Pure, unrefined, unscented, fair trade, and 100% natural, our shea butter has been carefully handcrafted using centuries old techniques that maximize the moisturizing and protective properties of shea butter.
Shea butter has been a staple of African skin care for millennia. Shea butter's unique fatty acid profile and high content of vitamins E and A contribute to its protective and hydrating properties.
Our handcrafted shea butter is unrefined for maximum protection and hydration, has not been altered in any way and contains no added chemicals, preservatives or dyes. Unscented for sensitive skin.
Warm small amount of handcrafted shea butter in palm and apply to skin or hair as desired. Allow few moments for shea butter to absorb. Handcrafted shea butter may also be used for massage. Keep unused shea butter in cool and dark location.
Our Two CentsA rich, raw, unrefined shea butter full of natural nutrients. Handcrafted from wild harvested shea nuts by the woman of Togo using indigenous knowledge and practices that have been used for generations -- we consider this shea butter to be better than certified organic (which is often cost prohibitive).
Unscented unrefined shea butter has a mild almost nutty fragrance.
Suitable for use on delicate baby skin.
Comes packed in an attractive glass jar.
Shea butter is extremely versatile and can be used on the whole body including the hair and lips and also provides natural sun protection. Use for scars, dark spots, blemishes, stretch marks, and skin discolorations. We’ve also found shea butter excellent for cuts, scrapes, and grazes. However, we prefer neem oil for skin that’s red, inflamed, or itchy.
Use shae butter as a natural massage oil, makeup remover, hand/foot soak, and aftershave.
Additional Product Information
Traditionally handcrafting Shea butter is a long process involving several critical steps. Alaffia Handcrafted Shea butter is made with care by our cooperative members in Togo, West Africa. Women in our communities have been extracting Shea butter in this manner for generations. To see the process of handcrafting shea butter in central Togo, view the slide show below.
Shea trees grow wild throughout the savannas of central and northern Togo.
Shea leaves have a very distinctive shape and are very easily recognized. Shea trees never lose their leaves all at once, and so are a welcome source of shade during the dry season.
Shea trees are recognized by their thick, almost black bark. They are very resistant to the fires, and many shea trees bear fire scars from many dry season fires.
Step 1. Shea fruits ripen on wild shea trees scattered throughout the savannas of central and northern Togo. When the fruits are ripe, they fall to the ground.
Harvesting ripe shea fruits is back breaking labor perfomed by women, children and the elderly. Often, the collected fruits are carried on the head back to villages and towns, a distance of up to 15 kilometers (8 miles) or more.
Shea nuts freshly gathered from under the shea trees. The fruit has usually dried up and fallen off before the nuts are gathered.
Shea nuts are spread to dry in the sun after they have been steamed slightly to loosen the kernel from the shell.
The shells are removed from the dried shea nuts. Each shea nut is cracked by hand to extract the kernel. This laborious work is usually done by older women and children. After this, the shea kernels are spread to dry once more before they are washed and stored.
Upon their arrival at our Sokode shea butter center, the shea kernels are washed clean of dust and debris with clean, potable water.
The washed shea kernels are spread to dry in the sun once more before they are stored in our warehouses.
The washed and dried shea kernels are carefully inspected before being placed in sacks to be stored in our warehouses. Any kernels showing signs of mold or other decay are removed.
Shea kernels are carefully selected and measured for the days production.
The traditional method of crushing the shea nuts with a mortar and pestle.
The crushed shea nuts are grilled slightly to decrease their moisture content.
In our Sokode center, we use improved, energy efficient stoves to grill the crushed shea nuts. These stoves use far less wood than the traditional system by concentrating and holding in the heat.
After the moisture content of the crushed shea nuts is reduced to the desired level, they are crushed further to a fine powder or paste with a modified corn mill or by hand with a mortar and pestle.
A day's worth of shea nut powder at our Sokode center.
The shea powder or paste is mixed with clean, potable water. This mixture is whipped by hand in a process called kneading. Kneading initiates the separation of oil from the other components.
In our Sokode center, women knead the shea mixture in groups.
A closeup of the kneading process. The shea nut mixture becomes progessively whiter until it reaches a critical stage. In this picture, the mixture is just about ready for the next step.
When warm water is added to the kneaded shea nut mixture, the oil spontaneously separates from the water and non-oil components and rises to the surface.
The shea fats are washed several times with clean, clear water. It is then heated to remove all the water from the oil.
The cooled oil is stirred in a precise manner to begin the crystallization process. When the oil begins to solidify into butter it is poured into containers and left to crystallize further. The stirring process is crucial in making a creamy shea butter, as it helps the crystals align as the butter solidifies.
The Final Product: Traditionally crafted, pure and natural shea butter from the Agbanga Karite Group in central Togo
A group of our shea butter artisans in Sokode, Togo.
