July 01, 2021
Shea butter is probably not a new ingredient to you. In fact, if you’ve ever bought a body butter you’ve likely used it for years. But, how much do you know about this magical uber-hydrating ingredient? Well, you’re about to know a whole lot more.
Where does Shea butter come from?
No, there isn’t some magical shea animal wandering around the world that produces this nourishing goodness. Shea is in fact nut butter. The “butter” comes from the pip of the shea tree, which is native to west and central Africa, specifically south of the Sahara Desert. The pulp and the fat that comes from the nut are both edible - in fact, it can often be found in chocolate. The fat is extracted from the nut (or seed) of the fruit and it’s that that is used to make Shea butter as we know it.
Shea butter and beauty
If you have dry skin, no doubt shea butter is already a regular on your beauty roster. It’s found in a large range of both hair and skin/ body care products because of its many beauty benefits including: conditioning and smoothing hair, moisturising dry skin and even as a pre-shave balm. But we are far from the first people to have used it for cosmetic purposes. In fact, not too long ago a bunch of US anthropologists found the remains of Shea nut shells in an African site that date back to 100 CE.
So why is it such a wonder product? So many reasons. Shea butter is packed full of antioxidants and fatty acids. In fact, it has an impressive five different fatty acids including oleic, linoleic, arachidic, palmitic and stearic, with the highest percentage being attributed to oleic and stearic. These are easily absorbed by the skin so will nourish the skin and help repair the skin barrier, which protects it from environmental aggressors and moisture loss. It also contains vitamins A and E, both that have anti-ageing benefits, and it’s also been known to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help with some skin conditions (like psoriasis.
Knowing all this, it’s no surprise that shea butter is a staple ingredient in beauty products. So, whether you’re looking for something to turn your leg-scales to smooth, or a nourishing hand cream look for products that list Shea as one of their primary ingredients.