The Benefits Of African Shea Butter
The benefits of African Shea Butter (Vitellaria paradoxa) are many and it’s uses are as well. Derived from kernel of the “Karite” tree (tree of life), Shea Butter is a common ingredient of natural skin care products sold at drug stores and high-end spas worldwide. Pure Shea Butter is frequently used to help aid in healing many common skin ailments and conditions such as skin cracks, skin rashes, dry skin, stretch marks, frost bites, eczema, dermatitis, and insect bites among a multitude of other uses that will be listed down in more details below.
Aside from the very many medicinal uses that African Shea Butter has, it is also widely used in a variety of cosmetic, and topical beauty products on the market and is now regarded as the safest natural skin care ingredient that provides effective therapeutic results. Natural skin care is one way of caring for the skin that makes use of natural ingredients like herbs, roots, and natural fats such as Pure Shea Butter.
These ingredients are combined with carrier agents such as emulsifiers and organic preservatives. This type of skin care has become popular as these ingredients are proven to have anti-inflammatory and healing properties.
Yes, Shea Butter has been increasing in popularity year after year, and usage in a wide variety of products since it began to be marketed throughout the world, and it has had a very good reason for doing so since its consistency, and ability to blend with other ingredients works very well.
But first, in order to truly understand the benefits of African Shea Butter, and why we see it as such an important tool for our health, and the beauty industry, it’s important to know what it actually is, where it comes from, and how it’s made, or obtained from mother nature.
Where Does African Shea Butter Come From?
African Shea butter, as you might guess, comes from Africa! More specifically, the tree grows naturally in the savannah belt of West Africa. It thrives in a drier climate, and chiefly grows among 19 different countries. These countries are (in alphabetical order) Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Guinea.
All of these countries have developed uses for, and harvesting techniques for the wonderful Shea butter, and it's many beneficial properties.
What Is African Shea Butter, And How Is It Made?
African Shea Butter is essentially the white, or ivory colored fat that is taken from the nut of the Shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa). The fat derived from the nut is a triglyceride that is mainly in the form of stearic acid, and oleic acid.
It has long been used in the cosmetic industry in lotions, moisturizers, ointments, and creams, and has recently become popular with DIY (do it yourself) lotion, soap, lip gloss, and cream makers. In addition to topical use, Shea butter is edible and is commonly used in food preparations throughout Africa.
African Shea butter is made, prepared, or processed in a traditional way that varies slightly from region to region, but follows these same basic steps:
• After harvesting the nuts from the Shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) the nuts are cracked, and the outer part, or pulp is removed from the inside fruit (fat). In many parts of Africa, this first step is a social activity done by the elderly, and women.
• After separation from the outer nut, the fruit (fat) needs to be crushed. This is a necessary step to turn the Shea fruit, into a more butter like substance/texture. This is accomplished by using a mortar and pestle.
• When finished with the crushing stage, the nuts are ready to be roasted. The crushed nuts are roasted in very large pots over an open fire, and stirred non-stop to keep the butter from burning.
• Moving from the roasting pot, the Shea butter is put into smaller buckets, and mixed by hand until the solutions becomes creamier. Water is also added at this stage as needed.
• Once the mixture has become like a paste it is kneaded, just like bread, in order to separate the oils. The oils resemble curds, and float to the top with excess water. The oils (in the curd like state) are then removed to be melted down into the final form of Shea butter as we know it.
• Once the final solution is fully melted down, the Shea butter is placed into molds, or balls to dry.