The main active ingredient in all our home spa products is Shea butter. Shea butter, also known as Karite butter or Butyrospermum parkii, is a cream-coloured fatty substance made from the nuts of karite nut trees that grow in the savannah regions of West and Central Africa. Karite trees, or shea trees, are not cultivated. They grow only in the wild, and can take up to 50 years to mature and they live up to 300 years. It produces its first fruit (which resemble large plums) when it is about 20 years old and reaches its full production when the tree is about 45 years old. It produces nuts for up to 200 years after reaching maturity. In most parts of West Africa, destruction of the shea tree is prohibited because this little nut provides a valuable source of food, “medicine”, and income for the population. In fact, shea butter is sometimes referred to as “women’s gold” in Africa, because so many women are employed in the production of shea butter.
Why is shea butter such a good ingredient to use? Western countries are just beginning to recognize the considerable health and beauty benefits of shea butter, something Africans have known for thousands of years. Shea butter has been used to help heal burns, sores, scars, dermatitis, psoriasis, dandruff, and stretch marks. It may also help diminish wrinkles by moisturizing the skin, promoting cell renewal, and increasing circulation. Shea butter also contains cinnamic acid, a substance that helps protect the skin from harmful UV rays.
Shea butter is a particularly effective moisturizer because it contains so many fatty acids, which are needed to retain skin moisture and elasticity. The moisturizers in Shea butter are the same as the moisturizers produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin and it is therefore no wonder Shea butter is such a superior moisturizer. Its soft, butter-like texture melts readily into the skin without leaving a greasy feel.
Shea butter protects the skin from both environmental and free-radical damage. It contains vitamins A and E, and has demonstrated both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.