Shea butter is legitimately referred to as nature’s miracle weapon. It serves as a versatile cure and care product and acts as a source of well-being. Its numerous ingredients counteract harmful environmental influences, have wound-healing, anti-inflammatory and cell-regenerating properties. The applications range from classic applications in cosmetics to medical applications and support in animal care.
What is shea butter?
Shea butter is a vegetable fat obtained from the carat nut. The nut of the shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) provides an ivory-coloured to yellowish fat, the smell of which is primarily described as greasy-spicy. Depending on the area of origin, the odour can also develop woody and smoky undertones. The melting point is 35°C – 40°C. Pure shea butter can last up to four years, even at high temperatures. However, storage above 30°C is not recommended. Shea butter is mostly used for cosmetic purposes. It is the basis of many personal care products, but can also be used pure like cream. It contains vitamin E, beta-carotene, allantoin and numerous levels of healthy fatty acids and has a very high proportion of unasible components (8-11%).
Won from the fruits of the Karité tree
Shea butter is made from shea nuts. These are the seeds of the fruit of the caritattree, also called african butter tree. This tree is found mainly in the African savannahs, for example in Senegal and Uganda. It thrives best at 25°C to 29°C. The tree grows very slowly and can grow 15 – 25 meters high. It forms fruit grapes. The fruits of the butter tree are not counted among the grapes, nor are they among the nuts, but they belong botanically to the berries. The green fruits are harvested between April and June. They are edible and have a slightly sweet taste. The shea butter is finally extracted from these fruits. Natural unrefined shea butter is also edible and is used in the production of chocolate. In Africa, it is also used as edible fat.
Production of shea butter
The fruits of the karité tree contain a fruit kernel called a karité nut. This nut is the basis for the production of shea butter. First, the nuts, which have up to 50% fat content, are peeled. They are then traditionally mortared with a stumble. This creates a brownish mass. Hot water is added to this mass. It is then kneaded until it produces a kind of dough. The kneading separates water and fat over time. As a result, the foamy shea fat floats upwards and can be gradually extracted from the water surface. After cooling, the final result is the valuable shea butter.
Originally, butter in Africa was traditionally made only by women by hand. But even there, machines are increasingly taking over the kneading of the butter mass.
The pure shea butter produced in this way has a slight colouring, which can range from whitish to ivory to yellowish. If the product is further processed and refined, it will definitely be white. This way, it is possible to determine at the time of purchase whether it is pure natural fat or a refined product.
Shea butter, unrefined is better
The term “unrefined shea butter” or “shea butter, unrefined” indicates to you as a consumer that this is a natural product. This shea butter is then natural and pure.
As soon as fragrances or flavourings are added, they are refined shea butter. Also, the addition of other natural oils (for example to affect the consistency) or essential oils changes the purity of the natural product.
The naturally healing effect may be reduced by the added substances. A cream obtained from the nut of the shea tree contains special ingredients such as vitamins E and A, as well as so-called unsatable portions, which ensure that the cream penetrates well into the skin and sticks there longer. This is the only way to protect the skin from dehydration, skin aging, wrinkle formation, etc. These unsaponifiable parts are no longer sufficiently present in refined shea butter and thus the actual healing substances of the valuable shea butter are lost.
The good quality of an unrefined shea butter can be recognized by the yellowish colour and the somewhat foreign-looking smell of fat. However, this odour evaporates during use.
Special ingredients of shea butter, the actual miracle weapon
Shea butter is extremely rich in vitamins and minerals. But also numerous other ingredients make the shea butter a very special healing and care product. It is therefore not only used in cosmetics, but is actually a cure for certain diseases, for example for alleviating rheumatism and joint problems.