Shea Butter is the oil from the nuts of wild Shea trees (Vitellaria paradoxa) scattered throughout the wooded savanna of West and Central Africa. Shea Butter has been used for centuries in Africa and is completely enmeshed within the history and culture of the West African savanna. Shea Butter is mentioned in almost all African historical documents, including a reference as early as Cleopatra's Egypt, which mentions caravans bearing clay jars of Shea Butter for cosmetic use. Funeral beds of kings were carved in the wood of old Shea Trees, and Shea Butter has always been a staple of African pharmacology.
Indigenous Knowledge for Skin Care:
Shea Butter has been used for centuries in Africa as a decongestant, an anti-inflammatory for sprains and arthritis, healing salve, lotion for hair and skin care, and cooking oil. However, the protective and emollient properties of Shea Butter are most valued for skin care. In recent clinical trials, Shea Butter was found to help to protect skin against climate and UV aggressions, prevent wrinkle formation, soothe irritated and chapped skin, and moisturize the epidermis. Shea Butter also enhances cell regeneration and capillary circulation, which helps prevent and minimize stretch marks, inflammations, and scarring.
Handcrafted & unrefined Shea Butter contains the maximum amount of healing and moisturizing properties. Chemically extracted and refined Shea Butter is white and odorless and has reduced beneficial properties.
Try Shea Butter on these conditions:
- Dry Skin
- Hair care
- Stretch marks
- Chapped lips
- Sun damage
- Cracked and dry heels or elbows
- Small wounds and scrapes
- Diaper rash (prevention and relief)
- Insect bites & stings
- Muscle fatigue, aches & tension
- Pets (skin infections, dry skin & coats)
How to use Shea Butter:
For direct application to the skin, take a small amount in the palm of your hand. Rub your hands together to warm up the butter until it is smooth and liquid. Then apply to your skin. If you are concerned about an oily feeling, use only a small amount or apply the Shea Butter before going to bed. Shea Butter absorbs quickly into the skin, but there will be a few minutes that it feels oily. Shea Butter can also be applied to your hair. Some people apply it before washing to protect the hair from harsh shampoos. It can also be applied after washing as a conditioner. Apply it in the same manner as to the skin.
Unrefined Shea Butter:
Only pure, unrefined Shea Butter has the true healing and moisturizing properties of Shea Butter. Most Shea Butter available to the general public outside West Africa is white and odorless: in other words, it has been "refined" to remove the natural scent and color of natural Shea Butter. In the process, the majority of the effective agents are also removed.
In addition, refined Shea Butter has usually been extracted from the shea kernels with hexane or other petroleum solvents. The extracted oil is boiled to drive off the toxic solvents, and then refined, bleached, and deodorized, which involves heating it to over 400°F and the use of harsh chemicals, such as sodium hydroxide.
Shea Butter extracted in this manner still contains some undesirable solvent residues, and its healing values are significantly reduced. Antioxidants or preservatives such as BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) or BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) may be added as well. The end result is an odorless, white butter that may be aesthetically appealing, but lacks the true moisturizing, healing, and nutritive properties of true traditional Shea Butter.
In addition, refined Shea Butter is often hard and grainy, not smooth and creamy like pure, unrefined Shea Butter. All that can be said for refined Shea Butter is that it has an extended shelf life, a white, uniform color, no odor, and greatly reduced therapeutic benefits from the Shea Butter. All of our oils and butters are handcrafted and unrefined so they retain their natural healing and moisturizing properties.
We believe in being open and honest about the ingredients in our products. We strive to use only the finest ingredients possible, and have created the following ingredient glossary for your information.
African Wild Honey
T hroughout history, honey has been an important ingredient in traditional skin care. This is true in West Africa as well, where wild honey has been harvested from native honey bees for centuries. African Wild Honey is applied to the skin directly to heal and moisturize damaged skin, and is also mixed with shea butter and other traditional oils in balms.
Honey is a natural humectant and therefore has the ability to attract and retain moisture. Honey also has significant natural antioxidant properties. Recent articles have revealed honey's effectiveness as an antimicrobial agent that inhibits the growth of certain bacteria.
Our African wild honey is unfiltered, unpasturized, and contains all its natural vitamins, minerals and amino acids to nourish the skin. We have combined our African Wild Honey with oats and Unrefined Shea Butter for nourishing and gentle moisture.
Aloe Vera has traditionally been used to treat various skin conditions, burns and wounds. Aloe Vera alleviates discomfort associated with dry and cracked skin, burns, insect bites, and allergic reactions.
Baobab (Wild Harvested)
Baobab trees (Adansonia digitata) are special and distinctive features of the African savanna. The trees can live for up to 1000 years and grow to impressive sizes. They are uniquely adapted to the climate, and survive in even the driest regions of the savanna. Local communities revere the Baobab tree, for its strength and for its many uses. Bark is used for rope, paper, and medicinal extracts. The leaves are an important vegetable, and the fruit is also eaten or made into drinks. Baobab oil has special spiritual significance and is used for special occasions. Baobab leaves, bark, fruit and oil have also been part of African health care for centuries.
