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Posts Tagged ‘Shea Butter’

I recently received a question from a fellow soap maker that asked about graininess in products that contain shea butter. From time to time I have experienced shea butter grains in a lotion, cream, or whipped shea butter product myself.

Research the shea butter grains issue on the internet and you will find a plethora of explanations:
-used unrefined shea butter in product
-used refined shea butter in product
-heated the shea butter to an excessive temperature and then cooled it too quickly
-used shea butter that was too old in product
-used shea butter that had gone through a temperature change (too hot or too cold in shipment)

I get best results from unrefined shea butter (not bleached or deodorized). I also never overheat the shea (not to exceed 150 degrees). Heat it only enough to allow it to begin to melt, then remove it from the heat source.

When I produce products that contain shea butter I always watch for the tell-tale signs of shea butter grains. Watch the sides of the mixing container, for example. Grains definitely like to cling there. What do I do when a product turns out grainy? I use it myself, or a friend gets to use it. The thing is, an occasional shea butter grain is going to happen. It may look and feel strange, but it does indeed melt on contact. Normally, though, where there is one grain, there are a lot more, and the product doesn’t fit into the creamy or smooth category when it feels like it has small particles in it.

I hope this helped with your question. I am sure there are a lot of explanations, and there definitely is a lot of conflicting information on the internet to sift through. This post outlines what works for me.

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Bing! I opened my newest package of shea butter and instantly felt as if I needed sunglasses.  It was as deep yellow as it could be! Nope, there is nothing wrong with the shea butter.  It is completely natural.  Shea butter varies in color from cream to yellow. 

As a reminder, due to natural variances in shea butter, my goat milk lotion ranges from a pale butter color to nearly pure white.    The scent of the shea butter also varies in strength.   The scent of shea butter in a lotion dissipates within minutes of application to the skin.

Shea butter is an excellent skin softener! A small dab of shea butter applied to the ends of your hair after shampooing works better than an expensive bottle of conditioner. Shea butter is also great for sore or ragged cuticles.  And, my family and I have used shea butter to heal burns and scars!

For more shea butter information, here is my original shea butter article.  And here is my article regarding product storage.  Shea butter and other natural ingredients require room temperature storage.  DO NOT leave your lotions, creams, or other natural products in a very hot environment.  The car is NOT a good place for storage!

FYI…whipped shea butter samples will soon be available.  The cooler fall temps will allow me to ship without the fear of a melt-down.  Who wants a melt-down???!!! Not I!

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Shea Butter For The Hair

I recently personally discovered the wonders of shea butter for the hair, quite by accident I will admit.

Shea butter has been used on the skin and hair for centuries, as I wrote in a prior article. Shea butter is definitely not the most current buzz, but will always be a beauty staple because of its qualities.

In my soap shop I whipped up a recipe of shea butter a few weeks ago. After not quite being happy with the results, I found that I need to make another batch, but next time with unrefined shea butter, the best that I can get my hands on. Using refined shea butter is acceptable (for soap and other uses), but does not always give the needed results when working with a specific formula (deliberate skin and hair care).

Now I will tell you how I discovered the benefits of shea butter for my own hair. I have fine hair, but not thin, and I wear my hair in slightly long layers and fairly straight. My hair is not colored. Because of my fine hair, and because I have to wash it often to remove oil from the scalp, I had pretty much made up my mind that shea butter would not be a good product for my hair. Wrong, wrong, and wrong! One evening I applied whipped shea butter to my hands. It is a wonderful treatment for the nails, cuticles, and dry skin of the hands. After applying to the hands, I waited a few moments for absorption before reaching for the hair dryer (I dry with my head held upside down, running my fingers through for volume). As I dried, I thought to myself, “Oh, oh, this will lead to a flat hair day! Oh well, the goats do not care!” The results were surprising…the end result was that I still had volume, and my hair acted and looked healthier than normal, even the next day! What this tells me is, whipped shea butter really is a wonderful versatile product for the skin and the hair, a 2 in 1 product. You can use less, and you can use more, and the results are amazing. And how better can you get than natural?

I cannot wait to receive the unrefined quality shea butter that I have on order, and whip up a few batches (along with other skin and hair helpful ingredients), for placement on the Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps store shelf!

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Shea butter, sometimes called shea nut butter, is a common natural fat used in soap, lotion and cosmetic formulations.

Shea butter is derived from the fruit (kernel, nut, seed) of the shea tree, strictly from West Africa. The harvest process is a female activity, and is very beneficial to the West African economy. A 20 year old shea tree begins to produce the shea nut. Shea trees, interesting enough, do not reach full production until they are 45 years old!

The fruit of the shea tree contains 50% fat, yellowish or ivory shea butter, which is obtained through a crushing and boiling process.

One surprising fact about shea butter is that it is also used for cooking in West Africa. Some use shea butter as a substitute for cocoa butter in chocolate.

Shea butter contains antioxidant properties, such as vitamin A and E. It is a moisturizer and emollient. Shea butter is used to treat scars, eczema, burns, rashes, blemishes, dry skin, itching, skin allergies, and wrinkles.

Speaking of allergies, there is debate regarding allergic reactions to shea butter. Even though shea butter is derived from the nut of the shea tree, many say that the nut does not fall into the “normal” category of nut allergy families. If you have an allergy to nuts, I would advise talking to your allergist prior to using a product that contains shea butter.

Did you know that shea butter, when applied directly to the skin, can provide a light ultraviolet protection, sometimes as high as SPF6? Do not count on it as an ultimate natural sun protection product, as the SPF value does vary.

As promised, I will be following up with an ingredient article on palm oil. It is taking a bit more research, but it is on the way.

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