Our botanical world is comprised of not only everything we need to survive, but brimming with wonderful extracts to enhance our health and beauty. One of these amazing trees, originating in the African desert, is the African Shea Tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) or referred to as the Karite Tree.
The African Shea Tree bears fruit, and once this fruit is dried out, the nut is crushed and separated, creating shea butter. Because the butter derived from the nut is naturally full of triglycerides (fats), it has been used as a food and cosmetic resource for millenia. In fact, the Ancient Egyptians would use shea butter on their skins and hair as a moisturizer and UV protector from the sun, as it is naturally around 6 SPF.
Shea butter extract is a complex fat that in addition to many nonsaponifiable components (substances that cannot be fully converted into soap by treatment with alkali) contains the following fatty acids:oleic acid (40-60%), stearic acid (20-50%), linoleic acid (3-11%), palmitic acid (2-9%), linolenic acid (<1%) and arachidic acid (<1%).
Shea butter melts at body temperature. Proponents of its use for skin care maintain that it absorbs rapidly into the skin, acts as a “refatting” agent, and has good water-binding properties
When looking up the botanical INCI name for shea butter, you should find the Latin taxonomy as Butyrospermum parkii, but it should be noted that the updated findings (as of 2013) is that the new classification of the African Shea Tree is Vitellaria paradoxa; however, it seems that the INCI has not yet updated their records. What to take away from this? Don’t be concerned if you’re reading labels and it says either Vitellaria paradoxa or Butyrospermum parkii, both are correctly referring to shea butter.
Shea butter is an emollient. It has vitamin A, E and is highly compatible with skin. Because of its high levels of these antioxidants, shea butter is an excellent protector against free radicals. It’s important to protect ourselves from free radicals to maintain our physical balance and chemistry. Long -term effects of free radical exposure have proven to “adversely alter lipids, proteins, and DNA and trigger a number of human diseases.” To protect ourselves from free radicals, we must include a beauty regiment rich in antioxidants such as vitamin A and E, which shea butter possesses, and it’s also important to increase our fruit and vegetable intake. Remember, true beauty always starts on the inside!
When purchasing shea butter, there are generally two options, there is raw, unrefined shea butter, which is usually yellow in color and has a distinct smell – the smell is not generally unpleasant, and many people may enjoy it, but if you’re using it, be aware of the scent. Unrefined shea butter is also less pliable than its partner, refined shea butter.
Refined shea butter has often been through a manufacturing process which mechanically cracks the seeds and eliminates the color and odor. There is a myth about the quality of unrefined shea butter being better quality compared to refined. The truth is in where you make your purchases. If you purchased refined shea butter from a reputable manufacturer, such as Essential Wholesale, there should be little to no reduction in the properties of the shea butter.
Candle Moments uses shea butter in all of our products featured in The Body Spa Collection because we understand and believe in the wonderful properties of this fabulous, vegan, natural, and cruelty-free derived emollient.