Raw Shea Butter (Butyrospermum Parkii) is an all-natural product that helps significantly in promoting great skin. Raw Shea Butter is the aromatic, naturally occurring fat extracted by crushing, grinding and boiling the nuts produced by the Shea or Karite tree.
Where Does It Come From?
Shea trees are found in the savannah regions of West, Central and some parts of East Africa. Shea/Karite trees typically take between 15 to 20 years to first bear fruit and will produce a full crop after about thirty years. A Shea/Karite tree can live for as long as 300 years.
How Is It Made?
In order to harvest the nuts needed for Shea Butter production, the fruits of the shea tree are gathered and washed before the external skin and pulp is removed.The shell is then cracked and the nut removed and left to dry.
The next part of the process involves crushing the nuts in to a powdery substance using a pestle and mortar. This by itself can be a lengthy and physically demanding task that traditionally the females of a village undertake. Sometimes a press is used to crush the nuts which saves time and also produces more butter. The crushed nuts are then put into pots on wood fires and are continually stirred in order to prevent the butter from burning. Water is finally added to produce a paste. The paste is then kneaded to separate the oils. As the oil/butter rises it’s scooped off and set to one side to cool down.
This method of extraction has been used for centuries and produces the finest, unrefined, raw Shea Butter. Once the raw Shea Butter cools completely, it solidifies with a firmness like butter, with all medicinal, therapeutic and healing benefits intact. While you shouldn’t in fact worry about the slight variation in colour of raw Shea Butter, you should certainly take into consideration the Grade, as this determines the quality of raw Shea Butter you purchase.
Producing refined Shea Butter is an altogether different method outlined below. The production method normally includes the use of the toxic petroleum- based chemical Hexane to speed up the extraction process. The resulting product is uniformly white in colour unlike the creamy, yellowy beige of the raw butter. Refined Shea Butter will also have had it’s natural nutty aroma removed and will usually be fragrance free. This extraction method also removes significant amounts of the essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and it’s healing and therapeutic properties.
Why Should I Use Raw Shea Butter?
One of the more significant uses of raw Shea Butter is as an anti-ageing treatment. In an outstanding six- month clinical study performed by F. Renard as part of his doctoral thesis, 30 participants used raw Shea Butter as a daily moisturiser. Within just a few weeks, the dull complexion of most participants had disappeared, and smoother, clearer skin was revealed. The research demonstrated that raw shea butter reduces thinning and activates the development of collagen. At the study’s conclusion, evidence of skin regeneration had occurred in all participants. More than half of the volunteers studied by Renard also exhibited a noticeable reduction in wrinkles caused by sun damage.
Raw Shea Butter is particularly well regarded for both it’s moisturising and healing properties. It is also renowned for its beauty benefits especially to skin since it is naturally rich in antioxidants, nutrients and vitamins A, E & F. Vitamin A is required for the healthy maintenance and repair of skin tissue. It contains anti ageing properties proven to reduce wrinkles and also promotes the cell renewal process. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant with the ability to neutralize damaging free radicals (molecules that attack cells in our bodies damaging collagen and causing skin dryness and speeding up ageing) that cause lines, wrinkles and the signs of ageing. Vitamin E is vital for healthy skin.
The body doesn’t produce vitamin E so, it has to come from your diet.
Vitamin F works as a rejuvenator and is extremely beneficial for the skin. It is commonly referred to as essential fatty acids (EFA – omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) The body cannot produce EFA so, like vitamin E it has to be obtained from the foods you consume. Vitamin F is essential to the growth and maintenance of healthy skin and nails. When the skin has a good supply it gives a supple and youthful appearance.
Through fruits, vegetables and vitamins, the body delivers only a certain percentage of vitamins to your skin. Applying a topical treatment such as raw Shea Butter is the most effective way to gain maximum benefits.
This natural oil rich substance with it’s exceptional moisturising and healing properties offers incredible benefits to our skin and hair. Raw Shea Butter contains high levels of unsaponifiables. This is a type of fat which contains high concentrations of the healing elements of oils. These are acknowledged for giving shea butter it’s therapeutic properties. We all know how good avacado oil can be for the skin and that has between 2 to 6% unsaponifiables. Raw shea butter contains between 7 to 19%. This high degree of unsaponifiables is one of many qualities that makes raw Shea Butter so incredibly beneficial when applied to the skin. The moisturisers in raw shea butter are the same as those produced by the skin’s sebaceous glands, which are essential for the retention of moisture and elasticity.
Raw Shea Butter has wonderful natural protective and exceptional skin healing properties which take it way beyond any other moisturising product. Raw Shea Butter also contains cinnamic acid which is a natural sunscreen thus helping protect skin from harmful UV rays. It is easily absorbed into the skin without leaving it greasy or blocking pores.
Raw Shea Butter is also recognised as being a natural anti inflammatory. Luxurious and beneficial when used for massage and relief of muscular aches and pains.
Raw Shea Butter has been classified into 5 grades. A, B, C, D & F
When chemical analysis is done, the grade is determined by the presence or absence of various nutrients. Grade A is the highest and best quality for cosmetics and personal industry (American Shea Butter Institute)
Grade A: Premium (Raw, Unrefined)
Grade B: Less active nutrients than Grade A
Grade C: Refined
Grade D: Highly Refined (missing most of the valuable nutrients)
Grade F: Contaminated. Not fit for human use
Raw Shea Butter is solid at room temperature, but melts or liquefies easily at body temperature.
Shea Butter has become very popular within the cosmetics industry and many beauty products now contain Shea Butter.
Only pure, unrefined raw Shea Butter has the real healing and moisturising properties that Shea Butter is recognized for.
In summary raw Shea Butter can be used to treat and has been found to offer benefits for a wide range of conditions such as:
- Dry skin or itching caused by dryness
- Skin Rash
- Peeling Skin (e.g. after tanning)
- Shaving Rash and Razor Bumps
- Hard Skin on Feet (particularly heels)
- Small Skin Wounds or Cracks
- Stretch Marks While Pregnant
- Minor Burns
- Uneven Skin Tone
- Dry Scalp or Scalp irritation e.g. Through Perming, Relaxing or Other Chemical Processing