With so many different brands of Shea butter on the market it can feel a little daunting when faced with the decision of deciding which one is the best for you. Though each brand will have their own logo, packaging and source, what sets one Shea butter apart from another comes down to where it was sourced and how it was processed.
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One of the most important things to be aware of when looking out for a high quality Shea butter is whether or not it is raw. If you want the most bang for your buck then choosing a raw and unrefined Shea butter is definitely what you want to do. Heating Shea butter up past a certain point and putting it through the process of refinement strips out many of the therapeutic components that are naturally present in the Shea butter. By refraining from refining the Shea butter and thus keeping all of the skin healing properties present and whole, you are able to reap all the benefits possible from using that Shea butter.
Another important part of making sure your Shea butter is of a high quality is the source. You want to choose a Shea butter source that is ethical, fair trade and environmentally friendly. For us, that looks like sourcing our raw African Shea butter from a wonderful women's cooperative in Ghana that uses traditional methods to minimally process the Shea butter and harvests the Shea nuts from wild growing Shea trees in the Mole National Forest. There, the Shea trees contribute to the overall health of the local ecosystem and prevent soil erosion as well as providing a sustainable source of income for the women who are part of the co-op. If you can't find any, or enough, information about the source of any one particular Shea butter, then don't buy it.
A high quality Shea butter does not go bad easily and does not have a chemical smell. If a Shea butter does have a plastic-like or otherwise chemical type of odor, chances are it has been treated with some kind of deodorizer or otherwise refined—which is not good. A high quality Shea butter will have a mild scent that is a bit earthy or nutty, but never plastic or chemical-like.
You can also tell if a Shea butter is high quality by how your skin reacts to it. Truly raw, unrefined and high quality Shea butter will have an almost instant soothing, protective and anti inflammatory effect on the skin. If you fail to experience any of these benefits from your Shea butter, then chances are it is not very high quality. While everybody's skin is different, all skin types can benefit from regular high quality raw African Shea butter use. If yours doesn't, there's something not right with the Shea you've got.
Picking a truly high quality Shea butter doesn't have to be hard or confusing. As long as you stick to raw, unrefined, ethical, sustainable Shea butter with transparency about its source, you will be fine. Remember to pay attention to how your skin responds and that there is no chemical odor coming from your Shea butter. Follow these simple guidelines and you'll be sure to pick the best and highest quality Shea butter every time.