What is Shea Butter?
How can I tell if something is good Shea Butter?
How should Shea Butter smell?
How do I store Shea Butter?
My Shea Butter melted. What do I do?
What color should Shea Butter be?
How can Shea Butter benefit me?
How does Shea Butter benefit my skin?
What does Shea Butter benefit my hair?
Is all Shea Butter the same?
What can I tell by looking at the label?
Where can I get good Shea Butter?
What's the difference between raw shea butter and refined shea butter?
Do I want raw Shea Butter or refined Shea Butter?
What about East African Shea Butter?
It's possible that you may have only recently heard of Shea Butter. But, its use is far from a new-fangled fad. African have known the benefits of Shea Butter for centuries. Down through the generations, native Africans have used Shea Butter to soothe and rejuvenate their hair and skin. Shea Butter is not only for those of us with dark skin though. Every skin typs can benefit from the use of Shea Butter. Today, Shea Butter is available in pure form and as an ingredient in many products to help with maintenance of the hair and skin and relief from many common ailments.
Most Shea Butter comes from West Africa or Ghana. A few years ago a softer and smoother variety from Uganda in East Africa started becoming more popular. You can read more about it below.
- Raw or unrefined- This Shea Butter will be extracted using only water. The color will vary based on the nuts used. The color will range from a cream color or slightly off-white to an actual yellow or yellowish gray. This is the original form of Shea Butter. It will also usually have a distinct nutty aroma.
- Refined- is more highly processed. It may be filtered and deodorized. Many of its natural components are still in there. But, some of the natural coloring and aroma will have been removed.
- Highly refined or processed- In this case something other than water is used to increase the amount of butter that can be taken from a bath. A solvent like hexane will be used. The color of this product will be pure white.
Treasured Locks only sells raw or unrefined shea butter. We only provide the highest quality available- certified as such. And, we never sell shea butter that has been extracted using solvents.
Shea Butter in it natural state has an aroma which most people find quite pleasant or at least not offensive. I think it's a smell that actually grows on you over time. The smell of raw West African Shea varies is typically a nutty smell. As Shea Butter ages, the aroma will begin to decrease. If you purchase unrefined Shea Butter with almost no smell, the chances are it's old. Shea Butter is pretty stable when kept properly. But, it can go rancid. Shea Butter should not have a mildewed or rotten smell, not matter the age. If you happen to dislike the aroma of natural raw Shea Butter, you can purchase more highly refined Shea that has been filtered through clay to remove the natural aroma. But, before doing that, we'd recommend buying the smoother variety from East Africa.
How do I store Shea Butter?
You don't have to keep Shea Butter refrigerated. In fact doing so would make it very difficult to use. It will keep under normal conditions for about two to three years. Over time it will be less effective in terms of its healing properties. But, it will remain a good moisturizer. Keep it in a cool place and keep the container closed to keep out contamination.
This is not at all unusual. In the summer months, a lot of Shea Butter that is shipped will melt somewhere along the route to you. If you happen to leave it in the car (we've done this many times) and you come back and it's liquid, don't panic. Actually, one of the wonderful properties of Shea Butter is the fact that it melts right around body temperatures. When you apply it to your skin, it quickly becomes liquid making it easy to apply and to be asborbed. If your Shea Butter melts, just take the lid off the container and set it in the refrigerator. Or just keep it in an air conditioned room. As it begins to cool, give it a stir every once in a while to bring the liquid parts (which are called olein) back into uniform distribution with the solid parts (called stearin).
The color of Shea Butter will vary more than you might expect. The ultimate color of the butter will depend on the karite nuts used. Shea nuts will differ in color from almost white to yellow. There is no way to determine the quality of the Shea Butter based solely on its color. There is even a naturally almost saffron (golden yellow) colored Shea Butter. But, Shea Butter shouldn't be green or very hard. We prefer ivory or beige Shea Butter which indicates it hasn't been too highly refined. Shea Butter that is too white was probably pretty highly refined and may not be as good at healing.
