Achieve Soft, Radiant, and Healthy Skin with Shea Butter
by Renz Paulo Rodriguez | 3 min read
What is Shea Butter?
Shea butter is a nutritious, buttery fat that comes from the nut of a tree called the Vitellaria paradoxa (formerly Butyrospermum parkii*), which grows almost exclusively in the dry savannah belt of West Africa—part of the world where shea butter has been mostly used as cooking oil and for cosmetics.
Shea butter is one of the most commonly used organic ingredients in skin and hair care products. It can be used as lotion or moisturizer as well as raw butter without any other ingredients. According to Safari Junkie™, “shea butter is used especially for dry, itchy and problematic skin and hair, for healing wounds and burns, for preventing stretch marks, for child’s sensitive skin, as UV protector, for tanning, and more."
Photo Courtesy: Safari Junkie
Shea Butter Manufacturing Process
The process of shea butter production is very long and difficult. Ghanian women are using traditional methods and almost the whole shea butter production process is made solely with hands, just like centuries ago. Women usually work together and help each other, which makes the work easier, more interesting, and more relaxed. Women in Ghana gather under a big tree outside compounds, where they can be protected from the merciless sun and work from the early morning to the late afternoon.
The traditional method of preparing unrefined shea butter in Africa is done by first removing the outer layer of pulp from the vitellaria fruit, then separating the nut from the outer shell. To make the shea nuts into the coveted butter, they are then crushed, traditionally with a pestle and mortar.
Next, the crushed shea nuts are roasted in a pot or vat over an open flame, where they must be constantly stirred to avoid burning, then they are ground while water is gradually added to create a paste. The paste is then kneaded in large containers while more water is gradually added to separate the oils. The oils are then removed and excess water is squeezed out. The oils are melted, again in a pot or vat over an open flame, evaporating any remaining water. The shea butter is then scooped out and cooled, which finally forms what we know as shea butter!
Photo Courtesy: Safari Junkie
Refined and Unrefined Raw Shea Butter
From this point, according to Safari Junkie, additional processing of the shea butter may occur, but out of women’s shea butter cooperatives. Shea butter is sometimes filtered in order to remove possible impurities. Also, with further purification, like cleaning and bleaching, its smell, composition, and color are abolished. This kind of butter is called refined shea butter and has no smell and typical white snowy color. When shea butter is not filtered in any way but sold directly from the point when women finish the process, it is called raw or unrefined shea butter. It has a nutty and roasted smell and an ivory or deep yellow color.
Skincare Benefits of Shea Butter
- Vitamin A. Encourages healthy skin cell production, smooths out wrinkles, evens skin tone, clears up acne, and much more. The vitamin A found in shea butter also gives it a natural UV protection of about 6 SPF.
- Vitamin E. Makes skin soft, radiant, and healthy, reduces the appearance of scars, fine lines, and wrinkles, and rejuvenates dehydrated skin.
- Vitamin F. It is partly composed of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are essential to the growth and maintenance of skin cells.
- Fatty Acids. Shea Butter consists of several types of fatty acids, including linoleic, oleic, palmitic, and stearic acids that can improve your skin's natural protective barrier while protecting your skin against damage from the environment like pollutants. Because its rich fatty-acid levels help to soften scar tissue and may speed up the scar-healing process, shea butter is also often found in scar-healing products. One research suggests it may be particularly effective in helping prevent keloid scars—the kind of scar that's raised, red and rubbery — from forming.
- Antioxidants. Fight inflammation and free radicals, which in turn allows collagen proteins to continue being produced.
- Phytosterols. Phytosterols are compounds that are similar to cholesterol and are found exclusively in plants. They can shield the skin from the sun's harmful UV rays, which in turn can slow signs of aging by increasing the production of collagen in the skin.
- Anti-Aging. According to Ambre Blends, “in its raw form, shea butter aids in tissue cell regeneration and has been shown to boost collagen production. People who use shea butter long term have reported that it softens and strengthens their skin and also helps in reducing wrinkles.”
- Antibacterial and Antifungal. One study suggests that oral doses of shea bark extract can lead to decreased antimicrobial activity in animals. According to Healthline, “although more research is needed, this could indicate possible antibacterial benefits in humans. Because of this, some speculate that topical application may decrease the amount of acne-causing bacteria on the skin. Additionally, shea tree products have been established as powerful ingredients to fight skin infections caused by fungi. While shea butter may not be able to treat every kind of fungal infection, we know that it kills spores of the fungi that cause ringworm and athlete’s foot.”
Discover some of Honeyskin’s Shea Butter-Infused Skincare Products
Honeyskin’s Shea Butter-Infused Ultimate Face and Body Cream
Achieve beautiful, radiant skin with Honeyskin’s Ultimate Hydrating Face Moisturizer and Body Cream. This all-purpose face and body cream provides deep and long-lasting hydration and moisturization. Not only does this cream moisturize dry skin, but it also delivers nutrient-enriched relief from a wide array of skin conditions, including eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, acne, and more. Infused with skin-loving botanicals, and natural and organic ingredients, including manuka honey, shea butter, and coconut oil, this face and body cream will leave your skin feeling soft, smooth, and healthy!
Honeyskin’s Shea Butter-Infused Mommy Belly Butter
Infused with a custom and premium blend of natural and organic ingredients including shea butter cocoa butter, rosehip, almond, and coconut oils, Honeyskin’s new Mommy Belly Butter is specifically formulated to help prevent and get rid of stretch marks and scars during and after pregnancy. It also protects, nourishes, and adds moisture and elasticity back to your skin, holds in moisture and prevents the skin from becoming dry, helps increase collagen production, promotes healthy cell regeneration, and evens out skin tone while keeping skin smooth, soft, supple, and healthy.
**International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) still refers to shea butter as Butyrospermum parkii, which is why it appears as such on our ingredient lists.
Olaitan PB, Chen I-Ping, Norris JEC, Feinn R, Oluwatosin OM, Reichenberger EJ. Inhibitory activities of omega-3 Fatty acids and traditional African remedies on keloid fibroblasts. Wounds: a compendium of clinical research and practice. 2011; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3905615/
Safari Junkie. Safaris & Adventures to Africa | Safari Junkie. Safari Junkie. https://safarijunkie.com/ghana/making-shea-butter-in-ghana/
Watson K. What Is Shea Butter? 22 Reasons to Add It to Your Routine. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/what-is-shea-butter#antioxidant
Ayankunle AA, Kolawole OT, Adesokan AA, Akiibinu MO. Antibacterial Activity and Sub-chronic Toxicity Studies of Vitellaria paradoxa Stem Bark Extract. Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology. 2012;7(6):298-304. Accessed October 31, 2022. https://scialert.net/fulltext/?doi=jpt.2012.298.304
What Is Shea Butter & Its Benefits For Skin | SkinMindBalance. AVEENO®. Published 2020. Accessed October 31, 2022. https://www.aveeno.com/journal/what-shea-butter-5-skin-benefits-worth-knowing
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