What can I use instead of shea butter for hair?

No doubt naturalistas absolutely love Shea butter as a hair moisturizer, sealant, styling agent, conditioner additive and body butter.  Being semi-solid at most temperatures, Shea butter travels and lasts well and best of all is easily accessible and affordable.  But as great as Shea is, there are other natural butters you may love even more for your hair!


Mango butter exhibits excellent moisturizing properties and has an especially high content of oleic and stearic acids making it comparable to cocoa and shea butters in occlusive (moisture sealing) properties.  This is my personal secret ingredient when I create my own whipped recipes because it is much softer than shea alone but still is solid at room temperatures.  Mango butter melts completely into skin and hair upon contact!

Cupuacu Butter

Cupuacu butter is native to Brazil, and is extracted by cold pressing the seeds of the Cupuacu tree. Cupuacu Butter is also highly beneficial for dry and damaged hair, promoting deep, long lasting hydration. Its high water absorption capacity also makes it an effective alternative to lanolin for vegetable-base products.

Kokum Butter

Kokum Butter, from India, is prized for its essential fatty acid content.  It is one of the hardest of the natural butters, with a complex of oleic, palmitic, and stearic acid content, so it should be whipped well (optionally with natural oils and/or glycerin) for easy application to the hair.  Kokum Butter is well known for its emollient and regenerative properties making it one of the best choices for damaged and inflamed skin.

Ucuuba Butter

Ucuuba butter is exceptionally rich in Lauric, Myristic and Palmitic acid which are all crucial in healthy cell development, regulation of the immune system and maintenance of healthy skin and hair. This butter is also rich in vitamin A and C, and in unsaturated fatty acids.  The fatty acids also make Ucuuba butter helpful preventing hair damage from free-radicals, helps improving shine and elasticity in hair (leading to less breakage), and help keep hair hydrated longer.

Cocoa Butter

Who can forget the butter that started it all?! C’mon now, nearly every Black person had some Palmer’s cocoa butter in their stash back in the day!  The thing is, it works.  Cocoa butter is a pale yellow vegetable fat that is derived from the cocoa bean. Like all the others on this list, cocoa butter contains a high proportion of saturated fats, derived from stearic and palmitic acids and is solid at room temperatures.  A favorite for hair and body.

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