & Me (20)

    Elysaon November 12, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    Hi Marie! Thanks for the shea roundup – my skin loves shea butter, and I’m drooling over some of your suggestions that I’d forgotten about – especially that soap! I’m a little surprised that one of my favorite recipes from your site didn’t make this list (the shea salve from your post “Body Butter Basics”). I get that it could be too slippery in the wrong context, but I actually love the way it sticks around longer on my skin than a traditional hand salve.

    I just did a post on my adaptation of that recipe (and linked to your original post, of course), and I wanted to say thank you for all your work! This is one of the blogs I look to for examples of how to present good quality information in a beautiful way. (And I really hope you don’t mind that I stole your description of winter “lizard skin”!)


    • 10 Recipes to Make with Shea Butter - Humblebee & Me (21)

      Marieon November 14, 2016 at 7:42 pm

      Thanks, Elysa! I do love that salve, but I have put shea butter in SO many things over the years that choosing just 10 was HARD! I saw your post and really enjoyed it—thank you so much for the shout out, and I always love seeing how other people work with my recipes and turn them into something new that suits their life 😀


  5. 10 Recipes to Make with Shea Butter - Humblebee & Me (22)

    Brenda Douceton December 21, 2019 at 8:16 pm

    Hi, I made about 4 different varieties of soaps with shea butter before I knew anything about the melting points and then freezing it immediately. So…now my soaps are gritty. I labeled a few as gritty great for exfloiating however, I just tested another batch and it gritty then it isn’t then shower again, gritty then it isn’t. Is that normal? I took the zap test and there is ZERO zap for lye. It has to be the Shea Butter because it is the only common denominator.


    • 10 Recipes to Make with Shea Butter - Humblebee & Me (23)

      Barbon April 10, 2020 at 9:03 am

      Hi Brenda,
      What is your recipe for your soaps? I’ve been making soaps for well over a decade and the only time I have ever had an issue with shea butter is when I used some unrefined stuff that was grey and smokey scented. There are a few different factors that could cause graininess in soaps, so feel free to pass on your recipe and let’s break it down!


  6. 10 Recipes to Make with Shea Butter - Humblebee & Me (24)

    MJon July 17, 2020 at 9:16 am

    Hi, I whipped my mango and Shea butter cold and it turned out really nice. However when I shipped it out to a friend who lives in another area, the body butter melted and became gooey.i suspect it must be the hot temperature during transit. Any idea how to avoid that? Many thanks!


    • 10 Recipes to Make with Shea Butter - Humblebee & Me (25)

      Marieon July 20, 2020 at 1:10 pm

      Please read this FAQ 🙂


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