What is Shea Butter: Just like cocoa butter comes from the seeds of the cocoa pod from the cacao tree, shea butter comes from the nut of the African Shea tree. But unlike cocoa butter, there is no pod. People gather nuts after they have fallen off of the tree. The outer shells are removed and the nuts are roasted, milled and the oil is extracted. The butter is then kneaded to a cooled state as it solidify. (Want to see it yourself? Have 10 extra minutes? Check out this video that shows the actual process.)
Benefits to Skin
The benefits of shea butter and cocoa butter are quite similar.
- Antioxidant Rich: Shea butter is high in antioxidants, which help fight off free radicals. Free radicals are causes of early signs of aging and skin stressers.
- Super Moisturizer: Shea butter is a great skin moisturizer, great for very dry skin and areas such as dry callouses on the hands and feet as well as ashy knees and elbows.
- Sensitive Skin Healer: Shea butter has been noted to help skin irritations such as psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis.
- Scar fighter: It has been noted to help the body heal from burns and cuts with minimizing scaring. No guarantees, but definitely worth trying.
Where Can You Buy Shea Butter? It is super easy to buy 100% pure shea butter. From L'Occitane's Shea Butter in a tin (compare prices) to Shea Natural's Whipped Shea (compare prices), there are easy and inexpensive options. Shea butter can feel a bit oily, so it is often mixed with other oils, butters and other ingredients for a better experience.
Using Shea Butter on its own: Shea butter melts at near skin temperature, but is solid at lower temperatures. It reminds us of coconut oil, but a bit harder - definitely not as hard as cocoa butter, in our experience. You can use it just as is, but whipping it to a fluffy consistency is a great way to expand your product and make it easier to use and more lightweight. It is super simple to make whipped shea butter, too, and you'll probably find yourself inspired to try new skin care recipes. Here is a video of David Fisher, Guide to Candle and Soap Making that shows you how to make whipped shea butter. (And a solid lotion bar.)
Refined vs. Unrefined Shea Butter: You can buy shea butter in two ways: refined or unrefined.
- Unrefined: Creamy yellow in color (pictured), unrefined shea butter is simply shea butter in its raw form. Some cosmetics manufactures feel it is hard to mask the scent and color of unrefined shea butter so they go with...
- Refined: Refined shea butter is stripped of its original scent and color, making it easier to fit into cosmetic recipes without standing out. There are claims that due to the processing to eliminate color and scent, the "good things" are also stripped, so consider that before purchasing.
More Shea Butter Recipes
- Shea Butter Lip Balm: Jobomax Global, a fair trade supplier of organic shea butter has an easy recipe for tinted shea butter lip balm. (Go to recipe.)
- Avocado, Shea Butter, Olive Oil Hair Mask: They're calling this recipe "edible", but do we really need to be snacking on our hair mask. Hair mask first, snack later.(Go to recipe.)
- Shea Butter Soap Cupcakes: OK, a little over the top and complicated, but think inspiration. Start with the whipped shea and think big, people. (Go to recipe)
Like that? Try this.