THE SHEA BUTTER

The shea tree and the use of shea butter are already mentioned over 4000 years ago in ancient Egypt.

African women have never stopped using shea butter for its moisturizing, nourishing, soothing, softening, healing and protective virtues. The shea (vitellaria paradoxa) is a tree which grows wild in West Africa and can grow up almost ten to fifteen meters in height.

The Shea is considered sacred in many cultures and people face reprisals if they attempt to cut it down or destroy it.

The shea tree has so far not been the subject of organized cultivation because of the number of years required before fruit production (generally 15 years). Only in its 25th year does the tree reach full maturity. The shea nut occurs in the form of ovoid fruit truss which can be dark green to brown and which contains two almonds. Each almond contains fat representing half of its weight. Fruits are picked between June to September. It’s a task often reserved for women and this is why the shea nut is called “women’s gold”.

The collection of shea nuts as well as the extraction of shea butter is exclusively done by women from rural areas. Revenues generated by the shea nuts go to the poorest villagers.

In West Africa, Shea nuts are picked between mid-June to mid-September. Once clears out of its shell, the almond is crushed, roasted, and grinded until it turns into a thick paste, and after mixing with water, the paste will be vigorously churned. Once removed, the butter floating on the surface is mixed before being cooked a long time in order to evaporate water and deposit impurities. Oil obtained (In fact, liquid butter) will be filtered before being packed.