African Shea Butter, the Super Ingredient for Glowing Skin

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African Shea Butter

Shea butter is an African super ingredient that can help you achieve smooth, glowing skin this season. As a popular natural ingredient used in the cosmetic industry, numerous top brands such as The Body Shop and French cosmetic company L’occitane use shea butter as a hero ingredient in many of their products.

Although a highly sought-after natural ingredient in many cosmetic formulations, it is also a fantastic single ingredient skin moisturizer. Meaning, it can be used on its own without the adding of extra cosmetic ingredients. In fact, raw shea butter has been used as a skin moisturizer in many parts of Africa for centuries. Not only is shea butter good for the skin, it is versatile and is perfect for the hair as well.

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What are the benefits of African shea butter and how is it made?

Shea butter is a vegetable fat extracted from the kernels of the nuts of the shea tree which grows mainly in West and East Africa. The nuts are dried, crushed, roasted, milled, and hand-kneaded, and boiled to extract the butter.

Shea butter is packed with many skin-loving nutrients. It is rich in essential fatty acids such as oleic, palmetic, linoleic, arachidic, triglycerides, cetyl esters, and vitamins A, E, and F.

For example, vitamins A and E has been shown to promote anti-oxidant activity which protects the skin from free radicals that can lead to premature aging and dull-looking skin while the essential fatty acids help balance the oils on your skin and reduce inflammation.

For people with dry skin, shea butter is an excellent natural remedy. Shea butter’s emollient properties help trap moisture in the skin while soothing and smoothing dry, cracked, and flaky skin.

Tips for choosing African shea butter

There are two types of shea butter on the market. Unrefined and refined shea butter. Unrefined shea butter is the types that has not undergone any alteration. The butter is extracted naturally using traditional extraction methods and retains all of its nourishing and healing properties. It typically has an ivory, beige, or cream colour, with a nutty or smoky aroma.

Refined shea butter on the other hand has been chemically altered to remove the natural aroma of the butter, is white in colour, and has lost the majority of its healing and nourishing properties. If you are seeking to obtain the majority of shea butter’s nutritional benefits, then unrefined shea butter is your best bet!

How to use African shea butter

As previously stated, raw, unrefined shea butter can be used on its own as a single ingredient moisturizer. It is also commonly mixed with other natural ingredients such as coconut oil, argan oil, almond oil and/or essential oils. Scoop a small amount from the container and rub over the skin or dry, flaky areas.

Shea butter melts usually melts at body temperature and is easily absorbed into the skin. It is also commonly whipped into a fluffy decadent body butter, souffle, or melted into a salve. Making your own DIY body butter is always simple, fun, and empowering! Below is a simple body butter recipe using raw, unrefined shea butter that you can easily make from the comfort of your home. The recipe is great for winter skin care and can be used as a body or hand moisturizer.

Simple DIY shea body butter recipe

Note: This recipe is from Botanical Soaps: A modern guide to making your own soaps, shampoos bars, and other beauty essentials by Marta Tarallo (2021). The recipe formula uses essential oils, which may be irritating for some. Therefore, it is highly recommend that you do a patch test before adding them to your mixture. Also, always get your high-quality essential oils from reputable manufacturers and follow their instructions for use.


  • 15 g raw, unrefined shea butter
  • 15 g virgin coconut oil
  • Optional: ½ teaspoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch (to reduce greasiness)
  • 1 drop vitamin E and 2-3 drops essential oil of your choice.


  • Weigh out the shea butter and melt it slowly in a bain-marie.
  • Once melted and not too hot add the coconut oil.
  • Allow the mixture to cool down and harden in the fridge (it usually takes about 30 minutes in the fridge or 15 minutes in the freezer). The mixture should not be rock solid, it needs to be semi-solid.
  • Once it is semi-solid, remove it from the fridge. At this point, you can add the optional ingredients. Half a teaspoon of arrowroot powder will make the body butter less greasy. You can also add 2-3 drops of essential oils of your choice.
  • Once all the ingredients are combined, whip everything together to a soft and fluffy consistency. It should take about 5-10 minutes to obtain a light, fluffy and soft cream-like consistency.
  • Once you’ve reached your desired consistency, transfer into a clean jar, and voila!

Safety tips: This body butter does not contain water and hence a preservative (vitamin E) is not required, but encouraged as it helps slow down the oxidation process and preserves the integrity of your body butter! There are other places you can find some really good shea butter recipes from. You can check for books and community classes at your local library or browse BrambleBerry’s website.

Pogbanu Shea Butter

If you are looking for where to purchase your own African shea butter, Pogbanu Shea is a great Canadian supplier for both retail and wholesale. Now that you know the numerous benefits of this African super-ingredient, hopefully you will take some time to enjoy its divine goodness during these dry winter months! You’ll thank us later.

Selina Delimini is the Founder of Pogbanu Shea, a purpose-driven business founded to create sustainable impact and community development in the lives of women in Northern Ghana. As a global supplier for the cosmetic and hair care industries in Canada, Pogbanu Shea sources the highest grade of shea butter for all needs, ranging from skin care to hair care.

Connect with Selina Delimini online: Website | Instagram | Facebook LinkedIn

Have you ever used shea butter as a moisturizer before and did it improve your skin’s texture and glow?

Jamila Kyari
I’m a writer who focuses on African fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. Subscribe to my newsletter and stay updated on the latest trends!
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