Shea Butter Deep Dive

If you’re not already using Shea Butter in your beauty routine, I’m sure you’ve at least heard about it and maybe even wondered what makes it the holy grail of moisturizers. I’m hoping to answer all of your burning questions today and help you navigate how you can work it into your daily regime!

Let’s start with where it comes from:

The treasured Shea tree is mainly found in the Savannah belt of West Africa, spanning over 19 countries from Guinea to South Sudan. I say “treasured” because any destruction of these prosperous trees is strictly forbidden in most of Africa due to their economic and health benefits.

In fact, it’s often referred to as “women’s gold” since the Shea Butter Trade Industry provides employment and income to millions of women in Africa. So not only does using a quality Shea Butter help your skin, but it’s also helping women support themselves and their families. What could be better than that? 

So how do these hard-working women produce Shea Butter?

With a lot of patience and skill! The fruit of the shea tree (also referred to as karite´ fruit) is harvested in May and June when they become ripe. Before the manufacturing process can begin, the nuts must be fully dried and de-shelled by hand before being washed and dried in the sun. Traditionally done by a mortar and pestle, most women use a grinding machine these days to break the nuts into tiny pieces. They’re then fire-roasted and taken back to the grinder to create a paste. 

Are you still following? I wasn’t kidding when I said these women have patience! The paste is then churned by hand with water until the butter oil separates and is dropped into boiling water over low heat. Whatever floats to the top is scraped off and strained of impurities. There you have it folks: easy peasy, right?

Note, this is the process for Unrefined, raw Shea Butter. Refined takes a few more steps to remove the color and odor before shipping out. 

Wait, so what are the benefits to this alleged “women’s gold”?

I’m so glad you asked! The benefits are endless and have been appreciated since as far back as Cleopatra’s heyday. Some of its early traditional uses were for antibacterial purposes, such as lathering a newborn baby from head to toe to protect its fragile skin and prevent infection*. It was also rubbed on joints for anti-inflammatory purposes and is still used in some massage oils today for the same purpose. Due to its natural SPF of 6, natives of Ancient Egypt used it to protect their skin from the earth’s elements. And no, that’s not a high enough SPF for you! Please use a sunscreen.

These days, most people love it for the moisturizing and skin-smoothing benefits. It’s loaded with vitamins A, E, and F and made up of fatty acids that are both moisturizing and non-comedogenic. 

What will I find Shea Butter in at Erin’s Faces?

So many products! Obviously, our Shea Butter Body Balm in both Unscented and Lavender. It’s currently in our Mineral SPF 32Extreme Moisture Balm, and all of our Mineral Lip Glosses. We’re big fans! You can coat yourself in the Body Balm if you’re experiencing dry elbows, hands, legs, or just love an extra layer of softness! It’s also wonderful for combating stretch marks* for mamas-to-be!

Wait, tell me some Fun Facts about Shea Butter before you go!

Sure thing! Here are some interesting bits I’ve found:

  • In Africa, the bark of shea trees are used for lumber because they are termite and brush-fire resistant and the blossoms from the tree are used for medicine
  • Shea trees take 40-50 years to reach their full production of fruit. (about 90 pounds of fruit!)
  • Along with extreme moisturizing, people who routinely use Shea Butter report benefits such as clearing blemishes, itching, sunburns, eczema, skin allergies, and wrinkles, and has also been used for frostbite*
  • In its unrefined form, Shea Butter is edible and often used by Chocolatiers in place of Cocoa Butter

I could go on and on about Shea Butter with all of the information there is out there on the subject, but I digress because I need to go lather some onto my dry feet now. Get yours HERE!

Written by Katelyn Skarzynski

 

*Disclaimer: For informational and educational purposes only.  These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  If you or your baby have a health concern, a medical condition, or you are pregnant or breastfeeding or are taking any medication please consult your healthcare provider.


1 comment


  • Kim

    Very informative!


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