You’ve probably seen it for sale somewhere, advertised as “ivory” Shea butter. You also probably got the impression that there was something special about it because it was “ivory”. But what, exactly, was that something special? Is Shea butter labeled as “ivory” more beneficial or special somehow from Shea butter labeled otherwise? And what about that deeply yellow pigmented Shea butter that’s also available? In today’s blog we’ll cover all these questions and set the record straight about “ivory” Shea, as well as the other bright yellow stuff.
While it might be more exciting to hear that there really is such a thing as ivory Shea butter and that it’s special and different from other Shea butters, the reality is that that just isn’t true. Shea butter has a color palette that spans different shades of off white depending on the region the Shea trees grew, as well as the specific tree the Shea nuts came from. Shea butter has a very natural variety in its coloring and even texture that doesn’t necessarily mean very much about the therapeutic properties of the Shea itself.
While a Shea butter product that’s been advertised and labeled as “ivory” is not lying, the ivory coloring of the Shea butter does not indicate any kind of special therapeutic benefits inherent to that batch of Shea butter. In this case, someone may want or prefer a lighter colored Shea butter if they are making homemade Shea butter skincare products, but the benefits of this lighter color are purely aesthetic.
You might have also seen the brightly colored yellow Shea butter that’s available to buy and wondered what made that kind of Shea butter special. While Shea butter does have shade differentiations as mentioned earlier, a Shea butter that is a deep, almost mustard yellow color has actually been altered with plant pigments to get there. Many people like the bright color of this butter and it’s why they started doing it in the first place, but again, there is no chemical advantage to having a bright yellow Shea butter. The effects are purely visual.
If you would prefer your Shea butter to be a certain color then either one of these options might be right for you. Just remember that color variations of Shea butter are dependent on region and the tree, and do not necessarily indicate how effective the Shea butter will be for skincare.