4 Alternatives to Shea Butter

By Chinwe of Hair and Health

Are you interested in whipping your own moisturizer but you’re allergic to shea butter? Or do you like the benefits of shea butter but dislike the nutty scent?  Or maybe you want to use a butter but just not shea?  Below are four alternatives to that are worth trying:

Mango Butter

This option is a great substitute for those who are allergic to shea butter due to its natural latex content.  Like shea, mango butter has emollient properties, thus helping to soften the hair and seal in moisture.  If you find the nutty scent of shea butter to be unpleasant, then mango butter is also a great alternative because of its milder, sweet scent.

Shea Oil

Shea oil is less odoriferous making it a great alternative for those who dislike the scent of shea butter.  The oil can be used alone as a sealant or whipped with a butter like mango.  It still contains the emollient properties of shea butter but without the nutty smell.

Avocado Butter

This butter is another nice alternative for those who dislike or cannot use shea butter.  It has little to no smell, which is ideal for those who are sensitive to scents.  It is also softer (almost creamy), thus making it easier to utilize.  Like shea butter, it makes for a great sealant.

Cupuacu Butter

This butter is a little more expensive, but it may well be worth it for those who desire a more moisturizing butter.  Naturals who use this alternative tend to fall in love with it and use it in many mixtures (e.g., whipped butter, conditioner additive, styling agent).  Cupuacu butter not only acts as a sealant but also has the ability to absorb water, thus restoring moisture to dry hair.

Ladies, what are your favorite substitutes for shea butter?

Picture of Chinwe


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47 Responses

  1. Not to be too graphic, but my husband and I use condoms when we aren’t actively trying to conceive. I have no reaction to the latex and never have. But, recently I’ve noticed itching and burning of my scalp with the shea butter. Is the “natural latex content” you are referring to different than the latex found in family planning products? If not, could it be something other than the latex in the shea butter that I am allergic too? Something in the chemical makeup of the product that I wouldn’t be aware of? I’ll look into the root dye possibility (thanks for that info) and try a more beige product, but I used to love the shea butter and now, it causes extreme itching… :-/

  2. I usually add something like lemon grass oil to change the scent of my shea butter. But I def will try to purchase the others.

  3. I am allergic to the yellow shea butter, but am fine with the beige color one.

    Sharika, the owner of Butters-N-Bars, explained to me when I initially contacted her why the yellow shea butter I was buying from the vendors on the street made my head itch. I am allergic to the root die they add to make the shea butter that bright yellow. After I expressed my issue, she sent me a sample of the raw beige/ivory shea, and I did not experience any itching at all. I now only purchase raw beige/ivory shea butter that smells nutty.

    Here is the paragraph from her website:

    “Shea Butter varies in color naturally form a buttery yellow to an Ivory color…Our shea butter is handpacked. Not whipped and NEVER REFINED! as all natural products vary, so does shea butter. Unrefined shea butter will not be bright yellow unless a root dye extract has been added to it, COLOR IS NOT AN INDICATOR OF AGE WE DO NOT SELL BRIGHT YELLOW SHEA BUTTER Only butters as shown above in their natural states without additives. Color of your butter will range in color based on the harvest time of the shea nuts, but our butter is always fresh straight from the cooperative and as always fair traded 🙂 We also have recyclable, reusable plastic containers to store your bulk butter purchases. Packaging for half pound shea will come packaged in tubs and other packaging for larger sizes may vary as we work to reduce waste.”

    If you plan on ordering, use code ENVIZION at check out to receive 10% off your total order.

  4. Where can I buy Avocado Butter, or any of the other products? I am not so sure I want to purchase them off of ebay.

  5. First off, the woman and her skin in this photo is absolutely gorgeous!!! Great photo shot!!!

    I remember purchasing mango butter a long time ago and it was gritty. So I haven’t tried it since. Bad batch maybe? I may have to look into the shea oil at some point because sometimes the shea butter scent is too much. Now I have never heard of cupuacu butter. Hmmm…so many things to try so little cash. Lol.

  6. I love mango, avocado & shea butter. I have not used the Cupuacu Butter, yet. If your are looking for a butter that is not as heavy, I would suggest mango butter instead of shea- also the mango butter works great as a moisturizer for your face.

  7. I love mango butter….its similar to shea but slightly lighter…and no allergic rection. Also….I can get it pure and unrefined cheaply as I make soap and mango is always available in bulk. It could be my imagination….but my hair seems to grow faster when I use it and nothing beats the shine.

