What is Shea Butter??
Shea butter is actually the fat that's extracted from an edible nut of the shea, or Karite tree. Karite (ka-ree-tay) means, tree of life. It can take 1 tree up to 20 years to mature, and they can live over 200. Fruit from the tree take up to 6 months to ripen. Shea trees are indigenous to countries in central Africa.
|This is typically the way I find shea butter sold locally.|
Difference between refined and unrefined??
Unrefined shea butter is in its most natural state. It hasn't been stripped, or put through any chemical processes. Unrefined shea butter is most beneficial, because it retains all of its vitamins and healing properties. Refined shea butter has been chemically processed to help extract it from the nut, alter the color, texture, or even smell. This process strips shea butter of its vitamins and can leave contaminants behind.
- Melts at body temperature and is easily absorbed, so a greasy feeling isn't left behind
- Used in some chocolates as a cocoa butter substitute
- Raw/Unrefined shea butter is best, because there are no contaminants in it such as solvents or preservatives
- A humectant (holds moisture)
- A natural anti-inflammatory
- Absorbs UV rays
- Helps improve wrinkles, eczema, sunburn, stretch marks, mild muscle aches, scars, and other skin ailments
- Full of Vitamin A and E
- Naturally contains a form of latex
- Can range in from a light beige to a yellow color
Difference between shea and other seed oils??
The main difference is the nonsaponifiable (healing) fraction. This is the proportion of vitamins and nutrients needed for healing properties. An oil or butter can have great moisturizing (saponifiable) properties, but if it provides a low percentage of nutrients or vitamins to the skin the benefits of its use are low. Most seed oils healing fraction is than 1% while shea has 5% to 17% depending on how it's processed. This high healing percentage, along with sheas great moisturizing abilities is what makes it stand apart from other seed oils.
Grades of Shea Butter:
A (cream to grayish yellow in color) - Raw or unrefined; usually extracted using water
C (white in color) - Highly refined; usually extracted with a solvent. Vitamin content starts to lower
D- Lowest uncontaminated grade. Nutrients and the natural scent are almost completely removed
E- Has contaminants. May be used as a moisturizer, but is poor quality for any other benefits
****Color depends on factors such as: the region, age of tree, season, and the type of processing.
Common Products with Shea Butter:
- Skin Moisturizers
- Shaving Creams
- Anti-Itch Creams