Know Your Shea

Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned. ~Mark Twain

Shea Nuts| Photo by WhiteAfrican

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce to you, my newest and best friend, the Shea nut. She is very happy to meet you and would like you to friend her on Facebook.

Shea and I met in a crowded coffee house one day- I was lamenting my break-up with the Breve (only skim milk for me now :-(  ), and she was sorrowful over her public representation- she felt bamboozled after decades of being refined and bleached and “prettied up” for public consumption… She knew her true value, and wished that people could accept her in her authentic state, rustic scent and all, and experience her for who she can really be. Being a woman who feels her feelings deeply, I could sympathize with her. And so, that day, Shea and I left the coffee house hand-in-hand, determined to reinstate Shea as the moisturizing mogul that she was created to be.

So, History (according to raw, unrefined shea butter) first:

Karite Tree| Photo by Marco Schmidt, via Wikimedia Commons

 

The shea nut comes from a tree in Western and Central Africa, called the Karite tree (Also rightfully named, “The Tree of Life"). It is harvested traditionally by women, and very similarly converted to oil like the cocoa nut- by crushing and grinding the nut.

The oil that is collected is very gently heated and impurities strained until only the prized shea oil is left. After it cools completely, it hardens to a firmness like butter, all medicinal and nutritional benefits in tact, and is shipped to the likes of me :-)

Every part of the nut is consumed, either for cooking, eating, or body care, and provides economic stimulation for the tribes who harvest it. It is a very hospitable nut, the shea.

The shea butter that Savvy Bohème purchases comes from an organization in Africa, in Burkina Faso, using traditional artisan processing methods. In this instance, women harvest the shea, and they receive a premium wage for their time and efforts, and all purchases allow the tribes to enjoy economic stability and sustainability.

The Beauty of Shea

Now…about the true value of Shea…
she is so excited for me to tell you this….
In her true form, raw and unrefined, shea butter has incredible nourishing properties.
 

    To begin with, shea butter has saponifiable and nonsaponifiable fractions (that’s nerd-speak for “soap-making” properties). The “saponifiable” fractions cause shea butter to be extremely moisturizing, packed full of the same type of oils that the body naturally secretes; but the “nonsaponifiable” fractions are where we want to focus your attention.

In these fractions are where Shea’s goodies lie-all of her medicinal properties are stored within these lipids, and they are very high (from 7 to upwards of 16 percent, as opposed to, for example, the very nourishing avocado oil’s 2 to 6 percent). The strength of these lipids aid in the following ways:

  • Sunburn relief
  • Eczema
  • Stretch marks (Anti-elastase properties help reduce stretch marks during pregnancy)
  • Extremely dry, cracked skin
  • Frost bite
  • Skin discoloration
  • Razor burn
  • Small cuts
  • Blemishes
  • Wrinkles and fine lines
  • Arthritis (contains stigmasterol- an aid in relief of swelling and arthritis)
  • Diaper rash
  • Anti-aging

It contains natural preservatives, which give it a good, long shelf life (up to 2 years when left uncontaminated), as well as anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Another amazing note is that shea butter contains cinnamic acid, which is a natural sunscreen that provides a measure of protection from UV rays. Isn’t she so clever?

Each of these amazing benefits of shea is only found in her unrefined state, and sadly, most shea products are refined...in fact, almost all in the western world are. And when they are refined, they are stripped of their “nonsaponifiable” fractions… the healing fractions.

Is it any wonder the world has not given Shea the respect that she deserves?

But there is hope for her yet… Savvy Bohème only uses unrefined, organic, fair trade shea butter (and a LOT of it, at that!) to produce the highest quality shea butter products so that you get to experience my friend Shea in her most authentic form.

I just KNOW that you’re gonna love her.

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