  8. I too wanna try mango butter!Although i love shea butter too.I get all my oils and beauty products on iherb.Com You can also use reward code ZQL811 and checkout and get $10 discount on your first purchase.Check it out girls 😉

  9. Thanks a lot for sharing this with all of us you actually recognize what you’re speaking about! Bookmarked. Please also discuss with my web site =). We can have a link exchange agreement among us

  10. I would like to try Cupuacu butter, but my big question is how do you keep cocoa butter soft and whipped… i buy Anita Grant’s butter but i wanna start making my own and i love the scent i get from it but now i’m nervous it won’t stay sofft… i don’t use shea butter because i’m allergic to it and latex. i love whipped mango butter i make it for my man and friend and i would make theirs with shea butter (after mine of course). TIA

  11. Hi Likewaterforchocolat…I also live in Atlanta and am trying my best to find a place that sells raw butters. Can you tell me the name of the place you know? THANKS!

    1. Hey Staci,

      The place is pretty close to where I live and they sell stuff for making your own beauty products. I don’t think they are a store, so they ship their products, but if you live locally, you can pick them up.

      Soap Goods
      2050 Chamblee Tucker Road
      Atlanta, GA 30341

      1. THANK YOU! I will definitely check them out and see if I can purchase and pick up, rather than wait for them to ship.

        1. I didn’t realize they are in Smyrna! Jonquil is one street over from where I live…I can walk there. THANKS AGAIN!!!

  12. Brazil nut butter is GREAT!! THE down fall is it smells like peanutbutter :-/…but mango but is def a fav in my book

  13. I’ve noticed Ilipe Butter has been pretty popular amongst a lot of naturalistas who have their own haircare lines. Any one have any experience with Ilipe? I know of a place here in Atlanta that sells all the raw butters (a spot for folks making their own soaps, scrubs, hair and body product, etc.), but I wanted to know if anyone has any experience with it before I make a purchase.

  14. Thanks for the options. My hair doesn’t seem to be a fan of shea butter. I swear it actually makes my hair feel drier, if that makes any sense.

  15. I like murumuru butter, it is hard but very nice for my hair, I blend it with some oil 50/50 and use a little bit as a conditioner after shampoo.

  16. Mango and cupuacu butters for the win! Love them both. Pura Body Naturals cupauacu butter and QB’s Aethopika Hydrating Butter contains mango butter and both are great for my hair.

    1. I am gonna try that; I am allergic to Shea butter, and have only used cocoa butter to replace it, probably not smartest for my acne-prone combination skin, but in general, it works great. So happy to find this page.

  17. I’ve tried shea, mango, avocado and cupuacu. I find that cupuacu is expensive and it is very hard like cocoa butter. I use avocado butter as a lip cream and have mixed it into my hair moisturisers. I don’t have a preference I don’t use any butters by themselves as I find them to be too greasy and heavy I mix them with water based products to make a hair moisturiser.
    As my parents from Ghana and I go there every other year I buy shea in bulk so I use it as a basis for my water based hair moisturisers the others I have bought just for the novelty of it. In 2011 when I was a product junkie I tried lots of different hair oils and butters but I have to say apart from coconut oil my hair likes everything so I keep it simple and use whatever is cheapest.
    I did find that avocado is a much lighter butter and that mango has a lovely smell but they are expensive. I personally dislike the smell and greasy feel of shea, but it’s practically free if you buy it from Mokala market in Accra.

      1. Hi Sonia,

        I usually boil up some marshmallow root with some other hair herbs like nettle and cornsilk, strain and add it to my hair butters. When you melt the butters you MUST add emulsifying wax to it then beat in the water based products that way the concoction will not seperate. I don’t have measurements but don’t put too much cocoa butter in as it is a very hard butter and when the concoction eventually hardens it can be too stiff and you have to rub your hands endlessly to melt it and it will cause product build up. I advise using a liquid oil as well, any liquid hair oil of your choice, grapeseed is a nice light oil as is olive oil. A large tablespoon of emulsifying wax is usually enough. I normally make 300-400g of my hair concoction in one batch. 1/2 water based products and 1/2 oil products for a lighter concoction.

  18. I’m definitely co-signing on the use of Mango Butter and I think it’s the most efficient and cost effective alternative to shea butter! I include Mango Butter in my hair products like the CoCo Castor Hair Pudding and Creamy Castor Deep Conditioner!

  19. Great recommendations but I’d add a 5th. We’ve found Organic Nilotica Shea to be a great alternative for traditional Shea Butter. It’s an East African variety of Shea with a creamier texture and gentler fragrance. We use it in our Love Harlem Organic Nilotica Shea Pomade and Butter where it works wonders. Highly recommend giving it a try if you’re not happy with traditional Shea.

    Harlem x

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