With the rising focus on natural skin care, people are starting to delve deeper into learning about the ingredients in their cosmetics. Natural ingredients are being brought into the spotlight for being a cleaner alternative to many of the chemicals in drugstore brand items. Skin care products do not need to be packed with laboratory constructed compounds to have beneficial and enriching effects. One of the best multi-purpose natural ingredients is shea butter (butyrospermum parkii.) Shea butter is extracted from the shea tree as fat from the tree’s nuts. It has a creamy consistency and is solid at room temperature. The vast majority of the world’s shea butter supply is produced in West Africa, where the shea tree is native to. Shea butter has long been touted as a skin-care staple, in fact it has been used in different cultures for centuries.
The shea tree grows in 19 different African nations and has for a long time provided a source of income for women in these regions. It is sometimes referred to as “women’s gold” for providing many women and their families with a living. Many mothers pass down their knowledge of the production of shea to their daughters and thus it has become for many families a legacy. The production of shea butter starts with the boiling of the shea nuts to make the shells easier to remove. Then, the women begin the painstaking process of ensuring every shell is removed one by one. The shea nuts are then roasted before being beaten with water to extract the fat from within. Once the fat has been separated, it is boiled and then sifted to become the final shea butter that is used in many cosmetics and skin care products.