I Can't Believe It's Not Butter
Duh, that's because it is butter - the mighty shea butter!
If you weren’t properly obsessed with The Body Shop’s Shea Butter Body Lotion in the ‘90s then where were you? That stuff was as addictive as cocaine, which was also very popular in the ‘90s, apparently. Even now I can smell it just by thinking about it (the body butter, not the cocaine). Loved the stuff (again, the body butter *coughs*). However, when The Body Shop was bought out by L’Oreal in 2006, many of its customers felt the same way as I did – how can a company that pioneered cruelty-free beauty sell out to a cosmetics giant known for animal testing? Beats me.
Possibly encouraged by The Body Shop’s hardcore customers leaving in droves, independent brands working on the same premise as The Body Shop’s original one emerged. That is, to make great products that a) work b) are cruelty-free and c) are sustainable and eco-friendly. Cut to 2023 and I can rattle off 20 independent brands doing a grand job of filling that hole, and then some. There are hundreds more, globally, doing the same thing. The smaller brands are real competition for global brands who are now playing catch-up on the sustainability and cruelty-free front. Suffice to say, it’s hard to stand out in a market that’s as saturated as a wet T-shirt winner in Ibiza, but I’m always open to trying a new product and listening to companies who are getting it right – not just on a product’s efficacy, but on its eco-credentials.
One such brand is Aviela, and guess what? If it's shea butter you're after, knock yourself out. Unrefined shea butter has been used for centuries in parts of Africa as a natural remedy to help hydrate, protect, heal and promote skin renewal. It’s also pretty sweet when it comes to conditioning hair, and even helps control skin inflammation conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. Rich in vitamins A and E plus natural fatty acids (Vitamin F), combined with anti-inflammatory and protective properties, is what makes shea butter so special. If you’ve got dry skin, it’ll soften it. Aviela’s shea butter collection is hand-made using centuries-old traditions, meaning that all its minerals, proteins, essential fatty acids and those magical healing benefits are retained. The company ethically source their Grade A, unrefined shea butter directly from the fields of Northern Ghana. They work with a Women’s Cooperative, the members of which rely on the proceeds to feed their families and pay for their children’s education. Sweet.
Yeah, but(ter) is it any good?
In short, yes. I tried the Unrefined Shea Butter Body (£30) and it’s rather like coconut oil, in that you need to scoop it out and warm it in the palms of your hands before applying. I’ve got dry skin as a rule and I’m constantly slathering on hand lotion and cuticle oil to no avail. My feet are as dry as parchment paper no matter what I do and this stuff made a real difference, and fast. I used it on my face during the day when the weather was freezing, two or three times a week at night (letting it absorb while I watched ‘White Lotus’ rather than letting it go straight on my flipping pillowcase) and on my hands at night, too.
I could happily have applied it everywhere but since I’m single and have nobody around to feel how wonderfully soft my bottom is, I’m kind of saving it. It softened the skin on my feet overnight, doesn’t feel heavy despite its thick texture and smells like a week-old baby dipped in vanilla ice-cream. If I had a boyfriend, I’d be ruddy well smothered in the stuff. This brand keeps it simple, and it works - they've got one hero ingredient that makes up a whole range of skincare products, from the body butter to hand and foot cream. If money were no object my bathroom shelves would be bursting with the stuff. Go get some. Now: www.avielaskincare.com