A YouTube video by Heady 1313 recently made the rounds of social media and the blogosphere, stirring up controversy and laughter in its wake. Provocatively titled “I Am So Pissed At Black People Right Now,” the video wasn’t about some hot-button racial issue. It was about The Butters. As in shea, cocoa, mango, etcetera.
When I first saw this video, I saw it as tongue-in-cheek and playful (but not everyone agreed with me -see the blog Dirty Pretty Thangs for a different perspective that takes Heady 1313’s entitlement to task).
The responses on Facebook were at turns funny and fascinating – turns out not everyone with melanin in their skin has grown up knowing about The Butters. It got me wondering when did I first learn about The Butters? I feel like I’ve known about the beautifying power of cocoa butter my whole life!
When I really think back, I guess I first learned about cocoa butter when I was a child, because my mom used it when she suffered scarring after an accident involving a gas stove. Cocoa butter helped to restore her legs to their most beautiful condition. My exposure to shea butter didn’t come until much later on in life, but trust and believe our love affair is passionate. Shea butter gives my skin and hair exactly the kind of moisture it needs!
I can say that I’ve “been knowing about the butters,” but I can’t truly speak to WHY the butters are just…better. For that information I turned to one of my favorite purveyors of the butters. That’d be Tasha B, creator of BelleButters — click here to peruse her amazing collection of whipped hair and body care confections. BelleButters also thought Heady1313’s video was hilarity! “I nearly fell out of my seat from laughing when she said she wasn’t scared of someone kidnapping her ashy kids. Hilarious!” she said. And when it came to breaking down exactly WHY the butters are so perfect for the skin…Tasha broke it down!
“What makes “the butters” better than “the flavored water?” The fact that it is all natural. It is enriched from “birth” as I like to say. The most nutritious source on this planet is the earth, more specifically the rich soil that we plant in. Our trees, plants, fruits, and vegetables all grow from and absorb the nutrients that are naturally provided in the soil. So, without a doubt, if what grows from the ground is good enough to eat, it is good enough to put on our bodies. Those butters that are pressed from various nuts of fruits, trees and other plants have those same nutrients in them.
“The butters” have been used for hundreds and hundreds of years. It is the availability or maybe even the shelf-life, cost or the simple fact that many feel it’s culturally exclusive as to why “the butters” are a “new” thing to a lot of people out there. The woman in the video, I feel, is learning more and more about naturally curly hair and through her findings has stumbled upon the shea, cocoa, mango butters and more. Had these things not been brought to her attention, would she even consider thinking that most black women solely use “the butters” on their skin and hair? I don’t think so. The awareness is good, but this is what the media has portrayed to us. If it doesn’t come in a bottle and isn’t sitting on the shelf of your local drug store or department store, there is no way in the world it can be something that is used on your body. Look at the raw form of “the butters.” They are in blocks, chopped up and put in a plastic container and shipped off to your doorstep. Of course, you can whip it or melt and pour it into a container to make it more aesthetically pleasing, but to see it in it’s raw form may turn some folks off. We have been conditioned a bit to assume that if it isn’t creamy or white, then it must be of poor quality or cheap. If it doesn’t sud up, it must not do a good job of cleaning. Dispelling myths is the first part of understanding why those natural things are better than the “flavored water.”
The most common butters used are shea butter, cocoa butter and mango butter. Other butters like avocado, hemp, kokum, capuacu and more aren’t as popular but are used. Besides their moisturizing properties, these butters have the capability of renewing the skin by speeding up skin cell regeneration. Most of these butters are rich with vitamin E which is known for healing, assisting with hair and nail growth and softening the skin. Other butters have since been made, like acai and blueberry butters which are both rich in antioxidants. Your body will absorb these natural ingredients which in the long-term benefits your health. Shea butter can be used for those that suffer from mild joint pain and arthritis. I use mango butter for it’s natural spf benefits. I use cocoa butter on light scars or marks to lighten them up. No chemical made in a lab can match what God has made for us.
I remember watching a program on the History Channel about a tribe in Africa. They do scarification when a young child or teen is transitioning in age or responsibility to the tribe or their family. The scarification is done by creating short cut across the face or torso using a razor blade. After the process is finished, a large leaf is used to apply shea butter on the fresh cuts. After it is healed, it is free from infection and reveals an intricate and beautiful design. They didn’t use bandaids (they don’t have access to them) nor did they use some type of ointment. Instead, they used pure shea butter straight from the nut off the tree. If the proof isn’t there, let me give you another example.
One of my customers ran out of her butters before she got a chance to reorder more. During the interim, she used St. Ives Hydrating Vitamin E lotion. She told me that her skin was irritated and that she broke out from it. She also stated to me that when she used the lotion, she didn’t feel as moisturized as with the butters. She thought that the St. Ives lotion would be okay to use because on the label it says that it uses 100% natural moisturizers. This was pretty misleading, as when I went to look up the ingredients, I found mineral oil, petrolatum and dimethicone listed. These ingredients are pretty typical in lotions and hair products because they are used as emulsifiers and “moisturizers.” I quoted moisturizers because while they may keep you from looking ashy, in the long term, they don’t have much benefit to the skin. Emulsifiers are the items that make the product easy to apply. That’s great and all, but those same ingredients are known for clogging pores. Our skin does not absorb these too well, and sometimes this is the reason for the reaction of a breakout, because the skin is unable to breathe. With butters, your skin will readily absorb them and still allow moisture to flow back and forth. Your skin stays clear and moisturized. The key is keeping your skin moisturized all day right? Who wants to keep reapplying something all day long? “The butters” are absorbed, while “the flavored water” just sits and rubs off when it comes in contact with our clothes and other surfaces.
So when you put it all into comparison of everyday things, which would you rather have? A road full of traffic ahead or the road to be free and clear? A glass of clean water or a glass of dirty water? You apply these same situations to what you put on your skin and hair. Less, is more.”
Doesn’t that make you want to just clear out your whole product arsenal and just start over from scratch? Although I still do use “flavored water” products from time to time, I’m a BIG fan of BelleButters. Click here to check out everything she’s got to offer.
What are your thoughts on “The Butters,” bellas? Have you known about them forever? Or are you new to them yourself?