New To Shea? 10 Things You Might Not Have Known About Unrefined Shea Butter

Posted by on 8/26/2014 to Ingredient Knowledge
It has a nutty and smoky scent to it. In its refined state, the odor is removed along with the color. In its unrefined or natural state, its color can vary from light beige to pale yellow (bright yellow shea has an added root extract). That's Shea butter. You may have heard of it and, most likely, seen its name splashed across the ingredients of some modern and all-natural beauty products, from lotions to moisturizers.

But if you thought unrefined shea butter is some new discovery, think again. This all-natural and beneficial product has actually been used for centuries. It wasn’t just reserved for beauty, but also for quite a lot of healing. Here are 10 things you might not have known about this product.

  1. Shea butter comes from the nuts of karite nut trees, also called the Mangifolia tree, which grows in the semi-arid savannah regions of West and Central Africa. These trees grow in the wild and take up to 50 years to mature.

  2. African healers have used shea butter for centuries to treat burns and several different skin conditions. So it has played (and continues to play) a significant part in African pharmacology, thanks in large part to the substance’s anti-inflammatory properties.

  3. Shea butter’s healing properties have also been used in speeding up the cicatrization (i.e., wound healing), that produces scar tissue, of the umbilical cord and post-circumcision.

  4. It is also reported that shea butter was an ideal anti-arthritic treatment and good for remedying sprains and strains.

  5. Historical references also point to the cosmetic use of shea butter, most notably during Cleopatra’s era. The emollient properties of this natural product have made (and to this day still make) it valuable and effective for hair and skin care regimens. And in Africa’s harsh locations, having shea butter certainly made beauty much easier to maintain.

  6. It has also been reported that shea butter has been massaged onto babies’ skin in order to protect them from harsh weather.

  7. Early usage also indicates that the African continent’s relationship with shea butter goes far beyond healing and cosmetic purposes. It was in fact used for cooking, too. Shea butter not only improved the taste of a dish but also made it digestible. People living in the semi-arid regions of the Sahara have used it on their porridge because shea butter keeps the staple food from drying out.

  8. Shea butter is proven to reduce the different signs of aging. Its regenerating properties prevent photoaging. Different clinical studies have shown shea butter to be effective in diminishing wrinkles while improving the suppleness of skin.

  9. Shea butter is best used in oil-free formulations because it allows for good spreadability with quick rub-in properties.

  10. It has been observed, as far back as the 1940s, that communities using shea butter demonstrated fewer incidences of skin diseases, and that the population’s skin condition was described as being “smooth and supple.”

New To Shea? 10 Things You Might Not Have Known About Unrefined Shea Butter