Where Does Shea Butter Come From?
Shea butter is handcrafted in Togo under Fair Trade and organic standards. My pure and unrefined shea butter comes from seeds of wild shea trees scattered throughout the fields and forests of the wooded savanna in Central and Northern Togo. The moisturizing and healing properties of shea butter have recently been discovered by the Western cosmetic industry, but shea butter has been a mainstay of African pharmacology for centuries.
What are the Benefits of Shea Butter?
Shea butter has many useful properties and has been traditionally used as a decongestant and anti-inflammatory for sprains and arthritis, a healing salve for babies, and a lotion for hair and skin care. However, the protective and emollient properties of shea butters are most valued for skin care.
What are the Uses of Shea Butter?
In Central Togo, shea butter is applied to the hair and skin as a moisturizer. Unrefined shea butter contains an abundance of healing ingredients including vitamins, minerals, proteins, and a unique fatty acid profile and is a superior active moisturizer. Unlike petroleum based moisturizers, shea butter actually restores the skin’s natural elasticity. Shea butter enables your skin to absorb moisture from the air and, as a result, it becomes softer and stays moisturized longer. In addition, shea butter has natural sun screen properties and anti-inflammatory agents. Because of its amazing properties, shea butter is an excellent ingredient for soaps, lotions and creams. Regular users of pure unrefined shea butter notice softer, smoother, healthier skin.
Shea butter has also been shown to help with skin conditions and ailments such as extreme dryness, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, skin allergies, fungal infections, blemishes, wrinkles, stretch marks, scars, scrapes, and more.
Refined and Unrefined Shea Butter – The Difference
Only pure, unrefined shea butter has the true healing and moisturizing properties of shea butter. No shea butter available to the general public outside of West Africa is white and odorless. In other words, it has been “refined” to remove the natural scent and color of natural shea butter. In the process, the majority of the effective agents are also removed. In addition, refined shea butter has usually been extracted from the shea kernels with hexane, or other petroleum solvents. The extracted oil is boiled to drive off the toxic solvents and then refined, bleached, and deodorized which involves heating it over 400F and a use of harsh chemicals such as sodium hydroxide. Shea butter extracted in this manner still contains some undesirable solvent residues, and its healing values are significantly reduced. Antioxidants or preservatives such as BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) or BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) may be added as well. The end result is an odorless white butter that may be aesthetically appealing but lacks the true moisturizing, healing, and nutritive properties of true traditional shea butter. In addition, refined shea butter is often hard and grainy, not smooth and creamy like pure unrefined shea butter. All that can be said for refined shea butter is that it has an extended shelf life, a white uniform color, and no odor. The Baobab tree is a traditional African tree whose seeds make an oil that is luscious and has a wonderful aroma.