Shea butter is an excellent natural skin moisturizer and has many great benefits for the skin. Let’s find out what it is and how this gift of nature can benefit you.
What is Shea Butter?
African Shea butter in it’s raw and unrefined form is truly a gift of nature. Many know it for its natural moisturizing effect, high content of Vitamins A, E, and F, and it’s powerful healing properties.
Shea butter is the off-white or ivory-colored fat that comes from the nut of the African Shea tree. The locals consider this fruit sacred due to its massive health benefits. It’s also because of the economic benefits it brings to the women of Africa.
The Demand for Shea Butter
In recent years there has been an increasing demand for Shea butter by Western consumers. As a result, it has become known as ‘women’s gold’ in Africa. It is due to the small business opportunities and entrepreneurial opportunities it presents for women in some of Africa’s most underprivileged communities.
In the West, cosmetic companies use Shea butter as a moisturizing agent. Manufacturers use this in some types of chocolate. The sweet, nutty taste of the butter makes for an excellent taste and substitutes cocoa butter in some products.
In Africa, this butter is widely popular as an ingredient in various types of food preparation. Africa produces approximately 600 000 tons of Shea butter each year. Cosmetic companies buy about one-tenth of this butter and strive to market this to their socially- and health-conscious consumers.
The production of the butter is an industry that supports roughly 16 million people throughout both Eastern and Western Africa, mostly women. In common regions such as Ethiopia, Mali, and Senegal, it’s a vital source of income and a saving grace in a land that suffers from abject poverty.
Women can create small ventures, which focus on the harvesting and production of the butter. That empowers them by giving them at least some degree of financial independence.
The Shea Tree
The Shea tree grows wild over a territory that spans approximately 1.5 million square miles of the African Savanna. Its survival power is remarkable; it has survived both drought and fire, and a healthy tree can live for hundreds of years.
It begins to bear fruit at approximately 25 years of age. Only once every three seasons each tree can produce nuts, which resemble a sizable green plum.
The process of harvesting and extracting the butter is long and complicated. It stretches out over several hours and utilizes about 22 steps.
During this process, the fruit is crushed and boiled to extract the nuts. The nuts are then cracked and pounded to draw out the fatty insides. The fat boils until the butter rises to the surface and can be ladled into gourds so it can set.
In some areas, the complicated process is reduced by a few hours through the use of a press. By either method, the result is pure, unrefined Shea butter with no added chemicals and dyes. Many consumers think they are getting Shea butter benefits when they purchase ‘all-natural’ cosmetics that market themselves as containing Shea butter.
However, when cosmetic companies buy Shea butter, it often undergoes a chemical process to refine it. During this process, there are several chemicals added, including formaldehyde and Hexane, a purported neurotoxin, which strips away most of the natural moisture and vitamins.
Shea butter is an excellent 100% natural moisturizer for your face and body to promote smooth skin that looks clean and free of blemishes. If you use African black soap for face wash as part of your skincare routine, Shea butter is the perfect way to moisturize after. It has unique natural healing benefits and can be useful for your face, hands, and body.
One of the Shea butter benefits is a reduction in wrinkles and younger-looking skin with its anti-aging properties. It improves eczema and dermatitis, which many people suffer from. You should see a significant improvement when you use Shea butter daily as it moisturizes the skin.
Other Shea butter benefits are that it helps to treat some skin conditions such as allergies, chapped lips or skin burns, and frostbites. Pure Shea butter helps heal wounds faster than if left untreated. It can also be applied to stretch marks to reduce the marks and leave the skin looking brighter. The skin can absorb Shea butter very quickly.
Shea butter is a vitamin A cream that is 100% natural and free of any chemicals. If you like natural skin care products, you should include Shea butter as part of your daily skincare routine to reap the benefits of Shea butter.
The cream works by promoting skin cell renewal, leaving skin feeling soft, young, and less tired. It also helps to increase circulation and naturally contains cinnamic acid, which is an acid that protects the skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
The cream also contains vitamin E as well as other anti-inflammatory properties to help reduce the problem of puffy damaged skin. You can apply Shea butter to your skin after time in the sun to help minimize skin peeling. The skin feels fresh and moisturized rather than dry and rough.
The vitamin A and E in Shea butter can assist in protecting skin from environmental damage, which can make the skin blemish. Because it’s 100% natural, it’s also safe to use for baby care.
