I was prompted to write this blog when recently I realized that there are people who don’t know where Shea Butter comes from. I’m thankful to my surrounding people who were frank to admit they thought shea butter was made from either cow’s milk or some form of milk. That made me stop in my tracks immediately. Shea butter has been around for ages and is widely focused in marketing by cosmetic companies about its goodness and benefits. So naturally I just assumed it is a common knowledge. I could never be more wrong.
We have heard about apple trees, papaya trees and the likes where we are able to taste its fruits. Well, shea butter comes from its own tree too. They are mostly grown in Africa continent and it is called Shea Tree. It can grow as high as 15 meters or about 50 feet. It takes between 8 – 15 years for the tree to be cultivated before the first harvest can take place. A tree can produce about 15 – 20kg of fresh fruit which will yield 3-4kg of dry kernels. The kernels are made up of about 40% – 48% oil. You can see the shea nut in the photo I posted here.
The process of extraction of the shea butter takes skills. The end result of the extraction process will produce different grades of shea butter. Grade A Shea Butter comes in Ivory creamy colour. You may come across gray coloured shea butter offered at a cheaper price or some may price it at par with Ivory ones. Gray shea butter is a lower grade. It usually sinks to the bottom of the boiling pot where it is later scoop out and sold separately.
Shea butter has a nutty smell. I personally love the scent however it may take some getting used to for some people. In all my formulations I created, I just cannot stay away from shea butter as the beneficial properties to the skin are absolutely marvellous. It is rich in Vitamin A, E and F. It also has the necessary fatty acids and nutrients to encourage collagen production. Collagen production decreases as we age which causes us to look “older”, sagging skin etc. Shea butter is moisturising, skin smoothing and to a certain extent it can help reduce skin inflammation.
I use shea butter and combine it with different other butters and oils that carries similar properties for skin healing. This is especially so when I create lotions for skin issues such as eczema, psoriasis, dry and sensitive skin etc. More and more people are facing skin issues in this era due to the environment that we live in, the food that we eat and the way of life that we adopt. These are contributing factor to skin irregularities apart from genetically passed down.
The scientific name for Shea Butter is Butyrospermum parkii or Vitellaria paradoxa. If you read labels on the cosmetic product, you may come across this name.
Raw shea butter can be used on its own and be applied directly to the skin. Being an organic skincare formulator myself, I prefer to create a combination of several butters and oils that will create a fantastic synergy to give the best nourishment and protection to the skin.
I hope you enjoyed this write up. Thank you for your time.
**photo credit to Roger Culos, the owner of the photo.