Shea Butter and other Shea based products are becoming more and more popular in the cosmetics industry - popular because of shea butters natural healing, nourishing and moisturising properties when applied to the skin. On this site you will find a wealth of information on all things Shea Butter. On this page you will find an overview of everything Shea and a basic answer to the question What is Shea Butter. For more in depth knowledge follow the links.
What Is Shea Butter?
Shea Butter is an ivory (sometimes yellowish) fat that is extracted from the Shea nut. The nut is the pit of the fruit of the African Shea Tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) which flourishes in west and central Africa.. The butter is extracted via a lengthy, mainly manual process from the nut. The butter is used for many purposes particularly as an ingredient in cosmetics and chocolate. It is particulary viable in cosmetics because of its natural moisturizing, nourishing and healing benefits on the skin or hair. Other uses of the butter include being used as a fuel and as an nourishing ingredient in food recipes. You will find a wealth of information on Shea butter, Shea butter products and the processes that go into making them on this site.
If you have any questions along the way, let us know.
...So What Is Shea Butters Origins?
The African Shea Tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) is the source of Shea Butter. The vast majority of the world’s Shea Trees grow in the vast African continent. The grey barked tree grows naturally without cultivation in the arid savannah belt that runs from Senegal in West Africa to Sudan in the east. This is known as the Shea Belt. The trees can be found in some nineteen countries across the continent, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and Guinea. Growing up to 20 meters high the tree can take 40 years to reach maturity and begin bearing fruit. They continue to bear fruit for up to 200 years.
The perennial tree produces a fruit that resembles a large plum. The fruit takes from 4 to 6 months to ripen. Shea butter and oil are extracted when the pit of the fruit is crushed and processed.
...And How Is Shea Butter Made?
The butter is still made using the same traditional methods that have been used for millenia. The process from start to finish is a long and arduous one and is carried out mainly by women working in a social environment. There is a culture that is associated with the Shea Tree that is based on the respect of the produce of nature. From an early age african children in the Shea belt are brought up to appreciate and respect the Shea tree and its fruit. The Shea nuts from which the butter is extracted are harvested from the ground where they fall from the tree. The nuts then go through a process that extracts the butter and the oil. The traditional process is laid out below. What is shea butter?
The nuts are hand harvested mainly by women. The harvesting itself is a labourious task with the women who collect the nuts walking many miles, bending all the time to collect the nuts. Most actually transport the nuts to a processing area which in itself may be many miles away. The women collect the nuts in baskets that can be carried on the head. Sometimes these baskets can weigh in excess of 50lbs. A proportion of nuts are left on the ground to ensure future trees.
The drying of the nuts is an important part of the process. Low water content produces a much richer butter. The nuts are laid out on mats or on drying platforms and dry in the sun. The nuts are harvested during the rainy season so the women drying the nuts have to keep a keen eye on the skies.
Seperating and Cracking
Seperating the Butter and Oil
Collecting the Butter
...Ok, So What Is Shea Butter Made Of?
Shea Butter is a wonderfully versatile natural fat that can be used on skin and hair. Rich in vitamins A, E and F as well as other vitamins and minerals Shea butter helps to soothe, hydrate and balance the skin. The butter also aids the skins collagen production which helps prevent against wrinkles and other sides of ageing. Vitamin F is a rich source of essential fatty acids, which protect and revitalize damaged skin and hair. Shea butter is an excellent moisturiser, particularly for dry skin, and is a wonderful product for revitalizing dull or dry skin on the body and scalp. It promotes skin renewal, increases circulation and accelerates wound healing. It is also beneficial for the treatment of many different conditions. Shea butter is available in many different forms and in many Shea based products. It is readily available all over the world.
...Right, And What Is Shea Butter Beneficial For?
The list of Shea butter benefits is a long one. From the treatment of cuts and bruises all the way through to its use as a nutritious food source Shea Butter certainly delivers many benefits.
Here are just a few:
Softens cracked heels
Aids in sun protection
Relief from dry or itchy skin
Anti wrinkle and stretch mark reduction
Won’t clog pores
Revitalizes skin and improves elasticit
Softening of cuticle beds
Much more detail on Shea Butter Benefits here.
...But Tell Me, What Is Shea Butter Used In?
Many cosmetic companies have been increasingly using the butter in their creams. lotions and many other products. Many people have taken to purchasing 100% unrefined butter in order to create their own skin nourishing creams or to use as is. There are many sources for products just a quick search on google will show up a multitude of retailers and wholesalers all eager to supply their products.
Below is a list of some of the wonderful Shea Butter based products:
Shea Butter is excellent as the following:
Preventing Stretch Marks
Treating Tough or Rough Skin
Healing of Dry, Damaged or Inflamed Skin (inc Eczema)
Dry Scalp and many others as well
Shea Butter is also popular in the production of chocolate as a substitute for Cocoa Butter
Note: 100% unrefined butter retains pretty much all of its beneficial properties. As the butter becomes more and more refined some of the beneficial properties are reduced or in some cases lost.
...And Finally, Where Can I buy Shea Butter Products?
Shea Butter Products are available in many retail shops and on the web. Whether you are looking for Natural 100% Shea Butter or other products that use Shea Butter as an ingredient. You are sure to find just what you are looking for. We recomment Tribe Naturals products because of their use of 100% Organic and Fair Trade.
Hopefully you will have an overview of "what is shea butter". It can be used in its pure 100% form or mixed with other ingredients. It is regularly used in Shea butter products such as body lotion and lip balms. But there are many other uses.