Tag Archives: shea butter

3 Top Butters for Natural Hair

What is Hair Butter?

The blend of of high percentage of natural plant butters and organic oils. This hair product acts a sealant, protecting the hair while providing deep moisture, nourishment, sheen, and shine.

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Fair Trade Shea Butter

Fair trade is a movement of individuals and organizations to ensure that people in poor countries are paid a fair wage for their products. Working conditions also must adhere to basic human and labor rights- no child labor, safe conditions, etc. Fair trade certified means that the product was deemed by a third party to meet the standards for fair trade, and meet the social and environmental standards in their operations.

Unrefined shea butter is an important resource in African communities as a way to empower and support women and their families. Shea butter has traditionally been made by women. While the women often gathered the nuts and made the shea butter individually, they would often come together as a group to take their shea butter to the market and sell. The tradition of how to extract the shea butter from the nut is often passed down from the women to their daughters.

It is important to buy Shea butter that has been certified as Fair Trade as it means the women are being paid fair wages and have safe working environments. It is estimated that it can take 20 to 30 hours of labor to produce 1 kilogram of shea butter which is only traded at $1 in today’s markets. This means the woman who works 30 hours in one week would only get a fraction of that dollar which does not even come close to reaching a living wage.

Shea Butter

Shea butter comes from the fat that is extracted from the nut of the Shea tree found in West and Central Africa. Shea butter is ivory or slightly yellowish in color. Shea butter has been used for centuries in Africa and is mentioned in almost all African historical documents. Cleopatra even used it!

Shea butter has been used as a decongestant, anti-inflammatory for sprain, healing salve, cooking oil, and lotion for body and hair. Shea butter is also edible and can be used in food production. Chocolate may contain shea butter as a substitute for cocoa butter.

Recently, studies have found that shea butter can protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays (like a sunscreen), can soothe and heal chapped, irritated skin, and can help prevent wrinkles.

Shea butter has been classified into 5 grades. A is raw/unrefined and the shea butter is extracted using water. B is refined. C is highly refined and is extracted using solvents such as hexane. D is the lowest uncontaminated grade. And E is with contaminates.

How to Make Body Butter

Body Butters are easy to make. They are one of the best products for skin. They moisturize, soothe and protect the skin. Body butters create soft, smooth and silky skin. The shelf life for this body butter is at least two years. No preservative is necessary since it does not contain water.
I use organic ingredients as much as possible. 

Yield: approximately 12 ounces

3/4 cup solid cocoa butter (deodorized or with light scent of cocoa)

3/4 cup solid shea butter or cupuacu butter (I prefer deodorized)

5 ounces sunflower oil

8 drops vitamin E oil (optional)

1/2 teaspoon or 50 drops essential oil (lavender, rose geranium or mandarin essential oil is nice)

 Directions To Make

  1. Melt cocoa butter and shea butter in double boiler. Remove from heat as soon as melted.
  2. Add sunflower oil, vitamin E oil and essential oils to mixture and mix well.
  3. Pour into containers and allow body butter to firm.

Whipped Body Butter Directions

  1. Melt cocoa butter and shea butter in double boiler. Remove from heat as soon as melted.
  2. Add sunflower oil, vitamin E oil and essential oils to mixture and mix well.
  3. Create a cold water bath: Place bowl with body butter mixture on top of a bowl with cold water and ice.
  4. When body butter starts to firm with a jelly-like consistency, whip with a beater for about 5-10 minutes.
  5. Spoon into containers.

Directions for Use
A small amount goes a long way. Apply to moist skin after a shower or bath or apply anytime. Massage extra body butter onto feet and cracked heals, elbows and hands. This butter can also be used on dry and coarse hair. Apply a small amount to moist or dry hair.

Shea Butter from Ghana, Africa & Ele Agbe Company

At my October 2008 course on Making Natural Skin & Body Care Products, I had the pleasure of meeting Comfort Adjahoe. She came all the way from Ghana, Africa to attend the course. The irony of this is, I have wanted to go to Ghana, Africa since 2004 when I started using shea butter from Ghana (pronounced ganna, not gonna like I used to say) in my products.

In my classes I teach about the importance of buying fair trade ingredients especially shea butter. Buying fair trade shea butter pays the women fairly for their hard work. I wanted to visit Ghana to meet these women and watch how they make shea butter starting with the karite tree. Instead, I was fortunate to have them come to me via Comfort. Comfort brought a DVD with slides of the women making the shea butter. She also brought shea butter, lip balms and beautiful beaded jewelry (I am wearing the necklace) in the photo. I love and treasure everything she gave me especially the shea butter in the gourd with a decorative bead and wood burned design and the clay pot with decorations on the side.

Comfort is the chief executive officer of her business, Ele Agbe and Nasheaba Cosmetics. Ele Agbe plays an active role in Ghana employing over 50 young people, mostly women. Her products are sold in the USA and worldwide. In December, when I was at the store Baksheesh in Sonoma, California, I saw a clay pot of shea butter from her company Nasheaba. It brought tears to my eyes to think how connected we all are and how fortunate I was to meet Comfort and spend time with her. She is beautiful, intelligent, strong and an entrepreneur. I am sure it has not been easy for her and yet her powerful will keeps her going past any adversities.

Comfort’s company sells handcrafted beaded jewelry, home decor, shea butter, soaps and body care products. Target and TJ Maxx are some of the purchasers of the home decor. Ten Thousand Villages sells the shea butter in the clay pot.

About Shea Butter Butyrospermum parkii

Shea butter comes from the fat of the nuts of the Karite Tree mainly from West and Central Africa. The shea butter I use is from Ghana prepared by the women elders in the traditional way. The nuts are cracked, grilled, pounded and boiled in water. The oil is separated out of the water and placed into gourds to solidify. The process is all done by hand. This trade helps to provide schools and clean water for the villages.

The best shea butter is unrefined, non-deodorized and unbleached as these processes destroy the natural vitamins and minerals. Shea butter is one of the best butters for skin care high in Vitamins A, E and F. It comes is in solid form with a soft texture. Used for centuries in Africa to moisturize, soften and smooth skin. It provides a water resistant film on the skin. Use for aged, cracked and damaged skin, stretch marks, sunburn, before and after sun exposure, dermatitis, eczema, rashes, circulation, prevention of aging-reduces inflammation and wrinkles. Shea butter is a natural sunscreen.