How can Shea Butter benefit me?
Over the years we've found that Shea Butter can help so many problems that a joke around our house is it's like Windex in the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". Tywana's always saying "Put a little Shea Butter on it." Shea Butter can provide relief from everything from just dry skin to many minor dermatological diseases (if you have a serious skin condition, you should see a doctor). It has been clinically shown to provide benefits. Here are some of the benefits of Shea Butter for the skin:
We aren't making any medical claims about anyone's Shea Butter. It's not a wonder drug. But, we have seen it help a lot of people with a lot of condtions. And, we know people who think it has worked better than many prescriptions. We have had several customers and friends used Shea Butter to treat mild-to-moderate eczema and/or psoriasis. Some have reported it has worked as well for them as steroidal creams prescribed by their doctors. And, it's a lot cheaper. One of our customers began using one of our Shea Butter lotions (it wasn't even pure Shea Butter) and just happened to notice that it stopped a sun allergy she normally got from even a little exposure to the sun. It was totally unintentional and an unexpected "side effect".
Treasured Locks takes care to source our Shea Butter only from reputable sources to ensure freshness, quality and the refining technique to ensure there are no contaminants and that the "good stuff" is left in.
What's the difference between raw Shea butter, refined Shea butter and highly refined Shea Butter?
The differences between raw, refined and highly refined Shea Butter lie in how the Shea Butter is extracted from the nut and how it is processed after that. Manual extraction processes leave more of the raw ingredients in the Shea Butter. After it is extracted, it can be further refined removing color and impurities that some people don't like. This further refining can also remove some of the smell. You can think of the difference between raw Shea Butter and refined Shea Butter as being similar to the difference between wheat bread and white bread. Truly raw Shea Butter can even be unfiltered. That is one end of the spectrum. On the other end, there is Shea Butter that is extracted using chemicals that is pure white, has no smell and has lost a lot of its healing properties in the process.
All of our Shea Butter is mechanically extracted. No chemicals (other than water) are used in the process. Our raw Shea Butter is lightly filtered. But, retains its natural color and smell.
Do I want raw Shea Butter or Refined Shea Butter?
After years of experience with Shea Butter, we have to say we prefer raw Shea Butter. The more Shea is refined, the more natural goodness is removed. It's certain that none of Shea's healing properties are improved by the process that is used to make it white and odorless or to increase the yield from a batch. The only possible drawback we can think of from raw Shea is the odor- which quickly fades after you've put it on. If you really do not like the odor, we recommend trying Shea from Uganda or East African Shea Butter. It's more expensive. But, it has less of an aroma and is softer and possibly slighly better at moisturizing.
What about East African Shea Butter?
There are differing opinions as to whether West African (Vitellaria Paradoxa) or East African (Vitellaria Nilotica) is better. East African Shea Butter is different from that from West Africain the balance between the olein and stearin (solid and liquid parts). East African Shea has a higher liquid fraction. As a result, East African Shea is softer at room temperature, sometimes being in a semi-solid or almost liquid state. The East African Shea is more expensive. But, it provides Ugandan women farmers several times more money than is earned by West African Shea farmers. East African or Ugandan Shea Butter is more easily absorbed into the skin due to having less saturated fatty acids. West African Shea Butter will have more vitamin A and more sterols. If you're seeking a natural vitamin A cream or are using Shea Butter to prevent stretch marks, you might want to use West African Shea Butter. If you are looking for something to be primarily a moisturizer,East African Shea Butter would be preferable.
East African or Ugandan Shea Butter is less common than West African Shea and can be difficult to find at times. When it is available it oftens sells at the equivalent of up to $40 per two ounces. We are pleased that we have found reliable, price competitive sources and offer this super-premium quality Shea Butter to you at very reasonable prices.
Ugandan Shea Butter is excellent for conditions where the skin is dry. Knees, elbows, hands and scalp are areas that are typically dry.