Shea butter is a vegetable fat extracted from the sun-dried kernels of the shea tree know as Vitellaria paradoxa. The shea tree is mostly grown in West Africa (Ghana, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, etc.) and some East Africa countries. As the Vitellaria paradoxa are mostly grown in West Africa and the Vitellaria Nilotica in East African. Both trees produce slightly different shea butter in terms of consistency, texture and nutrient content. The shea butter form West Africa is denser, while the shea butter from East Africa is more liquid.
The West Africa shea nut contains Higher concentration of vitamin A and has relatively higher melting point. The Vitellaria paradoxa shea butter is used for scars, blemishes, wrinkles, and stretch marks because of its high content of vitamin A. Shea butter contains ester resins recommended for damaged skin repair, cleansing and the sun’s protection. The major applications of shea butter are cosmetics industry, medicine industry and food industry. According to the Global Shea Alliance about 90% of processed shea butter goes to the food industry and the rest goes into personal care products. Shea butter comes in raw and refined form.
Shea Butter Grades
- A – Raw or unrefined, extracted using water;
- B – Refined
- C – Highly refined and extracted with solvents such as hexane
- D – Lowest uncontaminated grade
- E – With contaminants.
Some Application of Shea Butter
- Hair treatment products for damaged and dry hair.
- Anti-ageing and anti-wrinkle creams.
- Face and body moisturizing creams.
- Skin treatment after sunburn.
- Stretch mark prevention products during pregnancy.
- Hair treatment for dry scalp.
- Shaving and aftershave creams to reduce skin irritation.
- Creams to ease muscle fatigue and pain.
- Treatment products for insect bites and stings.
- Baby care products against diaper rash.
Grade A shea butter retains the most natural vitamins, especially vitamins A and E, which are partially lost in the other grades.
The benefits and uses the Unrefined Shea Butter (Grade A)
Unrefined shea butter simply means it is extracted and prepared without the use of chemicals or preservatives. That means it is produced the same way African people have been doing it for centuries. Unrefined shea butter keeps all of its natural healing properties. The major distinguishing features between unrefined and refined shea butter are the scent, color, and benefits. Unrefined shea butter maintains its nutty scent, beige color and its healing properties. Refined shea butter has been chemically altered to remove shea butters natural scent, bleach white in color and retains only a small portion of its natural healing properties.
Unrefined Shea Butter nourishes the skin and hair with Vitamins A, E, F and K. It is an effective moisturizer as it contains many fatty acids, which are needed to retain skin elasticity and moisture. It can be used daily as a pure moisturizer or be used as a barrier against harsh elements. In addition to being a superior moisturizer, shea butter is used to treat various skin problems including: Eczema, dermatitis, stretch marks, dry skin and hair, insect bites, psoriasis, acne, cracked skin, itchy skin, muscle fatigue and tension, rheumatism, arthritis, sunburns, skin allergies & rashes, scars & dark spots, skin blemishes, and wrinkles.