Shea butter also contains fatty acids that provide moisture to tired and dry skin. It helps treat conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and dandruff. Therefore you can also use it as a shampoo, anti-aging cream, or even as a natural massage oil.
While the scent of Shea butter doesn’t please too many people as it has a natural nutty scent, you could opt for refined Shea butter. However, you should be aware that some of the Shea butter benefits might disappear when the cream has been through this refined process. To get the maximum health benefits out of Shea butter, it is always best to use it in its unrefined state.
Ivory Shea Butter Vs. Yellow Shea Butter
Many people are curious about the differences between ivory and yellow butter, and there can be a couple of reasons for the inconsistency in color.
The most obvious is that the butter is often a dark yellow color at harvest. However, when going through the chemical refinement process, the butter is bleached and turns into an ivory-white color.
While this is generally acceptable, certain conditions can account for a difference in color at the time of harvest as well. It has to do with the time of the season in which the Shea nut is picked. It can influence color to some degree, as well as the length of time it’s boiled. Still, either way, the differences in color at harvest are much less noticeable than the difference between the refined and unrefined butter.
Refined Shea Butter Vs. Unrefined Shea Butter
Shea butter is a wildcrafted butter that stems from the kernel of the Shea fruit. One harvests it from the Shea tree in areas in both East and West Africa.
Shea butter is a natural moisturizer and is a raw product. In its natural form, there is no use of any processing chemicals such as synthetic dyes or perfumes.
Many people do not stop to consider the difference between the butter in its unrefined form compared to its refined state. There are significant differences between the two.
Unrefined Shea butter right from the Shea nut and left untreated is a natural moisturizer with all its natural Shea Butter benefits. For many people, it’s the perfect all-natural skincare solution. Particularly for those who are concerned about keeping their beauty products as healthy and natural as possible. It does not clog pores or have any side effects.
Refined Shea butter is bleached and deodorized and goes through a comprehensive chemical process. It is to commercialize the substance. As a result, it strips out the majority of the moisturizing properties and vitamins within the butter.
Some common chemicals that companies use during this process are Hexane, a known neurotoxin. Formaldehyde, synthetic dyes, and perfumes to add scent and color and a variety of other additives.
Raw, unrefined Shea butter benefits are moisturizing properties, vitamins, and nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K. It’s highly nurturing for your skin. It can help treat dark under-eye circles, boost the skin’s elasticity, fade stretch marks, and protect your skin from the damaging effects of the sun.
Refined Shea butter tends to have a noticeably drier texture than the unrefined butter. After treating the butter chemically, many companies add moisturizing agents back into the mix to up the moisture content. However, many natural benefits and therapeutic properties of the product in its unrefined form are no longer present.
The chemical process removes many of these vitamins and health benefits. As a result, there is often a noticeable difference in the look, smell, and texture of the butter when refined and unrefined.
It no longer provides the same shine, moisturizing effect, and Shea butter benefits. That is why many products that contain refined butter may result in lower quality products than products mixed with unrefined butter.
People become increasingly aware of the differences between chemically treated and unrefined Shea butter. Therefore, many are making a move to switch to products that contain raw Shea butter.
Many who have made the switch have reported a noticeable difference in both scent and moisturizing capabilities. Unrefined Shea butter lends a much smoother texture and adds more gloss and shine to the skin and hair.
DIY Body Butter
When you add rosehip oil or coconut oil to unrefined Shea butter and lavender essential oil, or any other essential oils of your choice, it makes an excellent body butter. If you add some beeswax to this mixture, you will have yourself a moisturizing lip balm.
So if you want to ensure you only use the most natural beauty products, be aware of the differences between Shea butter in both its states. Read the labels on your products and make sure you’re giving your body only the very best!
FAQ About Shea Butter
It moisturizes and softens the skin. It has natural health benefits and contains vitamins A, E, and F.
You can use Shea butter on a daily basis. I myself use it in the morning and at night. I usually make my own face cream with added lavender essential oil.
Be sure to use unrefined raw shea butter for your face as this has all the natural health benefits.
It could lighten hyperpigmentation or dark scars when used routinely. Of course, the results could vary per person.
Shea butter could lighten dark spots when used routinely.
It might take a few weeks for darks spots to lighten. Again, this could vary per person.
Yes, you can use it for your body and face.
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