Friday, January 30, 2009

Ingredient Article #5 - Shea Butter

Shea butter, sometimes called shea nut butter, is a common natural fat used in soap, lotion and cosmetic formulations.

Shea butter is derived from the fruit (kernel, nut, seed) of the shea tree, strictly from West Africa. The harvest process is a female activity, and is very beneficial to the West African economy. A 20 year old shea tree begins to produce the shea nut. Shea trees, interesting enough, do not reach full production until they are 45 years old!

The fruit of the shea tree contains 50% fat, yellowish or ivory shea butter, which is obtained through a crushing and boiling process.

One surprising fact about shea butter is that it is also used for cooking in West Africa. Some use shea butter as a substitute for cocoa butter in chocolate.

Shea butter contains antioxidant properties, such as vitamin A and E. It is a moisturizer and emollient. Shea butter is used to treat scars, eczema, burns, rashes, blemishes, dry skin, itching, skin allergies, and wrinkles.

Speaking of allergies, there is debate regarding allergic reactions to shea butter. Even though shea butter is derived from the nut of the shea tree, many say that the nut does not fall into the "normal" category of nut allergy families. If you have an allergy to nuts, I would advise talking to your allergist prior to using a product that contains shea butter.

Did you know that shea butter, when applied directly to the skin, can provide a light ultraviolet protection, sometimes as high as SPF6? Do not count on it as an ultimate natural sun protection product, as the SPF value does vary.

As promised, I will be following up with an ingredient article on palm oil. It is taking a bit more research, but it is on the way.

13 comments:

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

Mary, I sure appreciate these soap tutorials. Thank you.

Amy said...

We used shea butter in some of our soaps and lotion I think!

Shiloh Prairie Farm said...

Good information! I love Shea butter! I use it in my soaps and I have even cut a tiny piece off the chunk of shea I use for soaping and used it straight on my skin. This winter I had the worst chapped lips, no chapstick I used helped. A tiny bit of shea did though. Lovely stuff!

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

I enjoyed the information on Shea Butter. Thanks!

Note: I'm having to start over on posting my comment. The Visual verification block is "x"-ed out again.

Ah... there it is!

Mary @ Annie's Goat Hill said...

Thank you, Joanna. I enjoy writing them.

I need to try that, Jennifer.

Pat, glad you were able to post. I am having a bit better time with posting tonight. :)

Alix said...

Who knew shea butter could be so interesting. Thanks for the lesson Mary.

Mary @ Annie's Goat Hill said...

Alix, I know! Take these common ingredients and begin to read about them, and find that everything really does have a unique story behind it.

The Cotton Wife said...

I love using shea butter. What a great post! Thanks!

KathyB. said...

I really had no idea how shea butter was made and this was very interesting. I do know people with nut allergies and this is something I will keep in mind.Thank-you!

charlotte said...

annie, thanks for sstopping by and visiting, so in turn i visited you and was intrigued by your soap making and your whole farm experience. my cousin got married between christmas and new year and for their center piece they had a apothacary jar of a variety of homeade soups for folks to take home. since we were a larger family we got to take most of the soap...i love it. coffee soap for the kitchen, rose peral soap, goat milk soap and a vanilla one.
i started to wonder if that is something i would enjoy do just for fun and pick up a little hobbie, however i am a little reluctant since it seems like a bit of a risk, what if i do it wrong...whatever, excuses excuses. i was given a HUGE bar of soap to use for laundry when i was washing diapers. i never have seen such a huge thing and that was given to us about 25 years ago and i still use it!....i mean it was huge!
i will stop by again sometime.

Mary @ Annie's Goat Hill said...

Thank you for stopping by! The table decorations, apothacary jars filled with hand crafted soaps, sound wonderful!

Judy said...

I always wondered about shea butter...now I know. Great stuff. Thanks for your visit.

Hidden Brook Farm said...

Love the shea butter! Had two ugly scars on top of one hand from the oven broiler. One was indented fairly deep, and the other had keloid higher than the surrounding skin. Both quite noticeable.

Once I started making creams & lotion with shea these scars have all but dissappeared.