Where does Shea Butter Come From
Shea butter is to West Africa, what olive oil is to the Mediterranean and the Middle East. It comes from the shea trees which grow only in the West African Savannah. The shea season begins between April and August when the ripe shea fruit begins falling from the shea trees. At this time of the year, women from the surrounding villages organize into groups and head out to the shea parklands at dawn, they return with baskets piled high with the sweet shea fruit. Every shea fruit that falls from the shea tree is handpicked by an African woman. West African shea which is going by the current nomenclature of Vitellaria Paradoxa was formerly Butyrospermum Parkii.
How Quality Shea Butter is Processed
Inside the shea fruit is a nut and inside the nut is a fleshy kernel from where the shea butter will be extracted. The shea nut must go through several steps before butter can be extracted. Each one of the steps from the sorting and selection of the nuts to the processing of the butter is key to guaranteeing a high-quality end product that is fresh and has a long shelf life. Quality nuts produce quality butter. Shea butter in its unrefined state is a solid light yellow butter and when it is refined it is white.
How to Use Shea Butter
Shea butter in its pure form like coconut oil and olive oil can be used directly on hair and skin. It can also be used as a raw ingredient to be blended with other ingredients to create other products. Studies show that Shea Butter contains high concentrations of triterpene acetates and cinnamates that provide anti-inflammatory benefits and protect the skin against environmental stressors. These properties also make it ideal for anti-aging products targeted to dry mature skin by stimulating collagen production.
The Benefits of Shea Butter
Shea butters superior emollient properties are ideal for the treatment of extremely dry, eczema-prone skin. The chemopreventative properties of shea butter make it suitable for use on burn and heat damaged skin. Shea Butter also contains natural phytosterols which are beneficial for treatment of arthritis and joint pains making it suitable for formulating sports rubs or arthritis relief cream.
What is Shea Butter Used for
Shea Butter has been used in Africa for centuries for food as well as for beauty and healing. Shea butters is an ideal ingredient for balms, salves, lotions, creams and shampoos, conditioners and other styling products. For body lotions and creams a recommended minimum of 5% Shea butter is recommended for benefits. Mass brands tend to use lower percentages .5 to 1% in their formulations. Natural focused brands that avoid mineral oils and petroleum typically use higher percentages of shea butter in their formulations.
Social Impact of Shea Butter on Women's Lives
In West Africa, shea butter is called women’s gold because the proceeds from the sale of shea nuts and butter allow women to pay fees, feed, and clothe their children. Over 16 million women are involved in the harvesting of shea nuts and the processing of shea butter. Shea butter is truly the perfect product with the perfect story. It is a product that is produced solely by women and used primarily by women as a beauty product
We use 100% Unrefined shea butter, sourced directly from women-run cooperatives in West Africa. Check out our selection of shea butter hair and bodycare products