For many generations, African women used Shea Butter to protect and revitalize their hair and skin. This butter comes from nuts of Shea-Karite tree. These nuts contain fatty acids that give shea butter its unique healing properties especially for the skin. They are picked, cracked, grilled and milled forming a paste. The paste was boiled in water for few hours until the Shea Butter rose to the surface. Then it was scooped into gourds and left to cool. The product is called raw shea butter.
Shea butter can be refined. This is done by melting raw shea butter and washing it with water. The mixture of melted butter and water is transferred to reactor where air and steam remove the odor. The melted shea butter is combined with diatomaceous earth to remove most of the color. It is then filtered by pressing using many layers of paper and cloth. The final step is involves removing small particles and impurities by filtration. This yields shea butter which is very pale yellow to white in color with no odor. Some of the vitamins and nutrients are lost, but excellent results can still be obtained using refined shea butter.
The benefits of refined shea butter is that it is odorless compared to the raw or unrefined shea butter. This shea butter is good source of Vitamins A, E and F. Vitamins A and E help maintain the skin and keep it clear and healthy. These two vitamins are particularly helpful for sun damaged skin. They help prevent premature wrinkles and facial lines. Vitamin F acts as a skin protector and also it rejuvenates the skin. It soothes rough, dry or chapped skin. Shea Butter is high in unsaponifiables (a type of fat) which is about 7-12%. Avocado oil which is a well known skin conditioner has between 2-6%. This high level of unsaponifiables is one property of Shea Butter that makes it so valuable in treating the conditions listed above. Also, Shea Butter can easily penetrate the skin allowing the skin to breathe and without clogging pores. Shea Butter also contains high level of cinnamic acid which is a natural sun screen. So, it provides some degree of protection from the sun. Shea Butter is also anti-inflammatory which is useful in treating rheumatism.
Shea Butter moisturizes the dry or damaged hair from the roots to the very tips, repairing and protecting against brittleness, dryness and weather damage. It is also quickly absorb into the scalp to rehydrate without clogging pores. It is particularly useful for processed and heat-treated hair. It is an excellent treatment for dry scalp. It brings back luster of damaged hair.