Shea Butter (The Complete Guide)

Shea butter is an incredibly popular beauty and skincare ingredient, known for its moisturising benefits and its potential to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. It's an edible butter, but there are some warnings to consider before consuming it. The use of shea butter goes back thousands of years, and it is a popular ingredient in many skincare and beauty products. This guide will cover the history of shea butter, its uses and benefits, how and when to apply it, and where to buy it. We've compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about shea butter, so you can make the most informed decision about adding it to your health and skincare routine.

What is the history of Shea Butter?

Shea butter has been used for centuries in Africa to protect and moisturise skin. It comes from the Shea tree, which grows naturally in the savannahs of West and Central Africa. The Shea tree’s nut-like fruits produce a rich and creamy paste, which is then extracted, roasted, and boiled to make shea butter. It was traditionally used for healing, protecting and moisturising the skin, and for its nutritive properties. 

What are the uses and health benefits of shea butter? 

Shea butter is an incredibly versatile ingredient with numerous benefits for both skin and hair. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making it a great anti-aging product for skin. Shea is also incredibly nourishing, helping to deeply moisturise and hydrate skin and hair. It can be used to treat skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, stretch marks, scars, dark spots, sunburn, scalp irritation, help heal rashes, reduce acne, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and can often help with other forms of skin irritation. It can be used to help protect skin and hair from environmental stressors like wind, pollution, and UV rays. It can also be be beneficial to other conditions such as arthritis, and muscle pain.

How to apply shea butter

Shea butter can be applied directly to the skin or hair, or used in combination with other ingredients in moisturising products. When applying shea butter to the skin, it should be used sparingly, as it is very rich and greasy. It can be applied once or twice a day, depending on the skin’s needs. For hair, shea butter can be used as a deep conditioner, by applying it to the ends of the hair and letting it sit for several minutes before rinsing. 

Is Shea Butter Edible?

Although shea butter is generally considered to be edible. It is made from the nuts of the African shea tree, and while its exact nutritional content is not known, it is known to contain stearic, oleic, linoleic, and palmitic acids, as well as vitamins A and E. However, there are some warnings associated with consuming shea butter. It may cause an upset stomach, especially if consumed in large quantities. Additionally, if you are pregnant, it is best to avoid shea butter as it can cause contractions. We wouldn’t recommend consuming it as most shea butter is not food grade and could have other additives that could be harmful. 

Can you get shea butter pure?

Yes, pure shea butter is available. Pure shea butter is usually made from 100% shea nuts, without any added ingredients or chemicals. This type of shea butter is usually more expensive than the refined versions, but the pure version will often have higher concentrations of the beneficial nutrients and fatty acids. 

Is Shea Butter Organic?

Yes, shea butter is usually organic if it is unrefined and cold-pressed. Refined shea butter often contains added chemicals and other substances, so it is best to opt for the unrefined, organic version. To ensure that you are getting the best quality, it is recommended to buy shea butter from a trusted source that clearly labels the product as organic and offers detailed information about the harvesting and processing methods.

Is Shea Butter Yellow or White?

When you're looking for Shea butter, you may be wondering which option is the most desirable. Choosing between an unrefined yellow Shea butter and a refined white Shea butter can be confusing, so let's take a look at the differences. Unrefined yellow Shea butter is typically raw when purchased. It may have a pungent odour and contain impurities. However, it is the closest to its natural state and usually considered the best quality.

Refined white Shea butter has been processed through a filter in order to remove impurities and make it more palatable. This is the Shea butter that you will often find in stores and it is usually the most common variety purchased. So when it comes to deciding between yellow and white Shea butter, it really depends on what you're looking for. If you want an unprocessed and more natural product, then yellow Shea butter is the best option. But if you want a more refined product, then white Shea butter is the way to go. No matter which option you choose, you can rest assured that you're getting a quality product.

Where to Buy Shea Butter

Shea butter can be found in many health food stores, online retailers, and specialty stores. It is usually sold in either raw or refined form. Raw shea butter is more natural and prone to spoilage, while refined shea butter has a longer shelf life. You can buy shea butter enriched with essential oils which creates a spa like experience at home. 

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