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Pure shea butter is a multipurpose product that’s been used to protect and nourish skin and hair by African women for centuries. Now it’s revolutionizing the natural beauty business.

I’ll admit this: I knew next to nothing about shea butter before today, except that I’ve seen it in the ingredient lists for multiple natural and organic beauty products, including my new Rahua conditioner. Now I know more.
It is actually thanks to Body Shop that I started exploring this subject, as they’ve kindly sent me some samples of their shea butter products – including a soon-to-launch Community Trade Shea Butter, which is 100% natural and vegan, and made by women in Ghana.

So today I tried it out sitting by my desk at the office, rubbing some onto my arms, hands and lips. The pure shea butter is solid until you put it on the skin, where it melts easily and is instantly absorbed. My lips can’t seem to get enough (winter…), and my hands feel very fantastic, but my arms still have a slightly ‘fatty’ surface after a couple of hours. But then again, this product is really fat, which is the main reason why it’s so great. It’s also completely unscented and tastes like, well, vegetable fat – if that’s a flavor? (Yes, I did taste it before reading ‘unfit for consumption’ on the back of the packaging. So?).

Freshly moisturized – inside out – I started reading up on the many benefits of shea butter, also known as Beurre de karité, or Butyrospermum parkii, which is how you would know it from the back of your beauty products. Shea butter is extracted from the nuts of the shea tree, which grows wildly in the savannah belt from West to East Africa, and varies in color (ivory or white) and consistency (hard or soft) depending on the region and village where it was made.

Pure shea butter is a multipurpose product that can be used for the entire body – hair, scalp, face, nails, lips, heels and all – and is also great as a base or humectant if you’re into making your own beauty products. The high content of fatty acids, naturally occurring vitamins like A, E and F, and anti-inflammatory properties, make shea butter one of the most moisturizing and nourishing things you can put on your skin.

The rich fats in the shea butter work protectively against weather and wind, and can be used by people (children too) with extreme dryness, skin irritation, eczema, sun burns, stretch marks, mosquito bites, sensitive skin, and psoriasis. It’s also said to be naturally UV-protective (we’d add a proper sunscreen too though), and protects the muscles before and after training. But most importantly, it makes the skin soft, smooth and glowy, which is the ultimate goal in any case, right?

Shop the Shea Butters

1. Shea Butter, Liha/Content Beauty. 2. Body Balm Shea Butter Pure, Urtekram/Naturligt Snygg. 3. Shea Butter, Body Shop. In stores from February 19.

4. Pure Shea Butter, Gröna Gredelina. 5. Original Raw Shea Butter, Akoma/Jordklok. 6. Pure Shea Butter Organic Certified, L’occitane/Åhlens.

7. Shea Butter Paradoxia, Organic Makers. 8. Pure Shea Butter, Zoya Goes Pretty/Jordklok. 9. 016 Natural Shea Butter, L:a Bruket.

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