Shea butter contains phytosterols, vitamins E and D, allantoin, and even vitamin A.
Often referred to as Butyrospermum parkii butter or Vitellaria paradoxa, it’s a natural fat obtained from the fruit of the Karate tree.
This towering tree can grow as tall as 60 feet and yield fruit for up to 200 years. It can produce berries the size of plums; one tree alone can produce 20 kg of fruit, yielding up to 4 kg of kernels which produces roughly about 1.5 kg of butter.
Natural antioxidant: As shea butter contains vitamin E in the form of tocopherol and tocotrienols, it acts as a natural antioxidant for the skin. It contains several catechin compounds, which also offer anti-bacterial properties.
Natural SPF: Because the phytosterols in shea contain cinnamic acid esters, it acts as a UV protectant – SPF 3. This also gives shea some of its healing properties because these esters can reduce the skin’s superficial irritation and redness.
Anti-inflammatory: In Africa, shea is used to treat muscular pains and rheumatoid conditions; this is due to its cinnamic acid and oleic fatty acid properties. The cinnamic acid esters help to reduce redness (erythema) within skin tissues.
Skin healing: It contains allantoin, which is approved by the FDA. It is used as a skin barrier ingredient to prevent and protect chafed, chapped, cracked, or windburned skin, by speeding up skin’s natural processes and increasing the water content.
Moisturising: You can find up to 50% oleic acids in shea butter; this gives the butter its moisturising, regenerating, anti-inflammatory, skin softening properties, and around 40% stearic acid, which allow it to boost skin flexibility and moisture retention. It also acts as an occlusive, locking water against your skin.
Anti-Elastase: Shea helps to restore suppleness within the skin and increase moisturisation; this is due to its stearic acid, which helps to give the skin its flexibility. Shea is also thought to be useful for the prevention of stretch marks.
Penetrative Abilities: Skin readily absorbs this butter, making the delicate tissue appear fuller and more hydrated after use.
Qualities of shea butter:
- anti-inflammatory reduces redness – cinnamic acid esters
- protecting, regenerating, and wound healing – allantoin, oleic, stearic
- moisturising skin – polyphenols, oleic, stearic, occlusive nature
- skin softening, suppleness – polyphenol, tocopherols, oleic, stearic
- anti-bacterial – polyphenols, catechins
- sunscreen SPF 3 – cinnamic acid esters
- irritation – cinnamic acid esters