28 April 2011

Shea Butter ~ A Buzz report

SHEA BUTTER ~ the butter of life

Karité - means 'life'

Nowadays, it would seem like one of the terms we are trending is #Shea butter. In Barbados, and from the little I have seen across the pond, there is an increase in the number of haircare and skincare products who claim to have 'pure shea butter' in its arsenal of ingredients. 

But, as with many things in our society, things are cyclic. Shea butter, is nothing new. In fact, it is centuries old; and, it has been used to treat patients and even royalty, so African history goes. I don't see it either as jumping on the bandwagon, so to speak. It is more like it is to be expected in this age of Twitter, Facebook and an abundance of web-based information, and of course, how technology has facilitated the ease with which word-of-mouth information travels, as well. 
Men and women are more aware of products and processes which eliminate harmful substances and just try to use a range of more natural healthcare, hair and skincare products. 

What is Shea butter?
Shea butter is a natural fat rich in Vitamins A, E and F. It is quite versatile, too. Unrefined shea butter:
  • is used in cooking - yes, it can be eaten!
  • acts as a protectant 
  • is used as a moisturizer for skin and hair 
Further benefits include:
  • revitalizes chapped heals and skin
  • will not leave a greasy feeling on hair and skin
  • helps to keep skin clear and healthy
  • curbs the appearance of stretch marks during pregnancy
  • adds lustre to hair
On natural hair
Shea butter imparts a natural shine as it conditions and moisturizes. This is great news, given the fragility of natural hair, it gives dry dull hair the boot!

Shea nuts

Where does it come from?
Shea butter comes from the nut of the Shea or Karité tree; a tree which is endemic to the grasslands of Central and Western Africa. For example, countries such as: Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Senegal.

They are wild trees and grow best in that kind of climate and away from the mass-production of plantations.  Unrefined Shea butter is beige to medium yellow in colour. The older it gets, the darker the colour. It possesses a natural scent, not too offensive; but, that diminishes over time. 

In many of the countries mentioned above, Shea butter is still extracted traditionally and right in the villages. Some women may use a cold-pressed method instead, which is via a metal grinder of some sort. Neither one of these two methods employs any chemicals. Furthermore, Shea nuts/Shea butter extraction is widely regarded as an important income earner.

The traditional extraction method goes more or less like this: 
  • the nuts are picked, washed, the outer skin/pulp is removed exposing the nut still covered by its shell. 
  • the shell is then cracked and the nut removed and put to dry. Imagine cracking hundreds of these everyday and having to remove the shells and ensure that every single piece is thoroughly discarded? 
  • after this, the nuts are crushed into a powdery substance using mortar and pestle. This in itself is a long and arduous task which the women and girls of the village undertake.
  • the powdery nuts are then placed in pots on wood fires and must be constantly stirred to avoid the butter being burnt. Water is eventually added to make a paste. 
  • the paste is kneaded to separate the oils. As the oils/butter rise and curdle it is taken off and set aside to cool.
Women carrying basins of shea nuts on their heads

Unrefined vs. Refined?
Unrefined Shea butter is 100% pure, extracted from the Shea tree nut.
Refined Shea butter has been manipulated chemically. 
Shea butter based products will not provide the same high quality moisture as products which are unrefined as they probably contain a mere trace of Shea butter. Manufacturers use these tactics to entice you into buying their products.

Home-made projects
You can make your own Shea butter recipes, too.
Here is a simple one for your hair compliments of Natural hair Diva, Fleurtzy. 
You can see her on YouTube

Do you have your own Shea Butter hair recipe?
What have your experiences been like using Pure Shea Butter products?
We're all interested in reading about them; so, leave a comment/story on this post.


Naturaleza  (o:



  1. Theres a new beauty store called "Caribbean Queen" its in the building where Trimart  used to be on the bridge.They stock the white and yellow shea butter for about $12 a tub,can't tell you what  the amount is.And C.S pharmacy in Trident house also stocks it...I'm a big fan of shea butter :)

  2. Thank you, Faith! I'm yet to use the raw shea butter. I tend to use it as the major ingredient in shampoos and hair cremes. Can you tell me though, Faith, how do you use it? After washing? For daily hairdo's? Let me know. Thanks, Sis, I'd really appreciate it.

  3. Danille Springer12 March 2012 at 20:41

    Where do you buy shea butter from in Barbados?

  4. Hi Danille. Thanks for your question.

    You can contact one of the Jenn's Health and Beauty Supplies outlets (Mall Internationale, to be specific) for further details on availability, price, etc. I'm not sure of other beauty supply stores that retail it. Hope this helps.

    Let me know how it goes.


Hi there! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I enjoy having your feedback. Please check back to see how others have shared on this post.