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6 Facts that you need to know about Shea butter!

The explosion of natural butter and oils that seem to have taken over stores whether they are health stores or supermarkets is undeniable.

Coconut oil, Argan oil, Almond oil and Shea butter are among some of the most popular natural oils.

You may have heard of Shea butter, but

1. What is it?

2. Where does it come from?

3. Composition of Shea butter.

4. Raw or Unrefined Shea butter vs Refined Shea butter

5. What are the benefits of using it with your skin and hair

6. How can you source a good supply of premium graded  Shea butter?


shea butter



1. What is Shea Butter?

Shea butter is the fat that is inside the kernel of a Shea nut. It is extracted manually by a process that involves crushing, roasting, grinding, you add water to it and stir or cook it and then leave it to solidify.

2. Where does it come from?

. Shea nut grows on the villeteria paradoxa tree which is found in some countries in the African Savannah. It takes 20 years for the villeteria paradoxa tree to bear fruit and can ‘live’ for about 200 years.

The community land that the tree grows on means that anyone is free to pick shea nuts and process them, this has been a valuable source of income for Shea nut processors.

These Shea nut pickers like many rural or farmworkers are not necessarily well paid. However, their income stream improves and is more consistent when they join or form a cooperative. This means that they can have storage for Shea nuts and saving schemes so out of season they can have funds to pay living expenses and school fees.

In its native countries, Shea butter had many uses. It was used as an oil for cooking. Shea butter was also used as an aid for arthritis or backaches. It was used a lot for skincare. Some tribes in Nigeria also melt Shea butter on a spoon, let it cool down and swallow it to treat coughs!.

 how to make shea butter


3. Composition of Shea butter.

We have already established that Shea butter is extracted from a Shea nut. The properties of Shea butter makes it quite interesting and unique. It is a triglyceride (fat)

the 4 main fatty acid in Shea butter is

a) Stearic acid,

b) oleic acid,

c) linoleic acid

d), palmitic acid.

Stearic acid is what gives it its solid and waxy composition. The oleic acid contributes to the high moisturising, hydrating and absorbent qualities that Shea butter has. This Oleic oil in Shea butter is 5 times the amount in Coconut oil as an example which helps you to see why you may find coconut oil less moisturising.

If we broke it down into vitamins it contains vitamin A, which is retinol, so it has anti-ageing benefits naturally. Vitamin F means it has anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamine helps to even out skin tone.


4. Difference between Unrefined or Refined Shea butter

Unrefined Shea butter can be ivory beige, pale yellow and slightly green! It has a slightly nutty odour. In Nigeria, there is a saying that Shea butter cannot expire! However, if the Shea butter you are buying has a strong scent, that means it has gone rancid and has expired! The challenge with Shea butter in the West is that during winter Shea butter gets so cold that it goes solid and has white chalky spots in it.

Some people stop using it because of that, others tell me that they put the Shea butter in the microwave to get in a soft consistency to apply it. This is bound to hurt the minerals in Shea butter The Best way is to keep your Shea butter warm so keep it in a warm room near a radiator in those colder months.

During the Summer months, if your Shea butter melts and solidifies it may alter the consistency and become grainy, the grains do melt quickly on contact.


Refined Shea butter

Refined, Shea butter is white in colour and odourless. The process of removing the compounds means it does not have as many of the additional benefits that the Unrefined Shea butter has to offer but it is still a very good moisturiser.

In its refined state, there are fewer challenges for cosmetic makers when using Shea butter as an ingredient.

What we put on our skin can get into our blood system. So for this fact alone it is good to seek out a natural product.

 monshea shea oil on face

5. Shea butter benefits your skin and hair


Due to the anti-ageing properties, the ability to fade skin cars gradually the anti-inflammatory properties in Shea butter and the high oleic oil that gives it supreme moisturising abilities Shea butter is good for all skin types but especially beneficial for dry skin conditions including eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis. You will note how Shea butter immediately softens your skin and provides a protective barrier.


Shea butter is non-comedogenic so it will not block your pores. But if you have oily skin or acne-prone skin I would advise you to use a natural oil that has a high linoleic content like Argan oil. You can use s

Shea butter afterwards to help fade any acne scars. The sooner you use it the quicker you will see the results.

To benefit the most Shea butter should be applied to the skin when it is still a bit damp. Not when it is completely dry.

If you find Shea butter too rich, it may cause a breakout in a small number of cases. You may want to try Pure Shea oil is a by-product of Shea butter that has had some of the stearic fatty acids that makes Shea butter solid removed. It is a very moisturising similar consistency to coconut oil but more hydrating.

Shea butter does have SPF protection of 6. Some people have also said that Shea butter makes their skin darker. If this is not your desire, a product like Monshea™ Shea oil with ylang-ylang will prevent this or you can opt for another oil like Coconut oil.


Pure Shea butter can be used on babies. It provides a natural alternative for baby skincare


Monshea shea oil for hair

Shea butter for hair.


Our hairstyles, styling habits i.e. use of colour, weave, extensions the environment and even hard water has taken a negative impact on our hair.

It may have lost its sheen, frizzy, dry or even shedding due to lack of elasticity. Due to Shea butter moisturising, and softening abilities the prevalence of Shea butter in products and the hair care advice given on it,  adding Shea butter to your hair care regime seems essential.

A word of caution however is that Shea butter is an oil and not a conditioner. A conditioner needs to have some water content in it. When you use Shea butter as a leave-in conditioner, for example, it can leave your hair feeling quite dry maybe a day or so afterwards.

To overcome this dilemma, use Shea butter as part of your conditioning process and add Shea butter with your conditioner as part of a deep conditioning process. Using this method, the Shea butter now acts as a sealant locking the moisture. It also acts as a detangler for those blessed with thick hair.

In between washes you can make your leave-in conditioner with Shea butter and water as an ingredient. Or you can use Shea oil that absorbs better in the hair or any other of your favourite oils including a hair oil product.

Shea butter has personally helped to thicken my hair. I make my hair oil product with Shea oil, Argan oil and glycerine which helps to keep my hair hydrated.

Another favourite recipe is Shea butter/Shea oil coconut oil and castor oil to help promote hair growth.

Liquid Shea butter / Shea oil is also a good product to use to keep a dry scalp hydrated without matting hair that may be the case if you are sporting plaits, extensions or loss.

6. How can you source a good supply of Premium grade Shea butter.

As mentioned earlier Shea butter is prevalent. To identify a good source of Shea butter it should be graded as premium-grade A. If it is organic and unrefined Shea butter is (no certification is required under the law) then that is good. If your supplier supports a woman cooperative or community enterprise that actively has schemes to improve the lot of Shea pickers and processors you are on the right track.

I belong to the Global Shea alliance which aims to harvest Shea nuts sustainably and supports Shea pickers with advice and practical support.


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