Shea butter is an ivory-coloured natural fat extracted from the kernels of the African Shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa).
The shea tree grows naturally in the wild in the dry savannah belt of West Africa from Senegal in the west to Sudan in the east and onto the foothills of the Ethiopian highlands. It occurs in 21 countries across the African continent.
It is composed of triglycerides with oleic, stearic, linoleic and palmitic fatty acids. It is frequently used in the cosmetic industry as a skin conditioner and with its emollient properties, it makes an excellent moisturiser, particularly for those suffering from cracked and dry skin as well as eczema, psoriasis or other skin conditions. It helps to keep the skin soft, smooth and moisturised.
For West African women where the trees are found, Shea butter helps to protect their skin from the harsh and dry Harmattan, (Saharan winds). New-born babies are even coated and massaged in Shea butter to protect their delicate skin from the extreme climate.
As an anti-inflammatory balm, Shea butter accelerates wound healing, bruises and sprains. It is rich in Omega 3 fats which calm inflammation and contains antibacterial properties.
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