Shea Butter: The S.W. Basics Golden Child
In her book Skin Cleanse, our founder Adina Grigore remarks, “I believe that shea butter is the single greatest skin-care ingredient. It changed my life, and it is essentially the reason I started S.W. Basics.” Now, Adina is not one for hyperbole, so you’ve got to wonder: What is it about shea butter that’s so darn awesome?
Shea butter is one of nature’s most potent hydrators, rich in skin-nourishing vitamins A, C, and E. These antioxidants work in tandem to help moisturize the skin, smooth fine lines and wrinkles, and even stimulate collagen production. It’s a valuable ingredient for treating pesky skin ailments like dermatitis, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties (a recent study even showed that it was an effective treatment for eczema). Fun fact: Shea butter also contains as a natural SPF of 6 – while we wouldn’t recommend using it in lieu of sunscreen, it does help protect the skin from ultraviolent radiation.
Hopefully by now we’ve convinced you that shea butter is worthy of our adoration, so let’s discuss the backstory of this hero ingredient. Shea butter is derived from the nuts of the African shea tree. The production process of pure, unrefined shea butter is a lengthy, multi-step one and is usually done by women. It involves hand-collecting the nuts and separating them from their shells, then crushing, roasting, and grinding them into a paste that’s eventually a golden, buttery-smooth cream. (FYI: Shea butter is solid at room temperature and liquid when warm, so don’t be alarmed if you see it shift consistencies.)
Given the complexity of production (and the increasing popularity of shea butter), it’s a process that can easily be manipulated in the wrong hands. This is why sourcing is so, so important. We acquire our organic, wild-harvested shea butter from a Fair Trade women’s cooperative in Northern Ghana to ensure we’re getting a quality product and we’re not exploiting the women who work hard to create it. You’ll probably be surprised by how rich and thick real shea butter is. In part, that’s because a lot of the “shea butter” out on the market has been diluted with filler ingredients. While the other stuff might feel user-friendlier, take our word for it: You want the unrefined, raw, preferably organic stuff. It’s this shea butter that is loaded in all of those skin-saving antioxidants we discussed earlier.
Ready to shop (or browse)? For shea newbies, we recommend testing out our best-selling Cream, it’s 60% shea butter and really easy to apply. If you’re looking to step up your game, give our DIY Skincare Essentials Shea Butter a try – it’s 100% pure shea, so experiment with adding it into other oils or melting it down to use on its own. Whatever path you choose, a life-changing experience awaits.*
*Also not hyperbole. Swear. 😉