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Shea Butter
Shea Butter - Butyrospermum parkii

Native to West African countries, the shea tree grows predominantly wild in the African Savannah.  The fruit of the shea tree has been an important material to the local people who have used it for hundreds of years for food, medicinal and cosmetic purposes.  It also serves as a vital source of income for a number of African communities.


The shea fruit looks a little like a green plum and contains a stone.  The stone consists of around 50% oil, which is crushed/pressed out.  Further processing removes the free fatty acids and this not only prevents it from going rancid too quickly but also reduces the strong odour somewhat, while maintaining its unique properties.  Unrefined Shea butter will have a lovely soft texture, yellowy/white colour and nutty/buttery aroma. 

Shea butter contains vitamins and other active elements such as cinnamic acid, which can help protect the skin from UV rays as well having healing properties.  It also contains 5-10% phytosterols, which help to stimulate cellular regeneration and growth.  It is highly moisturising and protective having mild anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Shea Butter Is Good For (among other things):

  • Dry, dehydrated and mature skins
  • Deeply moisturising and can help to maintain skin elasticity
  • Chapped or sore skin
  • Helps dry skin with eczema and psoriasis
  • Healing and soothing
  • Damaged skin (including stretch marks - a good ingredient for belly balms)
  • Protects the skin from external elements
  • Can help protect the skin from UV rays and excellent for post-sun exposure to re-hydrate, calm and heal
  • Can be used in cooking

Uses:

Shea butter melts on contact with the skin.  It can be used neat or infused with fragrance or essential oils.  It provides a luxurious feel and a highly moisturising element to creams, lotions, lip balms, body butters, bath melts, soaps etc...
Professional Tip:  When adding shea butter to your formulations, don't allow it to get too hot as this can cause the butter to crystallize as it cools, which can lead to grittiness in your end product.

It is best to add your shea to any other oils, butters that have already been melted after you have removed them from the heat (allowing the heat from the mix to melt the shea).  Or you could melt the shea and heat to around 80 degrees C and allow it to maintain that temperature for at least 20 minutes before adding other ingredients.
 
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