Shea Butter (Karite)

From out of Africa comes karite butter. More popularly known in the West as shea butter, this yellow-white to ivory-colored paste has been used by African healers for thousands of years to alleviate maladies of the skin and scalp. This is one substance prospective soapmakers and cosmetic formulators will want to be aware of.

Shea Butter comes from the African shea tree found along the West African Savannah region. It is a wild growing tree that produces tiny, almond-like fruit from which shea butter is extracted. The tree itself is not cultivated and takes 40 to 50 years to mature. In most parts of West Africa, destruction of the shea tree is forbidden due to its economic, health and social benefits. (Shea butter is a valuable source of food in Africa.) Indeed, many herbalists in Africa regard shea butter as an invaluable agent for internal and external body purification.

Traditional uses of shea butter include: treatments for dry skin, blemishes, skin discoloration, scars and wrinkles, a relaxer for stiff muscles, as an aid for pain from swelling and arthritis, even as a sun screen.

What makes shea butter so great for the skin is its high content of non-saponifiable fatty acids (comprised mostly of stearic and oleic acids.) These fatty acids are indispensable for moisturizing and retaining the elasticity of the skin. By making up for lipid (fat) deficiency in the epidermal cells, shea butter provides the skin with all the essential elements it needs for its good balance. Shea butter contains up to 11% of unsaponifiables, making it a superior superfatting material for soapmaking. Smooth on face, hands, and body, the gentle qualities of shea butter are used by the cosmetics and soap industries in such products as shampoos, creams, and balsam for the hair, and soaps and other cleaning products for the skin.

Shea butter is used in shampoos and lotions because of its outstanding rapport with the body; it is superior to both cocoa butter and jojoba butter in the treatment of damaged hair. It is an amazing skin-soothing agent for makers of soap, particularly when blended with lather-generating coconut oil. It’s a fine product by itself, too: clinical observations suggest that shea butter increases local capillary circulation, which in turn increase tissue re-oxygenation and improves the elimination of metabolic waste products.

Liberty Natural Products is happy and proud to be a supplier of this wonderful substance. Check out our prices; you'll be glad you did.