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The Amazing Healing Power of Shea Butter

Updated on December 11, 2011

pure unrefined shea butter


The Amazing Healing Power of Shea Butter

Shea butter has been on this earth for thousands of years but it is only in the last decade or so that large cosmetic companies have started adding it to their products. But be warned - simply because it has ‘shea butter’ on the list of ingredients does not mean it is pure shea butter - or that there is even enough to make a difference in the product.

I have always opted for the pure shea butter found in African shops all over Brooklyn. I have also been witness to its healing powers. If I have a cut, I would wash it, dry it, slather on the shea butter and I could immediately feel it knitting. When my granddaughter had a diaper rash, I bathed her, dried the area, and slathered on the shea butter, put on a diaper - and the next morning the rash was entirely gone.

How is shea butter made?

African shea butter is made from the nut of the African Shea tree which is also known as the Karite Tree. It is mostly found in West African countries like Ghana, Togo, Mali, Burkina Faso and Nigeria. It can also be found in East Africa. It is not found all over Africa. Remember Africa is a continent made up of over 50 different countries.

Traditionally, the nuts, called shea nuts, are picked, roasted, and pounded. They are then boiled for several hours to extract 100% pure unrefined shea butter. This is the kind you want.

Why are there different colors?

Because unrefined shea butter is extracted naturally or cold pressed, the color may vary between beige to medium yellow. The large cosmetic companies that refine and process shea butter use Hexane (a saturated hydrogen obtained by distillation from petroleum) - which is used to extract more shea butter.

Shea butter has a natural scent; as it gets older the scent diminishes - this scent may be described as nutty, and sometimes smoky as it is prepared under open fire. Once applied to the skin it has no scent.

This unrefined shea butter does not spoil but it is most potent in the first year and a half. It is still useable after then but not as beneficial.

Shea butter uses are:

1 - The treatment of dry skin, eczema, and minor burns

2 - Pain relief from arthritis and swelling

3 - Improvement in muscle relaxation and stiffness

4 - Sunscreen due to its rich content of Vitamins E and D

5 - Treats dark spots, stretch marks, skin discoloration, blemishes and wrinkles

6 - Massages, diaper rash, and as a hair conditioner

As I enter my platinum years I have no wrinkles, scars, marks, etc. Of course I know this is generally due to genetics but shea butter has enhanced my skin - it remains soft, supple and even toned. When I go out during the winter months I rub a bit of shea butter into my palms to liquefy it and rub it on my face and neck - my skin absorbs it and it is never greasy.

This is the only personal care product that I must have in my home. The therapeutic properties of shea butter protect the skin from wind, cold and sun. It helps heal wounds faster as it stimulates cellular activity.

It is also, in its purest form, the most inexpensive personal care product you can find. The prices recently went up but still I get an 8 ounce tub for only $4.00 (see photo). A little goes a long way and this one tub can last me a year.

I do prefer using products that are not toxic.

For additional information, there are many websites and tons of information about shea butter all over the internet


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