What Is Shea Butter:
Shea Butter has been used for centuries for its unsurpassed ability to maintain and protect the skin. Shea Butter, or Karite, comes from the nut of the Shea Butter tree, which grows naturally in West Africa. The tree is stout, can grow up to 20 meters high and its trunk can reach 1 meter in diameter. It produces its first fruit when it is about 25 years old and reaches its full production at the age of 40 or 50. The fruits of the Shea Butter tree resemble large plums, approximately 3-6 cm. The covering of the nut is edible and contains 1-3 seeds surrounded by a thin brittle hull. The fatty substance known as Shea Butter is yielded. One tree typically produces about 15-20 kgs. of fresh fruits, or about 3-4 kgs. of kernels.
TRADITIONAL USES OF SHEA BUTTER
The fruits of the Shea Butter tree are harvested by local women. However, as the Shea Butter has typically been protected by the locals who attribute mystical benefits to it, the harvest can be irregular. Traditionally, Shea Butter has been such an important source of edible fat and a valuable material for many skin care products. The pulp of the Shea Butter berries can be eaten when still fresh.
The process of making Shea Butter starts with drying of the Shea Butter with separation of the kernels from the hulls. They are then cold-pressed. This method yields less Shea Butter from the Nut, but all of the benefits are retained. Further refinements removes all impurities from the Shea Butter, yielding an excellent, all-purpose skin and hair care product, known as refined Shea Butter.
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BENEFITS OF SHEA BUTTER
The therapeutic properties of Shea Butter are numerous. Due to the high concentration of unsaponifiable matters as well as fatty acid triglycerides (mainly oleic and stearic) and Phytosterol, which promotes cellular growth, this exceptionally rich vegetable extract yields substantial qualities. Other components of Shea Butter include Kariten, a blend of various derivatives with pro-vitaminic properties; Triterpenic Alcohols with Cinnamon Esters which provide protection from UV rays 275 nm; Allantoin; Resinous Esters which provide healing and disinfecting properties, and other natural compounds with high therapeutic values.
As it penetrates deep into the skin to re-hydrate and promote cell growth, Shea Butter retains moisture in skin lipids to improve elasticity and combat wrinkles and stretch marks. Shea Butter nourishes, rejuvenates, conditions, rehydrates and promotes cell growth.
It is especially beneficial for the healing of small wounds, cracks, crevices and skin ulcers. In the cosmetic field, Shea Butter is an asset against skin aging. Due to its ability to have restructuring effects on the epidermis, it has an anti-elastase characteristic which makes it a good active ingredient against stretch marks. It has no known allergic properties and can even be used around the eye area. Shea Butter is also good for muscle aches and arthritis. It is the consummate skin care product for babies due to its pure and gentle nature. Shea Butter is also excellent for nursing mothers with sore, cracked nipples.
It would also be excellent for senior citizens, especially those who are invalid, to ensure continued suppleness and moisture of their skin.