Shea butter is a common ingredient in many natural face creams and hair treatments. It has nourishing and soothing properties, especially beneficial for dry skin, dermatitis or psoriasis.
Shea butter is obtained from the dried fruit that grows on “the African butter tree”, Vitellaria Paradoxa. This species is native to western and central tropical Africa. Since growing the shea tree from seed is difficult (the tree does not flower for the first time until the age of 20 and it takes 30 years to reach its full capacity), it is not profitable to grow it in plantations. However, it is a naturally widespread and respected tree in West Africa.
The extraction of the fat is laborious and most of the production is done by hand. First, the pulp and skin are removed from the heart, then the very fatty heart is roasted, grated and the fat is separated with the help of water.
SHEA BUTTER PROPERTIES
The vegetable butter obtained in this way has the following properties:
- It is solid at room temperature and melts between 28 and 38 ° C, which makes it especially suitable for solid creams and care products that melt on the skin.
- Pure, untreated vegetable fat has a firm, doughy consistency, light yellow or slightly greenish in color, and smells and tastes spicy, nutty, and slightly chocolatey. Deodorized shea butter, on the other hand, is largely odorless, tasteless, and almost white.
- Shea butter is rich in unsaturated fatty acids, such as omega-3 fatty acids and linoleic acid, as well as vitamins such as vitamin E (tocopherol).
- It is abundant in antioxidants, for example, allantoin and beta-carotene, which protect against cell damage.
- It is a valuable ingredient in natural soaps, because it contains many unsaponifiable ingredients that make it particularly valuable for skin care.
- Shea butter is low-comedogenic, that is, it does not clog pores, so it is also suitable for the care of impure skin prone to pimples.
- With its soothing properties for the skin, vegetable fat is especially suitable for the care of dry skin, as well as for the sensitive dermis prone to inflammation.
- Pure shea butter can be kept for several years without refrigeration. However, to avoid premature spoilage, it is advisable to store large amounts of vegetable fat in a cool place.
ALWAYS BUY ORGANIC SHEA BUTTER
Shea butter is sourced in tropical Africa and goes a long way to local trade. Therefore, its ecological footprint is not optimal. To use shea butter that is as respectful as possible with the environment, it is advisable to use it in moderation and only ecologically produced products and ideally fair trade. Shea butter and shea butter cosmetic products can be found online, in health food stores, and some herbalists.
SHEA BUTTER FOR SKIN AND HAIR
- Shea butter is ideal for the care of dry, sensitive and inflamed skin, especially on the face.
- Blemish skin can also be pampered with this plant-based butter because it doesn’t clog pores.
- It is suitable for the care of scars and stretch marks.
- As a hair treatment or hair butter, shea butter ensures smooth and shiny hair.
SHEA BUTTER FOR COOKING
In Europe, shea butter is used mainly for cosmetic purposes. In its countries of origin, in India and Japan, however, shea butter is also used in cooking, for frying, for example, because it reaches very high temperatures before smoking (the smoke point is 210 ° C).
Of course, only pure, unrefined and untreated shea butter is suitable for cooking. As a frying fat, shea gives food a flavor that is slightly reminiscent of walnut.
To veganize recipes with butter, shea butter can be used. Chocolate desserts acquire a pleasant aroma, if cocoa butter is partially or completely replaced by shea butter.