January 23, 2024 Julie Fanning

Ingredient Spotlight: Shea Butter

Exploring the Magic of Shea Butter

In the realm of skincare, one ingredient has stood the test of time, offering a luxurious touch to soap and artisan body products: shea butter. Derived as a fat from the nuts of the shea tree—typically found in Nigeria, Ghana and other regions of West Africa—this natural wonder has been cherished for centuries for its rich composition and numerous benefits and has become a staple in the creation of high-quality body care items—used by commercial/large-scale companies as well as small-batch artisan businesses such as Simpli Artisan. 

The Highlights

Deep Moisturization: Shea butter is renowned for its exceptional moisturizing properties. Packed with fatty acids and vitamins, it deeply penetrates the skin, providing intense hydration. 

Skin Nourishment and Restoration: The high concentration of vitamins A and E in shea butter is reputed to promote skin cell regeneration and to help maintain skin elasticity. When incorporated into body products, shea butter aids in the restoration of skin, leaving it smooth and soft. And it is noncomedogenic, meaning it doesn’t clog pores.

Natural Healing Properties: Rich in different types of fatty acids, nutrient-rich shea butter is celebrated for its anti-inflammatory compounds that can soothe irritated skin and may alleviate conditions such as eczema and dermatitis. In soap formulations, the butter contributes to a gentle cleansing experience to clear skin of excess oil while locking in moisture—so skin doesn’t feel “squeaky clean.”

Protection Against Environmental Stressors: The skin faces constant exposure to environmental stressors, from harsh weather conditions to pollutants. Shea butter forms a protective barrier on the skin’s surface, helping to shield it from these external aggressors. The same can be said about the protection of hair follicles when beard balm incorporates shea butter to soothe dry and frizzy facial hair.

Versatile Ingredient: Shea butter is incorporated into a variety of our products. In soap recipes it contributes a creamy lather, gentle cleansing and enhances the overall texture. In body products, the high levels of linoleic acid and oleic acid in its composition means the butter is easily absorbed into skin and won’t leave a greasy/oily residue after using it. For hair (such as beard balms and hair masks) it is absorbed quickly into hair and skin providing hydration and conditioning.

Mild and Suitable for All Skin Types: Shea butter is gentle and suitable for all skin types. Whether your skin is sensitive, dry, or oily, shea butter provides a universally beneficial addition to soap and body products. (NOTE: While technically a tree nut product, it’s very low in the proteins that typically trigger allergies. That being said, only an allergist can verify your sensitivity to shea butter.)

Shea butter is available as unrefined (Simplí sources organic shea) and refined—both are used in our products. Unrefined shea butter has a golden color and a somewhat strong nutty scent; it is used in our soapmaking. Refined shea butter removes the nutty scent as well as any/all impurities, resulting in a lighter texture and color—perfect for body product formulation such as sugar scrubs, salves and beard balms—and essential oils and fragrance oils aren’t overcome by the nutty scent of unrefined shea. We use vendors who utilize a more gentle and natural process of refining.

Incorporating shea butter into products is a no-brainer for me when formulating recipes for cleansing, skin moisturizing and for beard/hair products. One thing I will note: it has a relatively low melt point—meaning any products with shea can soften or melt in summer time (in a hot car or a beach bag). Once the product cools you may notice a gritty texture to the item. This doesn’t mean the item is bad and shouldn’t be used. The different fatty acids in the butter cool at different rates—resulting in the grit.

DISCLAIMER: Regulations set forth by the FDA prohibit bath and body companies from making health-related claims about their products. Thus: Simplí Artisan makes no medical claims for any of its products. This blog piece is a culmination of research from many reputable sources providing information on the tested properties of specific ingredients so that you [the consumer] can make your own decision as to whether you’d like to incorporate it into your skincare routine.

I WILL GET OFF MY SOAP BOX NOW. Thanks for reading. ~Julie

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