While you may have only recently heard of Shea Butter, its use is far
from a recent development. The benefits of Shea Butter have been well
known for centuries. Africans have used Shea Butter for many
generations to protect and rejuvenate their hair and skin. Shea Butter
is not only for those of African descent though. Everyone can take
advantage of Shea Butter's benefits. 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.
What is Shea Butter?
Shea Butter is only found in the tropics of Africa. It is extracted
from the nuts of the Shea-Karite tree which begins to bear fruit after
about 15 years; and can take up to
30 years to bear a quality crop of nuts with a high content of
irremovable fatty acid. It is this irremovable fatty acid that gives
Shea Butter its unique healing properties and makes it far superior to
cocoa butter and other vegetable butters. Traditionally, Shea Butter
was extracted by people who picked the nuts, cracked them, grilled them
and pounded them. They were boiled in water for hours until the Shea
Butter rose to the surface. It was then scooped into gourds and left to
cool and set. Shea Butter is solid at room temperature although it
quickly liquefies right around body temperature. This Shea Butter is
called unrefined Shea Butter or raw Shea Butter. Since Shea Butter is
an all natural product, it can vary widely in quality, appearance and
smell depending on where it is produced from and how it is refined or
extracted. Body Harmony uses only unrefined Shea Butter from Ghana
Most Shea Butter comes from West Africa. Although a softer and smoother
variety from East Africa is beginning to appear on the market.
How can I tell if the quality of Shea Butter is good?
Pure Shea Butter can be found in three types of extractions. Also, recently, Shea Butter has begun to be graded.
or unrefined- extracted using water. The color ranges from like cream
(similar to whipped butter) to grayish yellow. This is the original
form of Shea Butter.
Refined- is more highly processed. Has many of its natural components still intact, however the nutritional value is
refined or processed- solvents are used to increase the yield (hexane
is an example). The color is pure white. Many businesses selling Shea
Butter to the public sell refined Shea Butter for a great price. In
actuality the customer is receiving mostly lard.
How should Shea Butter smell?
Shea Butter has a natural smell, which is not unpleasant to most
people. The smell of raw or lightly refined West African Shea varies
from nutty to similar to Crisco® or shortening. The best of the best
has a nutty order. Over time the smell of the Shea Butter will
diminish. If an unrefined Shea Butter has almost no smell, it is
probably getting old. Shea Butter should not “stink”, no matter how old
it is. Smell stronger, yes. It is possible for Shea Butter to go
rancid, and so large quantities should be refrigerated until ready for
use. If it does, do not use it! If you do not like the smell of
natural, raw Shea Butter, you can purchase more highly refined Shea
Butter that has been de-odorized and filtered through clay. However, we
do not recommend ever buying Shea Butter that has been refined using
hexane or other solvents.
How do I store Shea Butter?
Butter does not need to be refrigerated unless the room temperature has
the potential of getting over 80. However, over a period of two or
three years, the Shea Butter will begin to lose some of its
effectiveness. As the natural ingredients begin to break down, some of
the healing benefits will be reduced, but the Shea Butter will continue
to be an effective moisturizer. Store Shea Butter is a cool (not
necessarily cold) place. If you're going to use it within a couple of
years, you should have no problems. If there is the potential of
rodents or ants being attracted to the fruit, then it is best kept it
in a sealed container; remembering, that Shea Butter is a food in
Africa. They cook with it.
My Shea Butter melted
One of the great things about Shea Butter is its low melting point.
When you apply it to your skin, it literally liquefies. However, one of
the bad things about Shea Butter is its low melting point. It's quite
possible it will melt in a hot room. It may even be melted when it's
delivered to you in the summer months. If this happens, don't worry.
The Shea Butter is good. Just take the lid off of the container and set
it in the refrigerator until it gets hard again. As it begins to cool,
you might want to give it a stir to bring the olein (liquid parts) back
into contact with the stearin (solid parts) so that the Shea Butter is
What color should my Shea Butter be?
The color of unrefined Shea Butter depends on the Shea nuts used. Shea
nuts will vary in color from almost white to yellow like rich butter.
Therefore, refined Shea Butter will vary in color. You will not be able
to determine the authenticity or quality of Shea Butter based strictly
on its color. There is even a naturally golden yellow colored Shea
Butter. Shea Butter should never be green, extremely hard or greasy.
Most Shea Butter is a creamy color. Shea Butter that is pure white is
highly refined and may or may not have its healing properties intact
depending on how it was refined.
How can Shea Butter benefit me?
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
Daily skin moisturizer (face and body)
Dry skin relief
Skin rash- including diaper rash
Skin peeling, after tanning
Blemishes and wrinkles
Itching skin due to dryness
Shaving cream to reduce razor irritation
Small skin wounds
Stretch mark prevention during pregnancy
Sun and wind protection
Even skin tone
Reduce blemishes and scarring
Eliminating scalp irritation from dryness or chemical processing
Preventing bumps after shaving
Absorbs quickly without leaving a greasy residue
Helps restore elasticity to skin
Restores luster to hair
Soften tough skin on feet (especially heels)
The nutritional value is a treasure in itself. Raw Shea Butter is extremely high in vitamins A - K - E
& F and loaded with trace minerals.
All can be absorbed into the body and utilized for healing.
How does Shea Butter benefit my skin?
