Beauty in a Nutshell: Interesting Facts About Shea Butter
By now, you have probably heard of beauty products containing shea butter. Cosmetics containing them usually have a distinct smell – sweet and rather fragrant. Mainly used in creams, moisturizers and lotions, it is a valuable and very effective ingredient, considering its widespread use. However, do you actually know anything about where it comes from or what it is? Well, don’t fret – we’re here to fill the void and help you learn more about it.
Shea Butter Comes from Nuts
Not everyone knows shea butter comes from a nut, mainly because of the word “butter”. Basically, the product is extracted from the nut of the shea tree, which exclusively grows in West Africa, Turkey and some parts in Europe. Basically, the “butter” is a white or ivory-colored fat (yes, plants have fat) which harvested and then processed.
Shea Butter isn’t Only Used in Cosmetics
Aside from cosmetics, shea butter is also used in a variety of ways. For example, some soap makers, both small time and large players, use it as an ingredient. In certain African countries like Benin, shea butter is used as a cooking oil, waterproofing wax, candle-making and in hairdressing.
Its versatility is also recognized by African percussion instrument makers who use it to increase the durability instruments’ wooden parts. Shea butter is also used as a substitute for cacao in making chocolate, although the taste, texture and just about everything about it is different.
Shea Butter is Used in Medicine
The butter also has medicinal properties which is why it is widely used as a salve and an ointment. Although studies have yet to prove its healing capabilities, it is rumored to possess anti-inflammatory properties, making it a feasible treatment option in treating certain skin conditions. It also used as a remedy for sinusitis and nasal problems in Nigeria.
Africa is a land of extremely hot temperatures – its inhabitants have found ways to protect their skin and ensure the hair doesn’t get too damaged. One of these is to use shea butter. Citizens of Ghana use it as a lotion during Harmattan season to shield the skin from the heat and the dusty winds. Cracked and dry skin is prevalent in this region, and the best way to help cure this is by coating the skin with the butter.
Ancient Egyptians Used It
Let’s take a time capsule to ancient Egypt, one of the greatest and earliest civilizations. If you’ve seen wall drawings, texts and carvings by ancient Egyptians and learned about their culture, these people are very sophisticated – and vain. Drawings depict beautiful Egyptian women sporting makeup, eye shadow and even face paint. Ancient scrolls and carvings even say that these people used perfumes, took baths and used a variety of cosmetics, including honey and shea butter.
During Queen Cleopatra’s rule, caravans containing clay jars of valuable shea butter were being transported throughout the kingdom. No doubt that the Queen herself has used it, as it was a known to be a way to protect the skin from the harsh desert winds and dust.
Overall, shea butter is a natural ingredient that has made leaps and bounds in cosmetics. Don’t shy away from using it, considering its outstanding benefits!