July 07 2020 – Henrieta Haniskova
Shea butter is another favorite botanical butter we love to use. The benefits are numerous and it is also used as food. We like our food grade quality Shea butter, because it's that much more safe should it end up in your baby's hands and inevitably mouth. Those who use Shea butter on regular base swear by it's benefits and for a good reason. To love it though, you have to also love the heavy stickiness and super nutty smell. Which can be hard to get used to. We use it as a substantial percentage of our formula, but not so large that it would overpower the smell or texture.
So, let's take a look at this wonderful plant, some of it's history and how it's produced.
Shea nut tree is not only the source of Shea nuts from which the well-known Shea Butter is derived; it has also proven itself to be valuable for conserving semi-arid Africa’s delicate ecosystems and for sustaining entire communities. Shea trees can be found growing in the Savanna belt, a region that traders refer to as the “Shea Belt.” This region includes countries such as Senegal, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ghana, Benin, Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia. Of these, the main Shea nut exporting countries are Ghana and Burkina Faso.
In some of Africa’s poorest regions, the Shea tree has become important to the economy and to the livelihood. In these places, Shea Butter is most commonly known as ‘Women’s Gold,’ due to the fact that Shea Butter production is the source of income for many women in Africa. The women use Shea Butter to purchase food, clothing, personal items, and to afford an education, among other purposes.
Although some early records state that European explorers began using Shea Butter in the 1300s, the natural emollient was used long before then by the people of Africa. For use in the harsh desert climates, Shea nuts were crushed, mashed, and boiled into a butter that was used to protect skin and hair from the drying, damaging elements while also being used to relieve insect bites. According to historical sources, the use of Shea Butter has even been traced back to Egypt as far back as the first century at the time of Queen Cleopatra, when it was used largely in skin care products. Ancient accounts tell the story of Cleopatra demanding that large jars full of Shea Butter accompany her on all her travels so that she could apply the smooth, hydrating, soothing, and rejuvenating butter to her skin daily.
Traditionally, Shea Butter was a staple ingredient used for its medicinal benefits in African pharmacology. Local healers used this nourishing butter – often making it the key ingredient – to address health issues such as coughing, bruising, rheumatism, inflammation, minor bone dislocation, and leprosy. Its wound-healing properties made it effective in diminishing stretch marks and regenerating skin that had been cut, especially soothing the uncomfortable results of circumcision. It is also used to reduce the pain caused by growth of breasts for teenage girls.
“Mother Nature's Conditioner” is a nickname that Shea Butter has earned for its exceptional moisturizing and softening properties. Since the discovery of Shea Butter’s therapeutic benefits, it has been used as an ingredient in cosmetics for thousands of years. Amazing bonus when using Shea butter is that an allergy to this wonderful moisturizer is extremely rare. While a person with a tree nut allergy could at least theoretically be allergic to Shea butter, it’s highly unlikely.
Rich in Vitamins A, E and F, Shea Butter is a natural emollient that nourishes skin to promote its clarity and health. Its moisturizing, circulation-boosting, and anti-inflammatory properties make it a popular ingredient for use in products that address skin problems such as dryness, wrinkles, dark spots, discolorations, stretch marks, and blemishes. Whether skin is dry or oily, Shea Butter balances its oil production without clogging pores. It melts at body temperature and is known to soothe and hydrate mature skin as well as skin that has been damaged by the harsh effects of the elements. Its Cinnamic Acid content provides skin with a degree of protection against the sun, acting as a natural sun screen. Individuals with acne, eczema, rashes, or psoriasis can use Shea Butter for relief from their skin conditions without experiencing the side effects commonly associated with traditional treatments, which can have abrasive effects on skin. Gentle enough for the most sensitive skin, Shea Butter has even been used traditionally for baby care.
Used in massages, Shea Butter’s anti-aging and skin-protecting benefits are known to slow the signs and symptoms of maturing skin by supporting skin elasticity and suppleness. In doing so, it boosts collagen production and increases circulation while promoting skin cell regeneration. Shea Butter’s anti-inflammatory properties can ease joint pain and rheumatism.
Used medicinally, Shea Butter makes an ideal post-sun ointment for skin damaged by UV radiation while creating a barrier on skin that protects it from harsh environmental elements such as severe winds and cold temperatures. Shea Butter is anti-bacterial; hence, it can prevent skin-irritating and acne-causing bacteria from lingering on the skin. By eliminating germs, it can relieve nasal congestion and sinusitis. The Cinnamic Acid content in Shea Butter can effectively alleviate pain and itchiness on skin afflicted with a rash, cut, scrape, or allergy. It can reduce the discomfort of skin that has become inflamed from conditions such as dermatitis and rosacea, and it is known to soothe burns, reduce the appearance of surgical scars, and diminish stretch marks.
In the villages of Africa, Shea Butter is extracted primarily by women, whose main source of income is Shea Butter production – hence its name “Women’s Gold.”
Used medicinally, Shea Butter alleviates cold symptoms and facilitates the healing of wounds, bruising, and soreness. During a cold or flu, it can be applied directly to raw, sore noses to relieve nasal inflammation and to hydrate noses that have become dry from constant blowing. Applying a small amount to the bases of the nostrils can give relieve from congestion. The healing properties of Shea Butter, contributed by its high levels of phytonutrients and vitamins, facilitate the disinfecting and healing of wounds, cuts, and abrasions, especially with regular application. With rapid absorption, Shea Butter supplies the deep layers of skin with essential fats and nutrients, accelerating the reparation of cells and increasing circulation.
Benefits of Shea Butter:
The main chemical constituents of Shea Butter are: Oleic Acid, Stearic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Linoleic Acid, Cinnamic Acid Esters, Allantoin, and Polyphenols (Tocopherol/Vitamin E).
To simplify, let's see what some of these do for our skin.
•Maintain the softness, suppleness, and radiance of skin and hair
•Exhibit antioxidant properties
•Prevent joint inflammation, stiffness, and pain
•Have cleansing properties that purge dirt, sweat, and excess sebum from hair and skin
•Facilitate wound healing
•Soothe and promote the healing of skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis
•Soothe inflammation, irritation, and redness
•Deeply cleanse pores and balance oil production
•Protect skin against damage caused by UV radiation
•Stimulate production of collagen
- COSMETIC: Anti-Inflammatory, Regenerative, Anti-Aging, Hydrating, Skin-Conditioning, Softening, Smoothing, Restorative, Collagen-Boosting.
- MEDICINAL: Anti-Inflammatory, Regenerative, Anti-Microbial, Anti-Fungal, Stimulating, Restorative, Circulation-Boosting.
We use only unrefined Shea Butter of the highest organic certified quality from Ghana. It's derived by boiling the nuts in water, never solvents. Retains its vitamins, minerals, and other natural properties due to manual extraction.