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Hakuna Matata With New SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Bodycare Line

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Turns out Winnie the Pooh was onto something with his honey-hoarding ways — in addition to tasting delicious, suppressing coughs and soothing sore throats, and helping to heal wounds and burns, this phytonutrient-rich substance also helps to moisturize and soften skin. That said, it would be inaccurate to group all types of honey into a single monolithic category — after all, each variety’s potency depends on how and where it was harvested, as well as on the type of flowers from which bees derived their precious nectar. So which type of honey offers your skin the sweetest deal? That would be manuka honey, since it contains both the hydrogen peroxide that gives all strains of honey their antibacterial powers, along with yet another antibacterial agent: methylglyoxal (MG), a compound derived from the dihydroxyacetone found in high concentration in manuka flowers. Recent research has shown that manuka honey, which is made when bees pollinate the nectar from the manuka flowers native to New Zealand, contains 70 times more MG than other honey varieties. And, since MG has been shown to increase collagen cross-linking, manuka honey could help to rejuvenate skin.

Given all the beauty benefits of manuka honey, then, it’s no surprise that SheaMoisture sought to incorporate this ingredient into its latest collection of haircare, bath, and body products: the SheaMoisture Community Commerce: Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil line.

Though the collection also incorporates a shampoo, conditioner, and hair masque, for the purpose of this post, I’ll be focusing only on the skincare offerings: the Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Body Wash ($9.99 at Target.com), the Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Body Butter ($11.99 at Target.com), the Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Body Scrub ($10.99 at Target.com), and the Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Hand Cream ($5.99 at Target.com). The line is part of the SheaMoisture Community Commerce program, a global initiative aimed at eliminating poverty and offering women all over the world the means for economic self-empowerment; as such, 10% of the profits from the sale of these products benefit co-ops of women shea harvesters in Northern Ghana who are essential to the creation of fine quality shea-based products. Thanks to SheaMoisture’s efforts, these women can receive a fair wage for their intense labor, which involves harvesting shea nuts; removing their shells; then crushing them, roasting, and grinding the nuts; adding water to create a paste; separating the butter oils floating atop this watery paste; then melting, boiling, churning, and shaping the butter produced.  

As with all SheaMoisture lines, all of the products within the Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil collection contain ethically sourced, certified organic shea butter, an invaluable source of essential fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants and arguably the best cure for dry skin. Other primary ingredients include the aforementioned manuka honey; mafura oil, which is extracted from the mafura trees found primarily in Zimbabwe and which boasts a high concentration of oleic acid; and vitamin C-rich African rock fig, which is used for a variety of medicinal purposes in Tanzania, Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Sudan, and Zibabwe. Together, these ingredients create a soothing treatment for parched skin, helping to alleviate any itching or aching, penetrating the upper layers of skin to deliver deep and long-lasting hydration, promoting collagen production, strengthening the skin’s moisture barrier, protecting the skin from free radical damage, and giving the skin a youthful and healthy glow.

All of the Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil bath and body products feature a sweet but earthy scent: with the honey aroma  enveloped in a creamy, buttery, and slightly musky fragrance. The potency of that scent, however, varies depending on the particular product, so that it’s slightly more subdued in the Body Wash and yet rather intense in the Body Butter.

I adore the Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Body Wash, which lathers nicely without the unnecessary suds and frothiness that results from the usage of moisture-stripping sulfates, and which features a delectable not-quite-a-gel, not-quite-a-cream consistency that’s not too viscous or too runny, making it easy to smooth onto damp skin. It cleanses efficiently, but it”s far from abrasive — in fact, your skin will feel more nourished than it did pre-shower.

Another great buy is the Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Hand & Body Scrub, which might just be my favorite SheaMoisture body scrub to date given that it polishes off dead surface skin cells and leaves skin feeling and looking smooth, yet does so in a rather gentle fashion. Sugar-based body scrubs are generally less abrasive than their salt-based counterparts, and this one certainly proves that theory since the grainy particles are just rough enough to provide a thorough exfoliation but lack the sharp edges that can irritate and scrape sensitive skin. Because the body scrub is infused with shea butter, manuka honey, mafura oil, and baobab oil, it simultaneously moisturizes, softens, and smooths the skin. In fact, when you rinse off the body scrub, your skin will feel like it’s been swaddled using a fine swathe of oil. By the time you step out of the shower, the skin begins to absorb these oils and, within seconds, that feeling of being swaddled begins to dissipate; at this point, the oils no longer feel like a separate entity, like a layer atop the skin, and instead they simply become a part of the dermal matrix.

Though I’d recommend the body wash and scrub for women of all skin types, the two creams in the collection are best suited for those with dry skin — and one, by the way, is far superior to the other.

The SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydrating Hand Cream works wonders on my hands, but I’m prone to having extremely dry mitts — the result of the constant cooking, cleaning, dish scrubbing, and hand washing that accompanies motherhood. I suspect others may find it too heavy for daily use — especially if they don’t ordinarily struggle with dry hands.  That said, even I find that the cream is extremely thick — so thick, in fact, that it’s sometimes difficult to squeeze out of its tube! And, unlike more lightweight hand lotions, this one takes a few minutes to be fully absorbed by the skin. It does, however, provide immediate relief for callus-ridden hands with dry patches, flaky cuticles, small cracks, and more. Moreover, it offers long-term relief by helping to fortify the skin’s own hydrolipidic barrier, making it more difficult for hands to become dry in the first place.

Now, my least favorite product in the collection — much to my dismay — is the SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Infused Body Butter. Normally, SheaMoisture’s body butters make by beauty dean’s list, but this one suffers from the most unorthodox and befuddling consistency. Rather than a cream-, soufflé-, or mousse-like texture, this body butter has a consistency akin to that of thick and densely-packed grits, so that rather than a whipped or churned a bit feel, this one seems grainy and sandy. Every time I try to scoop out a dollop and apply it to my skin, some of the “body butter” falls on the floor, creating a mess I have to sweep up! Sure, once you massage the product onto the skin, these grainy bits dissolve and transform into soothing oils, but the process isn’t always pretty — or tidy.

Another gripe: my skin always feels greasy for quite a while after each application. When I’ve applied the body butter at night, after showering, I’ve noticed a significant transformation in terms of the softness and smoothness of my skin when I arose the following morning (indicating that the ingredients did perform their intended duties), but I didn’t particularly love the way my skin felt for the minutes and even hours following the initial application. In fact, a few times I actually found myself blotting my arms and legs with paper towels just because I felt uncomfortable, like a glazed ham or a basted turkey. And even when I did resort to this tactic, I still discovered that my sheets were left smelling like the body butter after a night’s sleep. There’s definitely something to this mixture of ingredients, but I do think there’s room for improvement in terms of the texture, absorbency, and aroma of this particular body butter.

My suggestion: invite the body wash and body scrub into your bathroom, but skip the body butter for the time being (instead try another hydrating SheaMoisture body butter like the Argan Oil & Raw Shea one).  Hopefully, we’ll see a body lotion being added to the range soon that will have the lighter consistency costumers like me desire but still boast the same nutrient-rich ingredients. As for the hand cream, it will prove to be a lifesaver during the harsh winter months — especially if you apply it and then cover your hands with cotton gloves as part of a spa-like treatment — but you may want to replace it with a more lightweight lotion during the summer months.

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