Shea butter was one of the first ingredients I fell in love with. I remember in my childhood, seeing pounds of shea butter being packed into containers for purchase. Over the years, as the popularity for this butter increased, I was surprised by the stark differences in the butter's quality. Refined shea butter was gaining in sales and often labeled as pure. Out of curiosity, I purchased from a local vendor and within hours of applying it to my skin, I felt the difference.
At Milli Miracle, shea butter is one our staple ingredients for the majority of our natural bath and body products. Shea butter is a natural moisturizer rich in fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, vitamins A and E. The numerous benefits (arthritis relief, eczema, stretch marks, dry skin and hair, insect bites, psoriasis and so forth) that has made shea butter so popular is from the use of high-quality unrefined shea butter. Grown on Shea (Karite)Trees indigenous from Senegal to Uganda, shea butter provides anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits. Check out this blog post from Wellness Mama that lists 21 benefits of shea butter.
In today's market there are many labels given to shea butter such as pure, premium, grade A, refined and unrefined. These labels can be confusing and make purchasing shea butter tedious. We will begin with raw, unrefined shea butter. In its raw state (organic), shea butter is edible, used for cooking as well as directly applied to the skin. Unrefined shea butter has a color that ranges from white, ivory to beige. The color range in raw, unrefined shea butter depends on the time of harvest. For more frequently asked questions regarding shea butter visit this source.
Refined shea butter is chemically processed to remove (deodorize) scent and color, depleting many nourishing and healing properties. For aesthetic purposes, refined shea butter is often colored to a bright yellow that resembles Kpangnan Butter(indigenous to Central Tongo). Refined shea butter is known for having soft, grainy texture due to over-heating. Cold-Pressed refers to the method of extracting shea butter with a high-pressure pressing machine. Grade A refers to commercial-grade shea butter that was naturally extracted and retains the highest level of natural properties and benefits, used for cooking and cosmetics. Other commercial grades includes, grade B- refined butters used for cosmetic purposes, not edible, grade C (highly refined), grade D (low-contamination) and grade E (contaminates).
We love the versatility of shea butter! In our Vegan Bath & Body Apothecary line, you can enjoy soaps made with unrefined shea butter and our rich whipped shea butter blends.
Safety Note: People with latex, tree nut and peanut allergies have a greater risk of being allergic to shea butter.
Have you used refined and unrefined (organic) shea butter? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below.