Shea butter: benefits and uses in natural cosmetics and health

Derived from the nuts of an emblematic tree of the West African savannahs, shea butter has been used for centuries by local populations. Its nourishing, moisturizing and protective properties make it indispensable in aromatherapy and cosmetics. Although it belongs to the large family of vegetable oils, it is solid at room temperature and melts around 35°C. Latin name : Butyrospermum parkii. Part used: Almonds

Main properties

  • hydrating: the lipidic part of the butter, constituting the vast majority of this product, allows it to easily pass the skin barrier and keep the upper layer of the epidermis moisturized, effectively and sustainably.
  • healing, softening : thanks to the resinous esters that make it up, Shea butter helps soften the skin. Indeed, by passing through the skin barrier, Shea butter will nourish the skin and soften it, to make it less sensitive to external aggressions.
  • skin protector : used in prevention or after sunbathing, Shea butter helps protect the skin against UV rays and environmental aggression. It is thanks to a variety of unsaponifiables, including karitene, that the butter allows this action.
  • anti-oxidant, cell regenerating : the vitamin E present in this butter has an important anti-oxidant role. This vitamin will provide the energy needed for metabolism to produce cells in large numbers, thus promoting healing and cell renewal.
  • anti-inflammatory : it contains a high level of unsaponifiable matter, composed mostly by triterpenic alcohols. Lupeol and beta-amyrin are known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Penetrating: shea butter is quickly absorbed by the epidermis.

Characteristics and composition

Cosmetic characteristics
  • Skin type: dry, mature, sensitive, fragile, inflamed.
  • Hair type: dry.

Organoleptic characteristics
  • Appearance: solid at 20°C and liquid at 30-35°C
  • Color: cream to light yellow
  • Odor: neutral.
  • Touch : bold.

Characteristics for the formulation
  • Unsaponifiable and active ingredients : vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin D, resinous esters.
  • Comedogenicity index : 0 (=non comedogenic)
  • Average saponification value: 180
  • Oxidation stability: excellent
  • Stability at high temperatures: good
  • INCI name: Butyrospermum Parkii Butter

Fatty acid composition
  • oleic acid (omega 9 MUFA) : 40 à 60 %
  • stearic acid (SFA): 30 à 50 %
  • linoleic acid (omega 6 PUFA) : 3 à 10 %
  • palmitic acid (SFA): 2 à 7 %
  • arachidic acid (SFA): ≤ 2 %
  • unsaponifiable matter: ≤ 6 %

Physical characteristics
  • Density at 20°C: 0.915 à 0.925
  • Flash point : 250
  • Peroxide index : 5
  • Acid number : 6.000

Botanical characteristics
  • Botanical family: Sapotaceae
  • Country of origin: Ghana.
  • Distilled part: almonds
  • Production process : first cold pressing
  • Latin name : Butyrospermum Parkii

Precautions for use

Caution! Shea Butter naturally contains latex, Warning to allergic people.

Authorized use of the product

Dermal route Oral route

Authorized users

Adults and Teens Children under 6 years old Pregnant and nursing women Babies under 3 years old


Preferably stored in a cool place, away from light and heat.

Nutritional benefits

Shea butter is generally recognized for its use in cosmetic care but did you know that it can also be consumed? Obviously, it must be consumed in its pure form and not in a refined or perfumed form... So why consume it? It is generally the African populations that consume the pulp of the fruits, very nourishing. It is a major source of fat, used in sauces or even in frying. Rich in unsaturated fatty acids, particularly oleic acid, shea butter is considered "good" fat. IFAs are widely studied and described as having abeneficial action on the cardiovascular system. In addition, Shea is rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant found mostly in raw and deodorized butter. Be careful, of course, as with any product rich in fat, its consumption must be moderate.

  • Tips for use: in seasoning or frying oil.
  • Other complementary vegetable oils: in the same way as shea butter, Macadamia oil is very rich in omega 9.

In case of Crevice, Cracking

Efficiency : ++++

Shea Butter is particularly rich in unsaturated fatty acids and its rich and creamy texture gives it very interesting properties: anti-inflammatory, soothing, softening, protective... Shea Butter is also rich in vitamins, A, D and E, they help nourish the skin and accelerate healing. Shea Butter is a widely recommended natural solution for maintaining deep skin hydration.

  • Application advice : massage a dab of butter on the affected area, morning and evening.
  • Complementary essential oil(s): to promote beautiful healing, you can add a few drops of Cistus, Rosemary Geranium or Aspic Lavender essential oil to your Shea butter to increase its effectiveness.
  • Other Suitable Plant Oils: Other plant oils can also be used to regenerate cells such as Raspberry Seed or Mushroom Rose Oil.

In case of Cellulite, Stretch marks

Efficiency : +++

The skin can be abused at certain times of life. Shea butter helps to restore elasticity and firmness to the skin. It can be used preventively to allow the skin to be nourished. Its application in massage allows activating microcirculation and thus fighting against dimpling.

  • Application advice : massage a dab of butter on the affected area, morning and evening.
  • Complementary essential oil(s): to fight against cellulite, the essential oil of Cedar of the Atlas will be very interesting because lipolytic, just like that of Lemon or even Seaside Kriste. Against stretch marks, the Rosat Geranium may be very interesting.
  • Other Suitable Plant Oils: other plant oils can also be used such as Meadowsweet, Hempwood, Baobab or Mushroom Rose oil.