Shea Butter nourishes the skin with Vitamins A, K, E and F. Vitamins A
and E help maintain the skin and keep it clear and healthy. They are
particularly helpful for sun damaged skin. They help prevent premature
wrinkles and facial lines. Vitamin F acts as a skin protector and
rejuvenator. It soothes rough, dry or chapped skin and helps soften dry
or damaged hair. Shea Butter is high in unsaponifiables (a type of
fat). Shea Butter has between 7-12% unsaponifiables. For comparison,
avocado oil, a well known skin conditioner, has between 2-6%. This high
level of unsaponifiables is one of the properties that makes Shea
Butter so invaluable in treating the conditions listed above. Also,
Shea Butter easily penetrates the skin allowing the skin to breathe and
not clogging pores. Shea Butter has a high level of cinnamic acid, a
natural sun screen. So, it provides some degree of protection from the
sun. Shea Butter is also anti-inflammatory making it useful in treating
While Body Harmony makes no medical claims about Shea Butter, we do
have anecdotal evidence that it is very useful in treating minor skin
conditions. We have had several clients who have used Shea Butter for
eczema and/or psoriasis tell us it works as well as steroids at a
fraction of the cost and without the side effects.
How does Shea Butter benefit my hair?
Shea Butter provides moisture to dry or damaged hair from the
roots to the very tips, repairing and protecting against weather
damage, dryness and brittleness. It also absorbs quickly and completely
into the scalp to re-hydrate without clogging pores. It is particularly
beneficial for processed and heat-treated hair. It is an excellent
treatment for dry scalp. It restores luster to damaged hair. Body
Harmony hair and scalp treatments, using our un-refined Shea Butter,
has been reported by many of our clients as slowing down or stopping
the loss of their hair. One client who had the Lap-band weight
reduction procedure done was loosing her hair nearly by the hand fulls,
until she began to have weekly scalp and hair treatments with our Shea
Butter and scalp massage. She reports that her hair has never looked
and felt better.
Is all Shea Butter the same?
All Shea Butter is not the same. Shea Butter loses some of its
healing properties as it sits on the shelf, so very old Shea Butter is
not as beneficial. Refining techniques will vary. Highly processed Shea
Butter will not be as effective. Sometimes Shea Butter is mixed with
other ingredients that reduce its benefits. Then, there are those
products that add very little Shea Butter but prominently display "Shea
Butter" on the label. In some places Shea Butter is very expensive. You
should be aware of products that claim to provide the benefits of Shea
Butter and sell for very low prices, or very expensive. Learn about
Shea Butter by what we have to share with you. Many manufacturers are
taking advantage of the Shea Butter buzz by adding a little Shea Butter
to a very expensive and inexpensive product implying you can get the
benefits of Shea Butter in their product.
What can I tell by looking at the label?
Ingredients on the label should be listed in the order from the
ingredient that is the most to the least. Therefore, you should look
for Shea Butter products that list Shea Butter early on the list of
ingredients. You should know the ingredients before you buy any Shea
Butter product and should buy from a reputable source. The more Shea
Butter in a product, the greater the likelihood, you will receive the
full benefits of Shea Butter.
Body Harmony receives our Shea Butter directly from Africa. There is
not list of ingredients as we receive our Shea in 20 -30 and 50 pound
What's the difference between raw Shea butter, refined Shea butter, and highly refined Shea Butter?
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;
the same with pure brown cane sugar and white processed sugar. 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
its healing properties in the process.
Body Harmony’s Shea Butter is mechanically extracted. No chemicals
(other than water) are used in the process. Our raw Shea Butter is
lightly filtered, and it retains its natural color and smell. Our Ultra
Pure Shea Butter is refined. It is further processed by being put
through clay filters. It retains its healing properties and
Do I want raw Shea Butter or Refined Shea Butter?
This is really a matter of preference. We want only raw Shea Butter for
your body. Unless you do not like the smell of Shea Butter, we
recommend you go with raw. The more the Shea Butter is processed, the
higher the chance some of the "good stuff" is going to be removed.
Certainly, none of the healing or moisturizing properties of Shea
Butter are enhanced by the further processing to make it white and
odorless. If you do not like the smell of our Shea Butter, it just
won’t matter anymore after you have had your first Body Harmony
session. You’ll learn to love it. Some of our clients take the lid off
the glass Shea Butter container, where we store it... just to take a
big whiff! For a MAJOR endorphin release!
What about East African Shea Butter?
There is some confusion as to which shea butter is better, West African
(Vitellaria Paradoxa) or East African (Vitellaria Nilotica). East
African Shea Butter is different from that of the West African
varieties in that it is higher in olein (the liquid part of the Shea
Butter). Because of this, East African Shea Butter is softer and more
fragrant than West African Shea Butter. The product is highly valued
and gives Ugandan women farmers over five times the amount received by
their West African counterparts. East African or Ugandan Shea Butter
has a higher absorption rate due to lower saturated fatty acids. East
African Shea Butter has less vitamin A and less sterols. For a natural
vitamin A cream or to use for prevention of stretch marks, you might
want to use West African Shea Butter. However, if you are looking for
natural, intense moisturize, East African Shea Butter is the way to go.
Our Shea Butter is a bit of it all.
Please read about Fair Trade - Something you need to know about regarding our very special Shea Butter.)