The most important ingredients of shea butter are:
is one of the antioxidants, protection against free radicals, delays cell aging
Beta-carotene (also called provitamin A):
is one of the antioxidants, protection against heart disease, control of immune reactions of secondary plant substance that controls cell growth
Omega-3 fatty acids:
Prevention of heart disease, positive influence on blood pressure and cholesterol levels, relief of joint problems
Uric acid, anti-inflammatory effect, supports wound healingAllantoin supports cell regeneration and has proven itself as an ingredient to prevent skin irritation, often used as an additive in skin creams
Stearic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acidunsaturated fatty acids, maintain the natural acid protective mantle of the skin, improve the hydration of the skin, anti-inflammatory, form a natural skin barrier
have regenerative effects on the nerves, anti-inflammatory, thrombosis prophylaxis
antibacterial, decongestant, antispasmodic
Each individual ingredient already has its own specific effect. However, in the manifold composition, which naturally combines all good properties, shea butter becomes a true miracle cure. The active substance allantoin, for example, has anti-inflammatory properties that are important in wound healing. Therefore, the use of pure shea butter is often recommended for skin diseases such as neurodermatitis or psoriasis. But other skin problems can also be treated with shea butter easily. Their regenerating properties promote the regeneration and build-up of skin cells, which is why shea butter is often used as an anti-aging agent. In addition, it simply has a nourishing effect on dry skin. The skin becomes more supple. The miracle cure also serves well in scar care. Those who are frequently in the sun will also benefit from the natural protection factor.
It is the composition of various valuable active ingredients that make up the secret of shea butter. It is recommended as a natural skin care for every skin type. Therefore, it finds numerous applications in the medical as well as in the cosmetic field.
The ingredients not only penetrate the skin, but they are absorbed by the body and thus even strengthen the immune system.
Applications of shea butter
The natural active ingredients of shea butter have no side effects. Shea butter is therefore suitable as a care product for the whole body. It is used pure or in creams as well as in ointments and hair care products.
Shea butter as facial care
You can use shea butter on the face pure or mix with the usual day care. Since shea butter contains non-saponifiable ingredients, it is sufficient to apply the care once in the morning. Once absorbed into the skin, the shea butter forms a protective coat that cannot be washed off even with soap.
Regular use of shea butter ensures that the ingredients penetrate deep into the skin. This promotes blood circulation to the skin and leads to improved skin image. The skin is very well moisturized and small wrinkles, which are produced by dry skin, are tempered.
Vitamins E and beta-carotene also protect the skin from free radicals, which cause skin aging because they damage the skin cells.
Shea butter protects against sun, wind and cold. This is why it is particularly suitable in winter as an all-rounder for outdoor stays. Especially skiers will appreciate this effect.
As a lip balm, it protects against cold and dry air. It also leaves a natural glow on the lips.
Shea butter protects the skin from dryness. In this way, it contributes to the regeneration of the skin and can make cracked areas soft and supple again.
This effect also develops when applied to sunburnt skin areas or to smooth scars.
Its anti-inflammatory effect is particularly evident in eczema and neurodermatitis. Even joint pain and rheumatism can be significantly relieved by the regular use of shea butter and even disappear completely.
Shea butter relieves the symptoms of allergies and even a positive effect in the control of tumor cells has been shown in studies.
Effect for hair and scalp
Shea butter helps with split ends. Even a small amount massaged into the tips of the hair is enough to give the hair moisture and shine back.
For an intense hair cure, the shea butter can be easily distributed in the hair. Let act overnight and wash out in the morning, this care works wonders.
If the butter is massaged onto the scalp, the scalp is moisturized and dandruff is reduced. In addition, the itching associated with dry scalp decreases significantly.
As a bath additive
Shea butter can even be used as a bath additive. The shea butter melts into an oil in the warm water and is distributed on the surface of the water. When you get out of the bath water, the valuable oil sticks to the skin and can develop its regreasing properties. The skin feels like creamed after bathing.
The application of shea butter is very simple and natural. Anyone who has discovered this miracle cure will quickly appreciate the versatility and replace one or the other chemical agent.
Manufacture your own care products
If you like to experiment with natural products, shea butter should definitely be part of your repertoire as a basis for cosmetics.
