Shea Butter

Shea butter (/ˈʃiː/ or /ˈʃiː.ə/) is an off-white or ivory-colored fat extracted from the nut of the African shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa). Shea butter is a triglyceride (fat) derived mainly from stearic acid and oleic acid. It is widely used in cosmetics as a moisturizer, salve or lotion. Shea butter is edible and is used in food preparation in Africa. Occasionally, the chocolate industry uses shea butter mixed with other oils as a substitute for cocoa butter, although the taste is noticeably different.


Shea butter is mainly used in the cosmetics industry for skin- and hair-related products (lip gloss, skin moisturizer creams and emulsions, and hair conditioners for dry and brittle hair).[citation needed] It is also used by soap makers, typically in small amounts (5-7% of the oils in the recipe), because it has plenty of unsaponifiables.[citation needed]

In some African countries such as Benin, shea butter is used for cooking oil, as a waterproofing wax, for hairdressing, for candle-making, and as an ingredient in medicinal ointments. It is used by makers of traditional African percussion instruments to increase the durability of wood (such as carved djembe shells), dried calabash gourds, and leather tuning straps.[citation needed]