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Shea Butter is a fat that is extracted from the African Shea tree. It is usually off-white or ivory in color and is widely used in cosmetics. Raw Shea butter is also edible and used widely for food preparation, especially in Africa. Additionally, it is used in the confectionery industry, where it is mixed with other oils and used to flavor chocolate. At times it is used as a substitute for cocoa butter, although the tastes are noticeably different.
The need for Shea butter dates back to the ancient times. In Ancient Egypt for instance, wood from the Shea tree was used to carve out funeral beds for the early kings. Caravans traversing the regions are said to have carried with them jars of valuable Shea butter. The commodity was a precious skin and hair care product, believed to have healing properties as well. It was used to protect the hair and the skin against the adverse effects of the fierce sun and the hot desert winds.
Raw Shea butter is extracted through a grueling physical procedure. The process begins with the cracking of the dry nut to remove the outer shell. The remaining parts of the nuts are crushed to prepare them for roasting. Traditionally, this process was undertaken using pestle and mortal. The crushed nuts are then roasted over open fires. The pots are continuously stirred with wooden paddles to prevent the butter from burning. The Shea butter often gets its slight smoky smell from this process that often involves open wood fires.
The roasted nuts are ground while gradually adding water, to achieve a smoother paste. The resulting paste is mixed and kneaded by hand, as more water is gradually added to help in separating the butter oils. The butter oils, usually in a curd state float on top, whereby they are easily removed, and the excess water squeezed out. This action is followed up by a period of slow boiling in large open pots, to evaporate the remaining water. The raw Shea butter is then collected and formed into balls, ready for sale.
Shea butter has numerous uses, especially in the cosmetic industry. It has various characteristics that make it a one of a kind product. It is full of all-natural vitamin A, making it one of the best available natural treatments for dry and sensitive skin. It is filled with protective antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients that help rejuvenate the skin while restoring healthy suppleness and softness. It has high amounts of saturated fatty acids compared to other plant-sourced lipids. Shea butter, when used as a beauty product, has numerous advantages.
The safety of raw Shea butter, both as a cosmetic material is proven. Here is an article on a study on raw Shea butter – the skin tolerance of shea fat in topical preparations. Shea butter products can safely be used as leave-on products without the risk of injury and adverse effects.
Among the characteristics making Shea butter a choice ingredient in most products includes its ability to reduce inflammation. This coupled with its numerous cinnamate esters which are known anti-tumor promoting compounds add to its popularity. Shea butter has many benefits including;
Most skincare products in the market today contain numerous synthetic ingredients to help them achieve the ideal expectations of good skincare products. However, Shea butter has these qualities. It is a great skin moisturizer that provides the skin with the much-needed hydration while keeping it smooth and supple. The fact that it is natural makes it very much sought after.
Nothing sells faster than any anti-aging cosmetic. It gains, even more, popularity and demand if it is a natural product. Well, most cosmetic companies are adding raw Shea butter to their formulas for its natural anti-aging properties. It contains compounds that help in cell regeneration and softening of the skin, thus reduces wrinkles, resulting in a younger rejuvenated look. It has been proven to prevent photo-aging besides boosting collagen production which strengthens the skin and gives a youthful look.
Besides moisturizing, it is also good at sealing in the already existing moisture. This attribute makes it a vital ingredient for hair and scalp conditioning products. Shea butter products conditions as well as alleviates dandruff from the scalp, providing overall protection against harsh conditions. For use on the hair, Shea butter should be warmed slightly to soften it, enabling it to spread easily and evenly on the hair and scalp.
Shea butter is a much healthier choice for protecting the skin against the sun. Unlike most commercial sunscreen products that are filled with skin-penetrating compounds, Shea butter forms a natural barrier on the skin. Additionally, its moisturizing abilities prevent windburn while healing cracked skin, especially on the hands, heels, elbows and knees.
If you are looking for a great scar and stretch marks reducing compound, then Shea butter is the real deal. It’s amazingly hydrating, and healing properties diminish the appearance of stretch marks, scars, and even cellulite, simply by smoothing and softening the skin.
Every mother wants healthy skin for their baby. One of the ways to achieve this is by making the baby comfortable in their clothing. While there are numerous products available, finding the right body butter for baby is a daunting task. Shea butter is filled with anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties that allow it to fight off yeast and protect the baby from diaper rash. Raw Shea butter improves blood circulation and promotes cell regeneration, keeping baby healthy and comfortable.
Shea butter can be used plain or as a cocktail with other ingredients and fragrances. It is easy to use, and it mixes well with other products. Besides promoting a healthy skin, it is a natural product that is biodegradable as well as eco-friendly.