Shea Butter – Healing and Moisturizing Miracle

100% Pure Shea Butter

100% Pure Shea Butter

Shea butter is winning over home gardeners with its benefits, as well as people who are looking for a naturally based, unrefined and unprocessed skin care product that has powerful abilities as a superb moisturizer with exceptional healing properties for the skin. The best Shea butter originates from nuts that are gathered, extracted and prepared without the use of chemicals from the Shea or Karite tree that grows wild in the African savannah.
Shea butter contains important nutrients such as vitamins A and E, and other valuable phytonutrients required for healing. Regular use of this natural cream can treat many skin problems and maintain a healthy, vibrant skin condition.

Shea nuts in the shell

Shea nuts in the shell

The highest quality Shea butter is prepared by hand in small villages across western Africa. It is very labor intensive – estimated to take 20 to 30 hours to produce one kilogram of handcrafted Shea butter. The nuts are picked from the Shea trees, then cracked, lightly roasted, and ground to a powder. This powder is then whipped and kneaded in water until a color change occurs, anywhere from one to three hours of continual kneading. Warm water is then added when white spots begin to appear, separating the Shea oils which rise to the surface of the kettle.

Raw Shea Nut

Raw Shea Nut

The oil is collected and slightly heated to remove any remaining water, then filtered into settling basins. The total time from selecting the nuts until the Shea oils are collected is anywhere from 10 to 14 hours of continuous work. After it cools and solidifies into a butter-like consistency it is stirred very carefully to initialize the crystallization process. This part of the process is very critical and requires a lot of experience. The final Shea butter is then packaged and shipped, providing us with a pure, high quality, and natural product.

100% PureShea Butter packed in gourds for shipping

100% PureShea Butter packed in gourds for shipping

Only pure, unrefined Shea butter has all of the healing and moisturizing properties. Most Shea butter available to the general public outside West Africa is white and odorless, as it has been chemically “refined” to remove the natural scent and color of natural Shea butter. Most Westerners think the color white indicates purity, but not in this case.

During the chemical refining process, the majority of the effective healing agents are removed. Most refined Shea butter is extracted from the Shea kernels with hexane or other petroleum solvents which are carcinogenic. The extracted oil is boiled to drive off the toxic solvents then refined, bleached, and deodorized, which heats it to over 400F and uses of harsh chemicals, such as sodium hydroxide. Shea butter extracted in this manner still contains some undesirable solvent residues, and its healing values are almost non-existent.

Shea Nut to Shea Butter

Shea Nut to Shea Butter

High grade Shea butter will have a distinctive aroma that is identifiable but not unpleasant. Once melted into the skin, the aroma should subdue within a few minutes. Due to its wildcrafted origins, it will be shades of light to medium creamy yellow. This color is an indication of the vitamin A content. Consistency should be smooth and creamy and might have a slight crystalline structure, but should never feel granular or gritty.

Pure Shea butter starts melting at 75°F and should easily melt into the palm of your hand. Pure white or deep yellow Shea butter has been chemically refined or diluted with palm kernel oil and has lost its ability for healing. Strong, unpleasant odors or those that last more than a few minutes after melting into the skin indicate old or rancid butter. 100% pure unrefined Shea butter is not easily found on store shelves, expect to buy it from a specialty supplier or small company that has a relationship with the producer that constantly monitors and maintains quality standards.

Applying Shea Butter

Applying Shea Butter

Uses for Shea butter are many, from a simple daily hand, face and foot cream to keep the skin hydrated and healthy, as a scalp and hair moisturizing tonic, as an aftershave emollient that soothes and relieves the skin, as a luxurious healing bath experience when a spoonful is added to hot bathwater to a highly beneficial massage for tired and overtaxed muscles, especially when a small amount of essential oils are added.

Many of our customers report using Shea butter after surgeries to help the incisions heal much faster than any other method. Family doctors and surgeons are always surprised at how quickly and completely the healing takes place. Cuts, abrasions and other wounds heal faster with Shea butter, as the vitamins and phytonutrients are absorbed into the subcutaneous portion of the skin and help the healing process along. Wounds heal from the inside out, and nothing else is absorbed as deeply as Shea butter.

Shea butter is best warmed up and worked into the skin or hands. Get a small amount on the tip of your finger (less than you think you’ll need), and warm it up in the palm of your hand. You might need to rub it between your palms if your hands are cold. As it starts to melt with your body temperature it is ready to work into your skin.

Spend a couple of moments and don’t rush this, as one application can last all day (or night) if properly used. Massage it into where you need it. It will dissipate quickly, leaving a light film on the surface of the skin. Continue to massage this in for a few more moments, until the lubricating effects start to diminish. You will have a slight sheen on the skin that will dissapate as the Shea butter finishes absorbing into your skin. At the end of the day you will notice that your skin is softer, more pliable and feels better, even after just one use.

7 Responses to Shea Butter – Healing and Moisturizing Miracle

  1. Jeff Alexander January 19, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    Just got your original shea butter. Love the woodsy, cedar/ginseng like natural scent.

    • Stephen January 21, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

      Thanks Jeff! Please let us know how it works for you.

  2. Kristi Foutz October 1, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    This Shea butter is awesome. I keep it on hand at all times. I use it mainly for post tattoo healing and its the best at that! I live in the Mohave desert and have had the jar liquify before. You mentioned melting can reduce the healing abilities of the Shea butter, could you expand on that? I didn’t notice any difference in performance but once, after it re solidified there were granules in it that were way more difficult to melt.

    • Stephen October 1, 2014 at 9:57 am #

      Thanks Kristi! We’ve never heard of using it for healing tattoos, but it just makes sense. The Shea butter will start melting at 76°F, much like Coconut oil/butter. If it gets over about 95 – 100°F, it will usually re-solidify, but might have granules or small chunks and if it is over 105°F for any extended time, it might not re-solidify at all. We had this happen to us when we shipped a jar to a customer in Houston in July and it sat in her mailbox for a day.

      The healing properties are damaged by increasing temperatures. That’s why commercial Shea butters are only moisturizers and not healing creams. Their chemical and heat processing to make it “white” kills the healing properties. For hotter climates or offices, keep it in a fridge if you have one or the coolest part of the room. If you are in the room and are comfortable or able to work, then the temperatures are probably all right for the Shea butter.

  3. Betsy October 27, 2014 at 6:24 am #

    Just read your article. I would like to try the Shea butter but need info about the processing. You note that it is “prepared by hand in small villages across western Africa.” You do not say if these people are paid a fair wage for this intensive work or how this “industry” affects their daily lives and communities. Please advise, Thx.

    • Stephen November 4, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

      You raise very good questions Betsy! The gentleman who supplies us works directly with these small villages to avoid middlemen who take a very large cut of the profits. He is able to pay the women who produce the Shea butter sometimes twice what they sell it to collectives for, while keeping the final costs down as he is the only link in the supply chain from producer to merchant. Only women produce the Shea butter, as they have for centuries, and they are sometimes the only source of monetary income for their villages. He visits Africa at least twice a year, sometimes three times and visits the villages that send him the Shea butter. He helps to educate them as to how to keep the quality high and not get greedy by adding rocks to the bottom of the gourds to increase the weight. He has built up a network of 20 – 30 small villages that continually produce to his high standards and is on the lookout for new producers that he can help.

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  1. October 2013 Newsletter | Underwood Gardens - October 8, 2013

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