In case of Dermatosis

Efficiency : +++

Shea Butter's rich composition of polyunsaturated fatty acids give it anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. Its creamy texture is ideal in case of dermatoses. Studies prove the effect of a combination of Shea Butter and Argan oil on atopic dermatitis. Moreover, this effect appears to be similar to the effect of a cream based on cortisone. And the Shea Butter has the advantage of being able to be used on the long term without risk of undesirable effects.

  • Application advice : massage a dab of butter on the affected area, morning and evening.
  • Complementary essential oil(s): to fight inflammation, Roman Chamomile can be very interesting, also think about Lavender to soothe pain at the skin level or Rosemary Geranium or Palmarosa to soothe the skin.
  • Other Suitable Plant Oils: other plant oils can also be used such as Perilla, Lempberry or Sweet Almond.

In case of skin itching, dry skin, sensitive skin

Efficiency : +++

The Shea Butter is particularly adapted to dry, sensitive or weakened skins. Its unctuous texture makes it a nourishing butter to be used for both the face and the body.

  • Application advice : massage a dab of butter on the affected area, morning and evening.
  • Other suitable plant oils: to soothe dry, fragile skin, consider Wheat Germ, Sesame, Baobab or even Camelia.

In case of dry hair

Efficiency : +++

Just as it is used to nourish and protect the skin, it will be very useful for damaged, dry hair and irritated and sensitive scalps.

  • Application advice : apply as a mask to the lengths and ends of the hair for 1 hour before shampooing. To realize in a weekly way.
  • Other suitable plant oils: it is possible to combine Shea butter with other plant oils such as Argan, Jojoba or even Ricin.

In case of diaper rash

Effectiveness: ++.

Shea Butter is ideal for soothing baby skin. Thanks to its rich composition of fatty acids and vitamins, Shea Butter helps soothe redness and irritation. In addition to its anti-inflammatory capabilities, Shea will have a protective barrier action between baby's skin and the diaper for example, responsible for its irritation.

  • Application advice : massage a dab of butter on the affected area, morning and evening.
  • Complementary essential oil(s): to complement the shea butter treatment, True Lavender and Tea Tree essential oils can be helpful in preventing infection, pain and inflammation of the skin.
  • Other Suitable Plant Oils: Other plant oils can also be used like Sweet Almond. And also, White Clay can be applied as a powder directly to irritated areas.

In case of sunburn

Effectiveness: ++.

The sun can attack skin and hair. Shea Butter helps to protect the latter from the sun but also to soothe the skin in case of sunburn. It can therefore act both preventively and curatively. Rich in karitene and vitamins, Shea Butter helps to absorb some of the UV rays, but be careful to use a sunscreen, Shea Butter will only reinforce its action. Also, moisturizing your skin after a sunburn will help prolong your tan.

  • Application advice : massage a dab of butter on the affected area, morning and evening.
  • Complementary essential oil(s): against sunburn, it is the Aspic Lavender that is the most appropriate to soothe the skin and gradually make the burn disappear.
  • Other Suitable Plant Oils: The Calendula oily macerate can be used for sunburn to soothe the skin as can the Raspberry Seed oil.

Raw, Deodorized, Refined Shea Butter, what are the differences?

The differences between raw, deodorized and highly refined shea butter lie in how the shea butter is extracted from the nut and how it is then processed.

  • The Raw

To obtain raw shea butter, there are two methods: the traditional manual method and the extraction by cold pressure.

Manual extraction processes leave more raw ingredients in the shea butter. This traditional "churning" method involves harvesting the shea fruit as it ripens, then removing the pulp to obtain the nut. Inside the nut is the kernel, which is then removed, washed and dried. When it is dry, the kernel is crushed, twisted and churned in water. The mixture is then heated in a pot of boiling water to separate the butter from the other components of the almond and impurities. After filtration, we obtain raw artisanal shea butter. This method slightly alters the qualities of the butter because the mixture is heated.

The cold press extraction method consists of grinding the shea kernels in a press at a temperature below 80°C. This method does not allow to extract the totality of the butter but it is the method which allows to obtain the best quality: the butter not being torrefied, the active principles are 100 % preserved! Because of their high concentration of free fatty acids, raw butters are more sensitive to oxidation than butters that have been treated.

  • The Deodorized

In order to be deodorized, the raw shea butter undergoes a steam treatment under vacuum. The odorous substances being volatile, the technique consists in injecting steam under pressure into the previously melted shea butter: the water traps the odorous substances then the oily phase of the mixture, corresponding to the deodorized shea butter, is recovered. This technique makes it possible to eliminate certain free fatty acids while preserving the active ingredients of the unsaponifiables. The main interest of steam training is to obtain an odorless shea butter, but it turns out that this technique also increases the conservation and stability of the butter.

  • The Refined

It is obtained through a solvent extraction. This technique consists of mixing the almonds with a solvent (often hexane) in order to dissolve the fats. The mixture obtained is then heated between 50 and 60°C for several hours to allow the solvent to evaporate. 3 successive stages are carried out: a neutralization of the fatty acids likely to oxidize, a deodorization, then a decoloration. The refining of Shea butter requires an astronomical quantity of almonds of more or less good quality since the butter obtained will no longer have all its active principles.

Did you know? In English, the term "refined", which means refined, does not differentiate deodorized butters from refined butters. So be wary of the way the butter is obtained, and of the manufacturer's claims!

Deodorized Shea Butter Organic vegetable butter

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