Ingredient Feature: Shea Butter
Sinks into Skin To Soothe and Smooth
Imagine a tree that yields a nut, which, when pulverized, generates an edible cream that richly nourishes your skin. Voilà, shea butter.
Shea (“shay”) butter comes from a tree native to West Africa, also known as karite. The word “shea” comes from “s’i,” the tree’s name in the Bamana language of Mali.
Widely used in salves, creams, lotions and conditioners, shea butter is rendered from the tree’s nuts through a time-consuming traditional process. First, the nuts are gathered, washed and sun-dried. Then, they’re sorted, crushed and roasted. After cooling, they are milled into a fine paste, churned with cool water into dough, then kneaded with warm water to render the natural fat emulsion. More cool water is used to separate the fat solids, which next undergo a dehydration/purification process. Once cooled again, a creamy solid bar emerges, ready to be shipped in airtight bags.
Whew! Did we mention this process occurs mostly by hand?
An all-natural fat rich in minerals, proteins and vitamins A and E, the resulting emollient is an ideal skin-care ingredient thanks to its ability to melt at body temperature, allowing it to sink into the skin without greasiness. Also, unlike petroleum-based moisturizers, shea butter is credited with restoring the skin’s natural elasticity.
‘Shea’ comes from ‘s’i,’ the tree’s name in the Bamana language of Mali.
None of this, of course, is news to native Africans, who have relied on the nut for centuries, perhaps millennia. In hot, dry seasons, its butter is used to heal chapped lips, scars and dry skin and serves as a balm for burns and rashes. It also acts as a sunblock and hair conditioner.
In medicinal use, shea butter is credited with having anti-inflammatory properties, helpful against psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis, and for relieving nasal congestion.
At Thymes, we've long recognized the bountiful benefits of shea butter. In fact, shea butter is a key ingredient in all of the hand lotions, hand creams and body lotions we make. Try any of them to see its true, smoothing nature at work.
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