The processing of the shea butter is child’s play. Since it becomes liquid at a very low temperature, it can be quickly and easily melted and mixed with other additives. It is enough to put some shea butter with a spoon in a cream bowl and place it on the warm heater or in the sun. Heating in the water bath is not necessary. After processing, the mixture can slowly cool down at room temperature or be re-solidified in the refrigerator.
It is popular to mix the shea butter with other natural oils such as jojoba oil or almond oil. Such a mixture results in a softer consistency than the pure shea butter and can therefore be used better than body butter, as it can be distributed more easily over a large area. An addition of essential oils is also conceivable, for example rose or jasmine oil, which are often used in skin care. Here, however, you should keep in mind that these can cause allergies. Use essential oils only in natural condition and very economical.
For example, a mixture of shea butter and coconut fatis suitable as lip care. Coconut fat is also easy to melt and mix well with shea fat. A lip balm from this combination also becomes a nourishing treat.
Proven efficacy – Scientific studies around shea butter
On the Internet you can find many customer opinions and articles about shea butter. Real consumers have tried the products and shared their experiences. There are many affirmative opinions on almost every field of application on the Internet. However, much more important than personal testimonials are confirmed and well-founded information on the effectiveness of such products, especially when it comes to medical effects. In fact, there are a number of treatises and scientific studies dealing with the subject of shea butter.
The effectiveness of shea butter has been studied time and again in recent years by researchers and physicians worldwide. Some of these studies can be found here.
Japanese study by the College of Science and Technology
In this study on the effectiveness of shea butter on inflammation, individual ingredients contained in shea butter were closely studied. The result: shea butter is anti-inflammatory.
In the same series of experiments, the Japanese researchers investigated the effectiveness of shea butter and its effect in the fight against tumor cells. In fact, the treated cells could be combated by the use of shea butter.
Further information on the study can be found here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20484832
Study by the U.S. National Institute of Health
In this study for the treatment of skin diseases, the effect of shea butter on skin eczema was investigated. The subjects were asked to treat affected skin areas twice a day with shea butter. Patients were examined at regular intervals and physicians noted a decrease in symptoms. Some study participants also observed the restoration of the natural skin protection barrier.
More information on this study can be found here:
Another study investigated the effect of shea butter as a remedy for swelling of the nasal mucosa. It was held in Lagos Nigeria in 1975. For this study, shea butter was made from fresh seeds of the shea butter plant. A detailed description of the procedure can be found in the scientific report. After the shea butter was obtained, 33 subjects were examined. All patients complained of mucosal swelling associated with allergies. The shea butter was applied to the nose and within a few minutes the swelling decreased so that the subjects could breathe normally. This effect lasted for several hours (5-8 hours). After repeated use of this procedure, the subjects were symptom-free after about 10 applications.
The study was placebo-controlled: 5 subjects only applied Vaseline instead of shea butter and could not see any improvement in breathing.
Some studies also investigated the effectiveness of shea butter on the animal organism.
Furthermore, there are some articles worth reading on the subject, for example here: https://www.ijsr.net/archive/v4i12/NOV152415.pdf
Shea butter not only scores in the variety of ingredients, but also in is naturally very high-quality and effective. It is still largely made by hand and unfolds its highest effectiveness in the purest, natural form. In an unrefined form, the shea butter has a yellowish color and smells spicy-greasy. However, the smell quickly evaporates during application. Refined products, i.e. processed products, lose their yellowish colour and are white.
Natural, i.e. unrefined shea butter is used in both the cosmetic and medical fields. And even in the animal world, the miracle weapon can have its effect, for example when dog owners embalm the paws of their pets with shea butter and protect them from salt and cold in winter.
Shea butter is not only versatile in use, but also particularly effective. Anti-inflammatory and stimulating properties have even been proven in scientific studies. Numerous testimonials from enthusiastic users confirm the truly comprehensive effects on the skin, hair and the entire organism. The psychological effect is also to be underestimated, because when inflammation recreates or the skin appearance is improved, the well-being as a whole also increases. Shea butter is really an all-rounder.