Shea Butter: you've seen it on labels and in the ‘health and beauty’ aisle in the big box stores-- Soaps, Lotions, Beard Butters, Hair Creams, Beard Balms, Body Butters, etc. Everything seems to have Shea Butter!
Even at Whiskey ’N Hardtack, it's a star ingredient in most of our soaps, beard butters, and even our beard oils. So, why does it seem like it’s all over, and why should you look for Shea Butter when you’re selecting a beard or body product?
We’ll break it down for you here on the blog.
What is Shea Butter, Anyway?
Shea Butter is actually the fat from seeds of a tree-grown fruit (a sweet fruit, and totally edible). These seeds (often called ’shea nuts’) grow on trees that can take up to 50 years to mature, making it a really precious resource from a time-investment standpoint.
The seeds are harvested, roasted and processed by small groups of women in many countries in West Africa. Shea harvest and production is actually a large part of what supports small-scale family farmers, and is a primary source of income for many villages.
To get to the final product we know as shea butter, the fruits are collected, boiled, cooled, and then shelled by hand. After shelling, the seeds inside are cracked, roasted, and beaten with water to release their rich, fatty goodness. Those fats are then boiled again, skimmed, and then cooled which creates a raw form of Shea Butter that is very golden in color, and has a natural smoky odor.
Open air markets throughout Western Africa feature hundreds of women with baskets full of this raw, natural product- most buyers use it for everything from cooking to body & hair care.
Shea can be used in this raw form, or further purified and filtered into the more “cosmetic grade” Shea used in most body products on store shelves. And, while it’s technically natural enough to eat, we really want to stress that our beard products are for external use only.
So, Why Use Shea In Beard Products?
The fatty acids in shea butter are nearly a perfect balance of monounsaturated and saturated fats. Which means it has both the ability to penetrate and nourish your skin and hair, while also helping to seal it off from the bad stuff in our environments (drying chemicals, wind, sun, cold, etc).
When used in a quality beard butter or beard balm, shea butter creates this amazing protective, nourishing combo for your skin and beard hairs. As a bonus, it’s actually very non comedogenic, meaning there’s a very low chance of getting clogged pores from using it on your face (and your body). Ideal for helping rid yourself of dreaded beardruff, and flakey skin spots.
Shea butter is also naturally high in Vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that not only helps prolong the shelf life of the products it’s in, but also helps to add some extra nourishment and elasticity for your skin and hair.
What Does Shea Butter Do For Bar Soap?
That’s right— Shea butter also brings its powerhouse profile to natural soap, not just leave-on beard & body products. Not only does it work to make handmade bar soap a lot harder, but its fatty acid profile contains many “unsaponifiables” that help make bars less harsh on the skin. Unsaponifiables are the natural skin-loving fatty acids that do not convert to soap during the soap making process, and remain behind to help nourish the skin while you’re using the soap.
In fact, between the high, natural glycerin content of our handmade soap bars, and the shea butter content, several of our customers have told us they often find they no longer need to use extra moisturizers after a shower! Some have even commented that their elbows and knees have never looked better.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit more about the fatty acid powerhouse that is Shea Butter, and why we enjoy using it in nearly all of our products.
Stay bearded, my friends— or should we say ‘Shea Bearded.’