hey chica When I read that title, I knew you had been to my blog!
Shea is actually both a moisturizer and sealant. I apply it to conditioner soaked ends to seal in the goodness, and apply it to dry ends to keep them soft and pliable. I also use it as a pomade to hold down my edges. I apply it to my dry edges, put on a silk scarf, and when I remove it, VIOLA, soft, controlled edges
As far as manipulation, or low manipulation, for me, it means not doing much to your hair...or not doing your hair too often. My hair never grew past shoulder length when I was co-washing, detangling, styling, and diffusing everyday. This was high manipulation and my ends dried out and broke off. The Twist-n-Curl set lasts 7 days...which means that I'm only manipulating, or stressing the hair once or twice a week. Other low manipulation styles are buns and twists. Some people fair well with daily hair regimens...I didn't
I've used shea butter as both. It works well at sealing your ends and moisturizing. Be careful though, I put too much on while I was retwisting my hair to go to bed and it made it really greasy. I could touch my hair for the rest of the week and look at my hands they would be shiny until I washed them!
No wonder my hair always felt so greasy! I was using shea butter along the entire length of my hair instead of just concentrating it on the ends. My hair looked nice but it definitely wasn't toucheable I'll have to do it this way after my next wash!