this thing's incredible

The Regularly Sold-Out Shea Butter That Healed My Eczema and Overly Purelled Hands

Photo: Courtesy of the author

From the coronavirus, to murder hornets, to asteroids narrowly missing Earth, to the purposeful sabotage of the United States Postal System, this year has been especially fraught. But ever the optimist, I’ve managed to find at least one upside to all of this madness. In addition to protecting us from viruses and the like, endlessly washing my hands has given me an entirely new appreciation for Hanahana Beauty’s beloved shea butter.

When the pandemic hit and I began obsessively scrubbing my skin, even heavy-duty hand cream couldn’t alleviate the brittle dryness. My hands tend to mimic the texture of a Shar Pei dog — and that’s when I’m not washing them 15 times a day and slathering them with antibacterial gel. But a smidge of Hanahana’s shea butter restored them, and with regular applications, my hands have remained positively youthful since (no matter how much Purell I use). 

With active ingredients like vitamins A and E that promise anti-aging, plus protective properties that prevent the destruction of collagen, I knew my rough, dry hands were in good hands. I first stumbled upon the company by way of the Black Girl in Om podcast years ago, and I was so moved by the brand’s mission — Ghanaian harvested, ethically and sustainably sourced — that I sent a cold email to the founder, Abena Boamah-Acheampong, to tell her as much. She, in turn, graciously sent a care package containing two tubs of her shea butter.

I nearly cried when I opened up the box. At the time, I was struggling with a bout of eczema caused by dry air and a drafty apartment. Boamah-Acheampong’s shea butter unexpectedly brought me instant relief; I’ve tried countless brands of shea butter over the years, but nothing has healed my persistent eczema and dry patches quite like this formula. That’s probably because, unlike most shea butters on the market, this one’s all-natural and handcrafted in small batches in Chicago, whipped up by Boamah-Acheampong herself. After using this stuff daily, my skin felt conditioned — and more toned, even — and every last one of my dry patches was soothed.

Beyond saving my cracked hands and dry patches, it’s also replaced my body lotion this summer. Unlike other other rich oils and creams, this one is fast-absorbing, which means I can throw on my favorite silk dresses pretty much immediately after applying it without having to worry about stains or discoloration.

Though there’s not much I don’t use this for, a small jar seems to last forever (which helps me justify the nearly $30 price). You truly only need a bit: A nickel-size dollop is enough to moisturize my whole body, and it takes just a tiny dab to revive my hands — a very good thing, with dry-skin season on the horizon and our increased attention to hand-washing showing no signs of letting up.

If Hanahana’s shea butter is sold out, here are some other Strategist-approved moisturizers …

This is Strategist writer Tembe Denton-Hurst’s everyday, go-to lotion. “It’s infused with their deep moisture serum and almond oil, which helps to lock in moisture and keep me ash-free for the entire day if I apply it in the morning,” she says.

In the winter, Tembe turns to Mutha (when she’s not using Hanahana, that is). “Marketed to pregnant women looking to prevent stretch marks and nourish the skin, this pricy moisturizer has found a home among other non-pregnant beauty enthusiasts,” she explains.

“Shea butter is one of my all time favorite ingredients for hydrating scaly, dry, and irritated skin,” says Strategist beauty writer Rio Viera-Newton, who also suffers from eczema. “This particular shea butter body cream from Buttah is easily my favorite I’ve ever used. It’s more nourishing than any other body cream I’ve tried, and never leaves my skin feeling sticky or tacky.”

Rio also swears by this stuff, “which I have on me (one in my purse, one near my bed, and one in my bathroom cabinet) pretty much at all times,” she says.

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The Shea Butter That Healed My Eczema and My Purelled Hands