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Overview of Shea butter

You might have heard the term Shea butter associated with many cosmetics and beauty treatments. But have you ever wondered what it actually is? What differentiates it from the normal butter that we consume? Is it good for your health and skin? Let us find out in detail about this product.

Shea butter is widely used in Shea butter soap, creams and other cosmetics. This is actually an oil which is rich in fats. It is obtained from the karite tree popularly known as the Shea tree. It can solve several health, skin and hair related health issues. The oil had recently become quite popular in the western world and you will easily find Shea butter soap, lotions, shampoos, cosmetics and conditioners in the market.

It constitutes for a great natural beauty product that can bring shine back on your skin and hair. This butter or oil is extracted from the nuts of the tree whose botanical name is Vitellariaparadoxa. This plant is naïve to Africa. To produce Shea butter, nuts inside the fruits are crushed And boiled and then manipulated to extract this light colored oil.

The main components of this product are stearic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid,   etc. It works effectively as it gets absorbed by the body instantly as it melts at body temperature. It has got moisturizing and healing properties and is also anti microbial and anti inflammatory in nature. This helps in treating several skin ailments. It is similar to many vegetable oils in the composition.

History and origin of Shea butter:

This rich nut butter has its origin in Africa and the tree producing this oil is a native inhabitant of West Africa for centuries. You can find stretches of Shea tree from Senegal to Sudan and even in the foothills of Ethiopia. Shea butter is widely mentioned in African history as a rich butter which was used for hair and skin care during Cleopatra’s reign. Even it was widely used by the Queen of Sheba.

Earlier the wood from the Shea tree was used to build coffins for the African kings and the nuts were used for skin and hair care purposes. Many tribes in Africa consider this tree to be sacred because of its healing properties. It is still widely used in the African region to protect the skin and hairs from the harsh effects of sun and dry winds in this region. This butter was produced by kneading the oil by hand after extraction. But advanced technology has led to better methods for Shea butter production such as clay filtering and making use of Hexane to extract Shea butter. Some tribes of northern Nigeria mix it with palm oil and use for cooking.

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