Any woman looking to get rid of stretch marks has at some point been recommended shea butter to lighten those tell-tale discolorations. While there's no strong body of evidence to back up that particular claim, shea butter is packed with skin care benefits.
This substance from sub-Saharan Africa has been used for generations to treat ailments from arthritis to leprosy [source: Nahm LINK TO LMI]. It's even used on dogs to protect their skin and paws.
Shea butter is composed mainly of triglycerides, such as palmitic, stearic, oleic and linoleic fatty acids. These make it a fantastic emollient, and, combined with its thick texture and creaminess, a moisturizer that really sticks.
But it's the other part of shea butter that researchers are more interested in: the unsaponifiables. They're the parts of oils and fats that don't form soaps. Shea butter is full to the brim with them, and they have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. And, to make it even better, cinnamic acids in the unsaponifiables absorb UV radiation [source: Alander and Andersson].
Next: You'll probably be happy to find out that what's good for your skin can also be really good for your taste buds.