Shea Butter FAQS

What is shea butter?

Shea butter is a fat extracted from the nut of the shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) which is native to Africa, across the Sub Sahara belt. Shea butter contains important bioactive nutrients such as vitamins A, E and F, cinnamates, phytosterol etc. This makes it a powerful moisturiser and anti-ageing as well as anti-inflammatory substance. In addition to that, its mild sun blocking properties make it a popular skincare choice in Africa.

How is shea butter different from other natural butters/oils?

Shea butter, like other seed oils can be chemically separated into two different fractions- a saponifiable fraction responsible for the moisturising properties and the non-saponifiable fraction which contain the healing and anti-aging properties. Research has shown that the healing fraction in shea butter can be as high as 17% compared to other seed oils which may contain as little as 1%. In addition to this, when it comes to cooking, shea butter can be a much healthier alternative to other oils like coconut oil, which contains almost double the amount of saturated fat than shea butter.

What does grade A shea butter mean?

Not all shea butter is created equal. There is a direct correlation between the quality of the shea nuts processed and the quality of the shea butter produced. This is why we make sure that the finest Shea nuts are selected to produce our shea butter.

Shea butter can be made in different ways and this usually impact the quality. Below are the five internationally recognised categories of shea butter:

Grade A – Otherwise known as raw/unrefined shea butter. This is usually extracted using roasting and kneading techniques that are largely done by hand. Properly executed, the extraction process allows for as much of the bioactive properties of the shea butter to be retained. Therefore, Grade A shea butter will contain the highest levels of bioactive properties and will have a shelf life of 2 years when stored properly.

Grade B – Otherwise known as refined shea butter. The extraction process is similar to that of grade A shea butter but the butter is then bleached and deodorised to remove the natural scent of shea butter. This refining process strips away the healing components of the butter but retains its moisturising properties. Also holds shelf life of 2 years when stored properly.

Grade C – Highly refined using various solvents. All refined shea butter will give you a snow white, odourless colour.

Grade D – Ultra refined but uncontaminated. Again, white in colour.

Grade F – Lowest quality shea butter. Ultra-refined but contaminated and possibly rancid. This is obviously undesirable and possibly dangerous and should not be knowingly used.

From the information above, shea butter ranges from excellent to very poor. Grade A (food grade) is the highest quality you can find and is the only grade of shea butter that we offer at Vitaglow.

What does good shea butter look like?

The colour of shea butter can be varied seeing as the shea tree grows in up to 19 different countries with slightly varying climates. Grade A unrefined shea butter can appear to be whiteish, yellow, beige, ivory or cream.

What does shea butter smell like?

Shea butter has a natural nutty smell. Again, the smell varies from region to region, even batch to batch. Any unrefined shea butter extracted from quality nuts under controlled conditions process need not have an overpowering smell.

Who can use shea butter?

Shea butter is often described as skin’s best friend. It is perfect for all skin types and can be used for hair. It is also widely used as a healthy cooking/frying fat, for baking and is used extensively in the confectionary industry.

How do I store my shea butter?

Shea butter will keep perfectly in normal room temperatures. It should be stored in an airtight container and kept away from direct sunlight and any contaminants. When left in a warm room or under the direct sunlight, shea butter will readily melt.

Where do we get our shea butter from?

Our shea butter is currently made in Nigeria by women cooperatives that we have partnered with. These women have many years of shea butter making experience, often making shea butter for their own personal consumption. It is important to us that we empower the people that are involved in making our shea butter and we are proud to be doing our part in supporting the sustainable production of shea butter in Nigeria.


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