6 reasons you’ll be pleased to find unrefined shea butter in your skin care products

At Mokosh, one of our key ingredients is certified organic, unrefined shea butter, which is extracted from the fruit of a tree native to savannah Africa, Vitellaria paradoxa, formerly Butyrospermum parkii. We use it in all our Face and Body creams, our Pure Body Balm, 2 of our Lip Balms, and our 3 Shea and Cocoa Butter soaps.

Mokosh is one of a handful of brands using unrefined shea butter that is extracted using traditional, non-chemical methods. Refined shea butter is more popular in skin care because it is pure white and virtually odourless, allowing finer control over the colour and fragrance of the final product.

Unfortunately, although the refining process permits a pure white cream, it also removes varying amounts of the healing properties present in the unsaponifiable fraction of shea butter, like vitamin E (1), antioxidants (2), and possibly other medicinal fractions. What’s more, refining is frequently carried out using potentially harmful solvents such as hexane, a petroleum derivative. Hexane is a known human toxin (3), an air pollutant of concern in industrialised areas (4), and may also contaminate the product it was designed to refine.

Here is why we think our unrefined, nutrient-rich shea butter should be a regular part of your skin care routine:

1. Shea butter is a superb moisturiser, performing better than mineral oil at preventing water loss from the skin (5), and better than Vaseline at helping improve the symptoms of eczema (6).

2. A number of studies have shown that shea butter applied to the skin either alone or as a 15% mixture, has anti-aging activity (7), attributed to the non-saponifiable fraction, which is best retained in unrefined shea butter. The effect is considered to come from the anti-protease activity of triterpenes which may inhibit the breakdown of collagen and elastin in the skin.

3. Shea butter has well documented anti- inflammatory effects which are considered to be due to the effects of compounds in the non-saponifiable fraction (7). This means that shea butter will help calm itchy, irritated skin, reducing skin inflammation from almost any cause.

4. Allergies to shea butter are extremely rare, even though it is a nut butter. In fact its anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce allergic responses in the skin (7).

5. Shea trees take more than 40 years to mature, and live for around 200 years. Because of their slow life-cycle, there are no shea plantations, and no insecticides, herbicides or fertilisers are used in production of shea butter. By supporting the shea butter industry, these trees will be protected, provide a living for local populations, and help protect the delicate savannah ecosystem (8).

6. At Mokosh our shea butter is Fair Trade certified, and produced by a cooperative of predominantly female workers. Fair Trade certification means workers are paid a fair price, have good working conditions, use sustainable environmental practices, and are also paid a Fair Trade premium which is used to fund environmental and community projects.

pouring creams

  1. http://mak.ac.ug/documents/Makfiles/theses/Omujal_Francis.pdf),
  2. Maranz, S., Z. Wiesman and N. Garti. 2003. Phenolic constituents of shea (Vitellaria paradoxa) kernels. J Agric Food Chem 51: 6268-6273
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hexane
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1917064
  5. Bird K (2009) Moisturising power of Shea butter highlighted by scientific Cosmetics. Formulation & Science
  6. Belibi SE, Stechschulte D, Olson N (2009) The Use of Shea Butter as an Emollient for Eczema. JJACI 123: S41
  7. http://omicsonline.org/open-access/effects-of-oral-and-topical-use-of-the-oil-from-the-nut-of-vitellaria-paradoxa-2155-9600.1000327.pdf
  8. http://www.sheanetworkghana.org/#!about-shea/c1nuf