Where Does Shea Butter Come From?
The African shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) produces shea butter, which is a valuable substance. This fat is obtained from the shea kernel. Shea nuts are indigenous and abundant in various West and East African nations, and have been cultivated and transformed into a valuable ingredient for centuries.
By not adding any additional substances or preservatives during the extraction process, we can produce pure shea butter, which maintains its natural exceptional qualities.
Shea butter in its pure form has an ivory hue, but there are shea butter products that may appear white. The whiteness of these products is a result of the careful processing they go through during production. During the refinement process, shea butter loses its natural ivory color.
Processed shea butter does not have the natural scent that unrefined shea butter possesses. In addition, extensive processing of butter can remove up to 95% of its natural vitamin content.
How Shea Butter is Harvested and Extracted
The techniques used to gather and process shea nuts have remained largely unchanged over time, with a few exceptions in the use of modern grinding tools. The collection process starts when mature shea fruits naturally fall from the trees, usually happening in Uganda from April to June. The fruits are harvested early in the morning by indigenous women, who are often accompanied by their children before they start their day at school.
During the yearly period known as the ‘hungry season’, fruit pulp is a valuable source of calories, as well as essential vitamins and minerals, when there is a dire need for nourishment and food supplies are depleting. Inside the seed is a dry kernel that is stored carefully for the purpose of extracting shea butter through a detailed process.
Once the shell is completely dry, it is taken off, uncovering the shea kernel within. These kernels are then exposed to the sun for an additional duration of approximately four to five days. After this sun-drying period, the kernels undergo a dual grinding process using a motorized machine. The first round of grinding is meant to break them apart, while the second round results in a finely powdered form. To extract the oil, the powder is combined with a small quantity of pure boiling water. This mixture is then carefully placed into fresh cloth bags and compressed to release the valuable oil.
Why use shea butter?
Raw shea butter is a versatile ingredient that can provide relief for various issues and conditions. The benefits of this product include rejuvenating hair and skin, protecting from sun damage, and stimulating collagen synthesis. The widespread use of shea butter in many products is not unexpected. Its remedial properties are effective in restoring the skin’s protective shield and providing relief to individuals with dry skin, eczema-prone, or other skin conditions.
Shea butter benefits
Shea butter is a natural remedy that provides numerous benefits for the skin. In addition to its hydrating properties, this organic element also has antioxidant, anti-aging, and anti-inflammatory properties that can help with skin rejuvenation and provide relief for dry skin.
The popularity of shea butter is due to its unique properties. With the presence of tocopherol and catechins, this product effectively fights the signs of aging by providing a rich source of antioxidants. Additionally, shea butter contains lupeol, a compound that slows down the activity of enzymes that break down the skin’s supportive proteins. Additionally, its anti-inflammatory abilities are unmatched due to the presence of triterpene alcohols in its composition. Shea butter has beneficial fatty acids that can help with skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, as well as provide relief for arthritis. Additionally, the therapeutic potential of it can be attributed to the presence of antimicrobial properties.
Shea butter has been used by people in West Africa for centuries as a traditional healing remedy for various health issues, including wounds. Interestingly, this natural fatty acid also provides protection against harmful UV rays. Shea butter contains cinnamic acid esters, which allows it to absorb a small amount of UV radiation. Unrefined shea butter has an SPF equivalent of approximately 3 or 4. Furthermore, it has outstanding moisturizing and hydration properties without the greasiness typically found in regular moisturizers. Using refined and processed shea butter may not fully highlight its numerous benefits.
Shea butter has been used for centuries to provide numerous medicinal benefits for the skin. In addition to its moisturizing abilities, this natural element also has antioxidant properties that can help promote a youthful appearance and reduce inflammation, providing relief and recovery for the skin.