Tag Archives: Shea

Comparing Shea Butter: East African and West African Shea Butter

Comparing Shea Butter: East African and West African Shea Butter

I previously wrote about the benefits and processing of shea butter here and fair trade shea butter here and here.

I use both types of these shea butters in the formulations in the Professional Natural Skin Care Product Making Course.

East African Shea Butter

East African shea butter comes from the eastern side of the African continent, from Northern Uganda and Sudan.

Shea Nilotica shea butter comes from the fruit of the Karite tree, Vitellaria nilotica. It is easily available in organic and unrefined. Shea Nilotica is very soft and creamy. The butter spreads easily on the skin. It does not have a strong aroma and the color is light yellow. Shea Nilotica creates creamy, rich and soft formulations. The light aroma is easy to work with in formulations. The color produces a cream color formulation. Shea Nilotica has a lower melt point than Butyrospermum parkii.

Learn How To Make Simple Whipped Body Butter with Shea Nilotica, recipe here.

West African Shea Butter


West African shea butter comes from the western side of the African continent, much of it from Ghana. Butyrospermum parkii shea butter comes from the fruit of the Karite tree, Butyrospermum parkii. This is a hard and solid butter. It has a higher melt point than Shea Nilotica. It needs to be softened or melted first to apply it to the skin. It is available in unrefined or refined. The color varies depending on if it is unrefined or refined. This beautiful shea butter moisturizes, softens and smooth’s skin and hair. Since it is a harder butter it helps to thicken and add body to formulations.

Unrefined Shea Butter

Unrefined shea butter has a strong nutty aroma. It is hard to mask with essential oils. The nutty aroma comes through strongly. For years I only used unrefined but in the last several years I switched to refined since it is processed through a natural deodorizing process now. The nutty scent of the unrefined comes through regardless of the essential oils added for scent. The color is tan.

Refined Shea Butter
Refined shea butter is now available naturally filtered through diatomaceous earth, a chemically free process to deodorize it. I mostly use refined shea butter so my added scent of essential oils come through. The color is off-white.

Learn How To Make Shea Body Butter with Butyrospermum parkii shea butter, recipe here.

joan morais Joan Morais is a natural cosmetic formulator, instructor, author and the owner of Joan Morais Naturals. Joan assists product makers on how to make high quality, stable and effective natural body, hair and skin care products for personal use and a product making business.