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Ingredient Focus – Shea Butter


We thought we’d give you some more information about one of our all-time favourite products, Shea Butter, which you will often see listed in ingredients by its INCI name, Butyrospermum parkii.  It’s a great natural skincare product, and we think it’s a must for all you vegetarian and vegan natural beauty lovers out there!


What is Shea Butter?


Shea Butter is the fat extracted from the nut found within the fruit of the African Karite tree.  Rich in nutrients and best friend to anyone with dry skin, highly moisturising but quickly absorbed Shea Butter really is a beauty and first aid cupboard essential.


Karite trees do not start producing fruit for at least 10 years and then do not produce their full capacity until they are around 30 years old.  Thankfully, they can produce fruit for up to 200 years.  These trees will only grow in the wild (attempts to create plantations have failed) and they are perfectly adapted to the African savannah regions within which they are found.  They do not need any human intervention such as irrigation, fertilisers or pesticides, making them a perfect natural product in our eyes.  It is an important resource for the communities which harvest and process the fruit, even more so if the beneficial mechanics of fairtrade are employed.


African Karite (Shea) treeImage courtesy of africa /


What are the properties of Shea Butter?


In its native Africa, Shea Butter is used as a food as well as topically but here in the west we’re more used to using it on our skin.


You may find a grade assigned to your Shea butter, with the best being ‘A’ which is raw and unrefined.  Buying this grade ensures that the butter you are using has retained all its beneficial properties (many if not all are lost when the Shea Butter is refined) and that chemicals have not been used to extract it from the nut.  If you buy refined or chemically extracted Shea Butter it will still moisturise, but you are highly unlikely to benefit from the additional healing properties unrefined Shea Butter has.


Shea Butter is rich in Vitamin A which has anti-ageing properties and helps to soothe, hydrate and heal your skin and Vitamin E, with strong antioxidant properties and it’s another friend when it comes to preventing premature ageing.


It also has a very high content of unsaponifiable Fatty Acids which also contribute to Shea Butters excellent skin softening and moisturising properties, and also its anti-inflammatory effects.  These properties are what make Shea Butter useful for treating such a variety of different skin conditions.


If that wasn’t enough, Shea Butter also contains low level UV SPF protection (approximately 6) so it’s a useful addition to natural sunscreen products.


As it is a natural product, the colour of Shea Butter can vary, from off-white to yellowish grey and it typically has a slight nutty smell.

 Raw Shea ButterImage courtesy of africa /


What can I use Shea Butter for?


Here are a few of the many things it can help with:

  • Dry skin
  • Healing scars and burns
  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Dermatitis
  • Stretch marks
  • Sunburn
  • Rashes
  • Wrinkles
  • Muscle aches
  • Dry hair

I always carry a small pot with me and often use it a lip balm or, if I find I’m waiting around for a while, it makes a great cuticle treatment!


Who can’t use Shea Butter?


Shea Butter may not be suitable for people with Nut or Latex allergies (it contains a natural latex).  We recommend you seek advice before using.  The following Reuters article identifies some of the confusion over whether or not Shea Butter can cause reactions in nut allergy sufferers, click HERE to open the link in another page.

Which of our products contain Shea Butter?


As well as stocking a Shea Butter which is unrefined, organic and fairly traded, we stock a lot of products which have Shea Butter as an ingredient, here are a few of them, clicking on the images will take you to the products:


Akamuti - Pure Wildcrafted Virgin Shea Butter

Bulldog Eco-System Hydrating Fairtrade MoisturiserEarth Friendly Baby - Organic Body Lotionevolve - Multi Peptide Single Cream Heavenly Organics - Lip BalmInika - Organic Mineral LipstickTrilogy - Age Proof Daily Defence Moisturiser SPF15Rawganic - Organic Sensitive Hand & Body LotionVisionary Soap Company - Orange Geranium Hand & Body ButterAkamuti - African Black Soapalva - Sanddorn Moisturising Day CreamAkamuti - Mums Tummy Butter






















Have you used shea butter before?  Tell us your shea butter stories!




We are I Choose What I Use, the 100% vegan (as of 1 May 2015), cruelty free, natural and organic beauty and skin care online store.






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