SHEA BUTTER: The Many Uses & Benefits

This blog is long overdue since Shea Butter is both the way Eden’s Balance was incepted and also one of the main ingredients that we use.  So here is a recap of how Eden’s Balance officially started with my boyfriend (at the time) & a 40lb gourd of Shea Butter…

SHEA IN GOURD

I will never forget the day in 2009 that Papa Bear brought home a huge box that contained the largest gourd I had ever seen.  The gourd was filled with a bright yellow buttery substance that I had never even heard of.  He touted it as a miracle for skin, hair and even cooking.  The only concern that he mentioned was the smell and the texture that people, who are conditioned to buy Johnsons & Johnsons, were not very fond of.  Granted…it smelled pretty nutty & earthy to say the least.  However the benefits far out weighed the unpleasant aroma.

KARITE NUT
KARITE NUT

WHAT IS SHEA BUTTER?  Quite possibly Africa’s best kept secret…until more recent years it was not very main stream in the Western World.  Now you hear about Shea benefits everywhere.   Shea Butter comes from a nut produced by the Karite Tree (also known as the Magnifolia tree) that grows wild in savannah regions of West and Central Africa.  The Karite Tree is not farmed, it takes 50 years to mature and lives up to 300 years.   The Karite nut is an important source of food, medicine & income for many African communities.  This little nut is known as “Women’s Gold” because it is an industry mostly employed by women.  How cool is that!?!

WOMEN FROM NORTHERN GHANA
WOMEN FROM NORTHERN GHANA

Shea Butter is the fat that is cooked out of the Karite nut.  Its color can range from ivory to yellow depending on how long it is cooked.  Shea butter has been used for thousands of years to help heal burns, sores, scars, dermatitis, psoriasis, dandruff, and stretch marks. It may also help diminish wrinkles by moisturizing the skin, promoting cell renewal, and increasing circulation. Shea butter also contains cinnamic acid, a substance that helps protect the skin from harmful UV rays.

Shea butter is a particularly effective moisturizer because contains so many fatty acids, which are needed to retain skin moisture and elasticity.   Loaded with Vitamins A, D & E it packs a serious skin healing punch.  It has proven to be an effective barrier for the skin from both environmental & free-radical toxins.

After learning the benefits I had to try this stuff.  I started using it raw at first, it is a bit crumbly & can be messy in this form.  However the benefits far out weight the messy-ness.  So thus my mission to find the perfect mixture of natural oils to still retain the amazing benefits of the Shea Butter and have a user friendly texture and scent.  I spent hours in the kitchen with a hand mixer.  The first batch I used was the ivory Shea Butter.  I don’t care for the ivory Shea Butter scent.   I don’t know for sure but the ivory has a more chemical smell to me.  The huge benefit of the ivory over the yellow is staining as the yellow tends to stain clothes.

To me the more natural scent of the yellow Shea Butter is more appealing. It also seems less processed, this is why I use yellow Shea Butter in all of my products now.

SHEA BUTTER COMES IN IVORY OR YELLOW DEPENDING ON HOW LONG IT IS PROCESSED
SHEA BUTTER COMES IN IVORY OR YELLOW DEPENDING ON HOW LONG IT IS PROCESSED

After several botched batches of Shea Butter,  some so hard you could break a window with and some so over cooked that it was grainy, the perfect formulation was born.  KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) is a method that I totally believe in and for Shea Butter this is the key.  You want to heat the Shea as little as possible & add only necessary beneficial ingredients that serve a purpose.

SHEA BUTTER USES:

FOOD: In Africa, Shea Butter is used as a source of food.  Since it comes from a plant source it is healthier than any animal fat & rich in vitamins & fatty acids. Shea Butter has a distinctly smoky & nutty taste.  It can be used as a substitute for butter or margarine in baking, simply use quantities called for by the recipe.  It also provides anti-inflammatory benefits.  Spread on toast or pancakes.  Use to sauté veggies on a medium setting.  Use Shea Butter instead of dairy butter or olive oil as a basis for sauce to pour over pasta, rice, meat or vegetables. Shea butter, garlic and green onions make a simple but tasty sauce that dresses up many dishes.

cooking

When using Shea Butter to cook it is imperative that you use only unrefined forms of the butter.  It is impossible to get Organic Shea Butter because it grows wild & is not cultivated.  I have an amazing distributor who I am close friends with so I know I am getting the highest quality Shea Butter possible…unless I were to make it my self of course.  Message me at Stephanie@edensbalance.com if you need to order, I can supply anywhere from 8oz to 20lbs at a time.

SKIN CARE:  The traditional use  is to reduce the appearance of fine lines, scars and stretch marks, and to ease a variety of skin irritations. Makers of cosmetics also mix this natural substance with other botanical ingredients. Shea butter is ideal for the topical application of cosmetic and medicinal formulas, because it melts on contact and is readily absorbed into the skin, without leaving a greasy residue.  Allergies, eczema, dermatitis, wrinkles, stretch marks, burns and abrasions are all common skin conditions that have shown improvement when treated with Shea butter. Shea butter also contains active properties that have been shown to treat insect bites, sunburns and frostbites.

Since 68% of what goes on your skin gets absorbed into your body, it is also important to use unrefined Sea Butter on your skin as well.  Message me to order Stephanie@edensbalance.com

Making your own skin care products with Shea Butter is a great place to start.  It is more than beneficial & very simple.  I won’t lie it can be a bit messy to work with.  In my formulation I use between 80-90% Shea Butter since I don’t want to diminish the already amazing properties too much.  Liquid oils such as Sweet Almond Oil, Avocado Oil, Jojoba Oil & Hemp Seed Oil, to name a few, will mix nicely & give your final mixture a fluffy, smooth, easy to apply whipped texture.  Essential Oils are a great way to get botanical benefits however you can also steep herbs directly in the Shea Butter & drain before mixing.  I always use at least 3% Vitamin E for added benefits & also to keep the mixtures properties in tact longer.  Oils & butters alone will last as long as 1-3 years if no liquids are introduced…always remember, liquid breeds bacteria when mixed with oils & butters.  You can’t always see the bacteria so use extreme caution not to get your butter wet, ever.

If you don’t feel like making your own Shea Body Butters, Eden’s Balance has an amazing formulation with Sweet Almond Oil, Vitamin E, Essential Oils & various other herbal ingredients.  Message me for orders Stephanie@edensbalance.com

Body Butter flavors included: Lavender, Lavender/Vanilla, Oranges & Cream, Lemon Souffle, Tea Tree/Lavender, Peppermint Foot Cream

HAIR CARE:  Shea Butter has been used for generations to maintain twists & locs.  It provides extraordinary moisturizing benefits & is called “mother nature’s conditioner”.  This butter best for thicker, course or dry hair.  It can be used as a deep conditioning treatment or for daily hair & scalp moisture.   If your hair is fine it can be too much for daily use.

Since what you put on your skull get directly absorbed into the fluid around your brain, unrefined Shea Butter is best for hair care too…get the idea…Unrefined Shea Butter Only.

SHEA BUTTER PRECAUTIONS:

While Shea Butter is awesome & amazing…like all things, natural or not, sometimes everything is not good for everyone.  Shea Butter is a Tree Nut…this means…simply put…if you are allergic to Tree Nuts, you may very well be allergic to Shea Nuts as well.  Shea Butter also has properties that mimic natural latex, so if you are allergic to latex you may be allergic to Shea Butter.  Check out the full Medical Disclaimer Here

With these few precautions in mind…enjoy your Shea Butter journey.  Please contact me if you have any questions along the way… Stephanie@edensbalance.com

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