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Shea and its virtues for skin health

The virtues of shea butter

Thanks to its moisturizing and emollient properties, shea butter is a good weapon against skin flaking. It has long been the only cosmetic used by African women. This is why it is today a key ingredient in our Rich moisturizing and anti-itch cream.


What is shea?

Origins of Shea

Shea is a tree of the Vitellaria genus and the Sapotaceae family. It grows only in Africa, more particularly in the region of West Africa (Senegal, Guinea) to Central Africa (Mali, northern Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, northern Ghana, Togo and Benin then Nigeria)(1).

Shea has a lifespan of 300 years. It can reach up to 15 meters in height during its life, and its trunk can be up to 1 meter in diameter. The shea tree produces a fruit also called shea butter. From 15 years old and up to 100 years old, the shea tree produces annual fruiting of 20 kg. These are the fruits that are used in the famous preparation of shea butter.

Fruits, base of Shea butter

The fruit has a green appearance and can measure 4 to 8 cm in length. It consists of a pulp and a nut, also called a seed. It is in this seed that we will find the material which will be used to make shea butter. The seed consists of 50% fat. The pulp is edible. It is said to taste like a sweet avocado.

Flowering occurs during the dry season and lasts 2 months. The fruit is picked directly from the ground between mid-June and mid-September, during the wet season. The women quickly prepare the shea butter.

The production of shea butter and its virtues

Shea is mainly used in its best-known form: shea butter. The annual production of 20kg of shea fruit produces 1kg of shea butter.

The recovered almonds are crushed, heated, ground to be reduced into a paste with a yellowish appearance, similar to the butter we know: this is shea butter (2).


The benefits of shea against psoriasis

Shea butter: a renowned anti-inflammatory against skin diseases

There are currently no studies demonstrating the effects and benefits of shea butter on skin affected by psoriasis or eczema. However, according to numerous testimonies, shea butter has beneficial effects.

Indeed, psoriasis causes itching and irritation. Rich in vitamin E, shea butter has anti-inflammatory properties that accelerate healing (3). These virtues would help soothe irritation and itching. Some people are prone to allergies, so it is recommended to test on healthy skin before use. See also our article on infant skin.


Shea butter and its moisturizing properties on psoriatic skin

As mentioned previously, the shea seed is made up of 50% fat. Hydration of psoriatic skin is very important since it helps regulate keratinization and desquamation, maintain the integrity of the skin barrier and thus prevent new lesions. See our advice for choosing your psoriasis cream and our comparative article on the effectiveness of a cream versus an ointment.

The combination of Marula oil, apricot kernel oil and shea butter allows our Rich moisturizing and anti-itch cream to strengthen emollience on psoriasis plaques. Note that shea butter is also good for eczema and dry skin.

Shea butter care and its virtues against psoriasis

Shea butter is also renowned for its richness in vitamins. Vitamin A helps with skin regeneration and repairs damaged and very dry skin. Vitamin F, for its part, regulates the natural hydration of the skin, thus protecting it from external aggressions.

Refined VS Unrefined Shea Butter

However, not all “forms” of shea butter have the same virtues. Indeed, there are different methods of extracting shea butter (4) depending on the type of shea butter. The first is in its raw state, that is used directly after extraction and often done mechanically or by hand. It is the purest shea butter you can find, but also the richest. Its texture is yellowish, its odor may seem a little strong and there may be some residue left.

Shea Butter

Another method for obtaining quality shea butter is the so-called cold pressing method. It consists of grinding the shea almonds in a press, at a temperature of less than 80°. It is a mechanical method: it does not allow all of the butter present in the almond to be extracted. This method is not artisanal like the previous one, but it allows the active ingredients of the butter to be preserved.

Finally, to make it more attractive, and also to increase its production, there is refined shea butter: this can be recovered using a solvent, most of the time chemical. The result is a white, odorless shea butter, more stable than raw butter but nevertheless much less rich: the virtues would be reduced by 50% to 80%!


The benefits of the shea tree on the body

Aside from its butter, the shea tree has many other uses. The leaves of the shea tree are used for their medicinal properties and treat gastric problems such as stomach aches and diarrhea. This use is important because digestive and intestinal disorders have a real impact on skin problems.

Sometimes overloaded or tired, the digestive system and the liver are no longer able to carry out their work correctly and the toxins that they are unable to eliminate can appear directly on the epidermis. The roots of the shea tree also treat gastric problems. To effectively eliminate toxins and give your body a boost, discover our Detox and Zen capsules.



(1) Shea, www.grazia.fr
(2) Manufacturing of shea butter, www.beurredekaritebio.com

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