Shea butter is a fat extracted from the nut of the African shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa). It is ivory in color when raw, with more processed versions being white, although it is commonly dyed yellow with borututu root or palm oil. It is widely used in cosmetics as a moisturizer, salve or lotion. Shea butter is edible and is used in food preparation in some African countries.
The shea tree grows naturally in the wild in the dry savannah belt of West Africa from Senegal in the west to Sudan in the east, and onto the foothills of the Ethiopian highlands and it occurs in 21 countries across the African continent.
The butter comes as a softish paste, ideal to create balms and ointments or to use on its own with the addition of a few drops of essential oil. Shea butter has been used as a cosmetic ingredient for centuries. Its high concentration of vitamins and fatty acids — combined with its easy-to-spread consistency — make it a great product for smoothing, soothing, and conditioning your skin. Afrika Botanicals highly endorses our Shea butter.
The benefits of shea butter come from its chemical makeup. Shea butter contains:
- linoleic, palmitic, stearic, and oleic fatty acids, ingredients that balance oils on your skin
- vitamins A, E, and F, antioxidant vitamins that promote circulation and healthy skin cell growth
- triglycerides, the fatty part of the shea nut that nourishes and conditions your skin
- cetyl esters, the waxy part of the shea nut butter that conditions skin and locks in moisture
- An emollient – It penetrates the skin easily leaving it soft and supple without the feeling of grease. Beneficial for very dry, chapped or burnt skin; to prevent wrinkles and stretch marks; as a hair oil to treat devitalised, dry hair and scalp; to soothe rashes, eczema, dermatitis.
- Anti-inflammatory – It is known by the African people to have anti-inflammatory properties and can be used as a base to help with sprains and rheumatism
- UV protection – The level of protection can go up to SPF6, although this may vary depending on the origin and quality of the butter.
- Safe for all skin types
- Anti-inflammatory – When applied to the skin, shea triggers cytokines and other inflammatory cells to slow their production. This may help minimize irritation caused by environmental factors, such as dry weather, as well as inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema.
- Antioxidant – Shea butter has significant levels of vitamins A and E, which means it promotes strong antioxidant activity. Antioxidants are important anti-aging agents.
- Antifungal – shea tree products have been established as powerful ingredients to fight skin infections caused by fungi.