The A B C of Shea Butter.
Africa, Beauty and Cookery. Three words, one ingredient.
It all starts with a nut. The Shea nut: the source of what we call Shea Butter. It’s an important ingredient in natural cosmetics, rich in antioxidants and Vitamins E and A.
With a long history behind it, shea butter has traditionally been used in many different ways, from a medicinal ointment and hair treatment to an ingredient in cooking.
We’ve decided to tell its story with an A B C, choosing three keywords which provide plenty of inspiration for further reading.
A is for Africa.
Its origin and history start here, in the shea belt, an area of dry forest and savannah in the tropical region stretching from Senegal to Uganda. The shea tree is an integral part of the local culture in these countries, a sacred plant whose every part is used to the full. The butter is still laboriously produced by hand before being sold to local, regional and international markets. Women pick the fruit, which is then shelled to obtain the nuts. They are dried, pounded, ground and mixed with water to obtain a thick paste. The paste is then boiled and filtered in cotton cloths, cooled and refined.
B is for Beauty.
Shea butter is used primarily in the beauty industry. Its properties as a treatment for dry and blemished skin, cracked lips, stretch marks and wrinkles have been known since ancient times. It is said that Egyptian Queen Nefertiti used it regularly to help her stay looking beautiful. For many years now it has been a popular ingredient in soaps, since it releases a small quantity of oil which helps keep skin moist and hydrated after washing. Rich in nutrients, shea butter has precious benefits for skin which has become damaged or dull in appearance after exposure to external agents, the wind and cold, pollution or sunlight.
C is for Cooking.
Shea butter is not widely known as a cooking ingredient, but keen cooks can enjoy using it in deliciously healthy, all-natural recipes.
It has always been used as a cooking fat in Africa, but we recommend using it raw: spread it on toast and top with jam, or add a teaspoonful to a smoothie for an energy boost. But be careful: not all shea butter can be eaten. Make sure you’re using the raw, 100% organic, non-refined version before you head for the kitchen!