Shea butter, also referred to as karite, which means "life" has been used across the African continent for centuries. It hails from Central and Western Africa. It's actually a nut fat, as it's obtained from the fruit of the kernel. Shea nuts are picked by women, then par-boiled, and sun-dried for a week in order to dehydrate the nut. This increases their storage time. The next step is to crush the dried fruit, in order to remove the skin. When the shea butter is hand crushed like this, it retains all its numerous vitamins and minerals and the nutty, smoky scent is naturally preserved. The color ranges from off white to gray to golden brown to green, depending upon the maturity of the nut. It's always refined at least once, in order to remove dirt, bits of gourd, or leaves, objects that would not be fun to apply to your skin.
In Africa, shea butter is often used as a cooking oil. Shea butter can also be used as a hair conditioner, as a way to prevent sunburn pain, to soothe cracked, dry feet and hands, especially during those skin-drying winter months or for those of you who live in a dry climate. According to noted soapmaker/author Susan Miller Cavitch, in her 1995 book The Natural Soap Book, writes: "Shea butter is gentle enough for babies and people with sensitive skin. It soothes and softens dry chapped skin, while nourishing all skin types. I have come to rely heavily upon shea butter for its effectiveness." She was using this wonderful substance, and including it in her homemade soaps, long before most people in North America had even heard of shea butter!
The texture of this life giving butter is smooth and creamy. However, since the early part of this century, a new way to make shea butter even more luxurious and soft is to blend it with high quality plant and seed oils in order to create a whipped cream like texture which glides onto your skin. Whipped Shea Butter can be made by those who know which combinations of oils and shea butter can be whipped together to create that natural moisturizer your skin needs and yet not be too heavy/greasy. Properly made whipped shea butter is light, creamy and fluffy and resembles Cool Whip yet doesn't need to be refrigerated.
In 2003 Google's search engine returned only 80 matches for whipped shea butter. Nowadays, it's over 2000! However, for those of you unfamiliar with this wonderful product, whipped shea butter is always 100% natural, containing only shea butter and vegetable/plant/seed oils and an antioxidant such as vitamin E. It can be found unscented or with added fragrances/essential oils. Whipped Shea butter doesn't have any type of wax, water, preservatives, or petroleum/mineral oils. Whipped Shea Butter is always light, creamy and fluffy, making it easily absorbed into your skin.
This is one of the most versatile products available as it can be used as a hair conditioner, makeup remover, all-over moisturizer, softens cuticles, and always soothes dry or chapped skin. Lighter in weight than plain shea butter, whipped shea butter is a sumptuous yet economical way to pamper the body's largest organ - your skin.
About The Author
Lisa Maliga has been designing natural bath & body products since 1998 and this year has launched her company, Everything Shea Aromatic Creations. Her love of shea butter, which is added to all the soaps, prompted her to name her company after the moisturizing and skin-soothing ingredient that comes from the nut of the African shea tree.