Refined Shea Butter vs Unrefined Shea Butter
History of Shea Butter
The common name of shea butter is shísu (lit. “shea tree”) in the Bambara language of Mali. The tree is called ghariti in the Wolof language of Senegal, which is the origin of the French name of the tree and the butter, karité.
The shea tree grows naturally in the wild in the dry savannah belt of West Africa from Senegal in the west to Sudan in the east, and onto the foothills of the Ethiopian highlands.
In the ancient time shea butter was used for a variety of things especially beauty purposes. It’s said that use of shea butter could date back to ancient Egypt where Cleopatra used shea butter for skin and hair care which was carried in large clay pots to her.
The country from which Shea first originated is not well known due to vegetation changes and ongoing semi-domestication. In 2016, excavations at the well-preserved archaeological site at Kirikongo in western Burkina Faso by University of Oregon anthropologists turned up fragments of shea nut shells used in households, found to date back as far as 100 CE.
The earliest shea butter commerce can be tracked in ancient Egyptian trade during the reign of King Merenre, approximately 4300 years ago, We can also track the trade in shea butter through records taken by explorers Ibn Battuta, during his 1352–1353 travels and Mungo Park recorded its widespread trade as he tracked the Niger River 1795–1797.
The people from northern Nigeria used shea butter to cook their food by mixing it with palm oil. This means that apart from using shea butter topically it can be ingested as well.
Types of Shea Butter
There are essentially two types of shea butter
- Unrefined Shea Butter (also known as raw shea butter)
- Refined Shea Butter (also known as pure shea butter)
Shea butter is mainly used in the cosmetics industry for skin- and hair-related products (lip gloss, lip stick, skin moisturizer creams and emulsions, and hair conditioners for dry and brittle hair). It is also used by soap makers and massage oil manufacturers, typically in small amounts, because it has plenty of unsaponifiables, and higher amounts result in a softer soap that has less cleaning ability. Shea butter is great for skin, face, stretch marks and more.
What is Unrefined Shea Butter?
Unrefined shea butter is ivory to light yellowish in colour and has a natural odour that could be described as somewhat smoky or nutty. The unrefined shea butter is also said to have a higher concentration of antioxidants as compared to refined shea butter. Products that contain unrefined shea butter are marketed for natural UV protection and being an excellent moisturiser.
Benefits of using unrefined shea?
Unrefined shea butter is generally preferred for uses related to natural care. In its raw form, unrefined shea butter contains a lot of properties which make it the better kind of shea butter for skin conditions.
When not to use unrefined shea?
Unrefined shea butter has some drawbacks given that it does not last as long as refined shea butter and the aroma or odour (depending on whether you are a fan) can be a deterrent when considered for regular use. The potential for graininess in the finished product is much higher with unrefined shea butter.
What is Refined Shea Butter?
Refined shea butter is further processed from raw shea butter. This refining process results in a refined shea butter that is white in colour and has no odour.
Benefits of using refined shea
Store bought mass production cosmetic or personal care products are generally made from refined shea butter thanks to the extended shelf life that processing provides. Refined shea butter is easier to work with given the fact that it does not get grainy when reheated unlike unrefined shea butter.
Refined shea butter is white and doesn’t have an aroma, which some prefer or wishes to add fragrances or color. If you want to use shea butter in the food industry, it is refined in most cases.
When not to use refined shea?
If you are marketing your handcrafts as all natural unprocessed, you would use unrefined shea butter over refined.
Refined Shea Butter vs Unrefined Shea Butter
Refined shea butter and unrefined shea butter looks relatively similar, but in the labelling they are different. Unrefined shea butter would state ‘unrefined and pure’ while refined shea butter would state ‘pure and natural’.
Unrefined shea butter retains more skin care benefits and vitamins but have a scent and color can vary. Refined shea butter is white and doesn’t have a fragrance but has less potential for graininess making it easier for production needs.
Use of either refined or unrefined shea is dependent on your personal preference or production needs.
Where to Buy Refined and Unrefined Shea Butter in Singapore?
Looking for the best shea butter in Singapore? Singapore Soap is a wholesale bulk supplier of refined shea butter and unrefined shea butter in Singapore. Check out our top quality 100% pure organic raw unrefined shea butter and 100% pure refined shea butter here! Feel free to contact us here or at 9483 2196 for bulk quantities.