Recent studies in Europe have revealed a multitude of skin benefits from Baobab. Leaf and bark extracts tighten and tone skin, while oil from the seeds moisturizes and encourages skin cell regeneration with vitamins A, D and E.
Our Baobab products are sustainably harvested from wild Baobab trees and the oil is traditionally extracted and 100% unrefined. We recommend our Baobab products for mature skin, but they are suitable for all skin types.
Powder from ground cacao beans is added to our soaps as an exfoliant and natural coloring agent. This powder is one of the byproducts of traditional cocoa butter extraction.
The petals of Calendula (Calendula officinalis) have long been used medicinally to treat sunburns, chapped hands, insect bites, and other instances of inflamed or damaged skin. Calendula's primary active compounds include anti-inflammatory triterpenoids and flavonoids.
Emulsifying Wax NF
Vegetable wax that has been treated with detergents to emulsify oils and water.
Extra Virgin Cocoa Butter
Humans have realized the benefit and value of cocoa butter for thousands of years. Cocoa beans were traded since 1000 BC along the Mexican Gulf Coast. Theobroma cacao, the tree that produces cocoa beans, has been grown in the wet tropical areas of West Africa since 1590. Cocoa butter was adapted into the local cultures, and has been part of local skin care for the past 400 years. We extract our extra virgin cocoa butter using traditional methods from shade grown cocoa beans from the mountainous Kpalime region in southern Togo. We use only shade grown cocoa beans purchased from small farmers at fair prices.
Cocoa butter is an excellent moisturizer and has a wonderful texture. Cocoa butter also has antioxidant properties due to tocopherols as well as certain polyphenols that suppress free radicals and soothe skin irritation.
As with our other butters, our cocoa butter is produced without any harsh chemicals and has not been refined in any way. Therefore, it retains all its natural healing and preventative properties. In addition, it has a lovely natural chocolate mocha scent.
Green tea (Camellia sinensis) contains several phytochemicals, especially polyphenols (catechins), that have been shown to be highly effective protectors against skin cancer, as well as providing other beneficial effects. It is a natural astringent and antibacterial agent that can help to detoxify and purify the skin at the same time that it helps to ward off the ravages of sun-related skin aging.
Handcrafted Shea Butter
Shea Butter is the oil from the nuts of Vitellaria paradoxa Gaertner (Sapotaceae), which is also known as Butyrospermum parkii. Shea trees grow across 19 countries in the African savanna zone from Senegal to Ethiopia. Shea Butter contains high levels of UV-B absorbing triterpene esters, including cinnamic acid, tocopherols (vitamin A), and phytosterols. Shea Butter also contains a high percentage of unsaponifiables, which account for its superior moisturizing and healing properties.
Kpangnan Butter (Pentadesma butyraceae Butter)
Kpangnan (Pan-ya) is the butter from the African Butter Tree (Pentadesma butyracea), which grows in the gallery rainforests and riverbank forests in West Africa. Kpangnan is a traditional food and skin care oil in West Africa. In central Togo, it has cultural significance, and is used during local ceremonies.
Kpangnan has similarities to both shea butter and cocoa butter, but has its own unique fatty acid profile that gives the butter a distinctive smooth texture. Studies have found that Kpangnan contains a high amount of stigmasterol, an unsaturated plant sterol that contains anti-inflammatory agents.
Like all of our oils and butters, our Kpangnan is handcrafted using traditional methods and is completely unrefined and pure. We added Kpangnan in our formulations for extra softening and smoothing results.
Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) is an aromatherapy relaxant, stress reliever, and aphrodisiac. It is also a natural insect repellent.
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citrates) has natural antiseptic properties known to tone and revitalize the skin. Our lemongrass is wild harvested in Togo, West Africa. Lemongrass essential oil uplifts, refreshes and calms strained nerves.
The seeds of African Melons (Colocynthis spp.) are a valuable food source in West Africa. The oil is also a wonderful moisturizer for the skin. Ground melon seeds are mildly exfoliating when used in soaps.
Neem (West African)
The neem (Azadirachta indica) is one of the most sacred trees in India. The neem is an evergreen tree indigenous to South Asia, but it grows in most tropical nations the world over including West Africa. Almost every family compound in Togo contains a neem tree. They are planted in school yards, on the edges of fields, and along roads as well.
Every part of the neem tree has been used in traditional medicine in India and other countries. Multiple studies have shown neem oil as well as leaf and bark extracts to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant and antifungal properties. Furthermore, neem oil is very rich in fatty acids and is an excellent moisturizer. These properties make neem oil and neem extracts effective in treating skin conditions such as extreme dryness.
Neem oil and extracts are a valuable addition to our products. We have combined our hand pressed, unrefined neem oil with our unrefined shea butter for maximum moisturizing and healing formulations.
Papaya Seed and Leaf Extracts
Papaya (Carica papaya) extracts sooth skin irritations and help tighten and tone skin. We make our extracts from organic papayas grown on small farms in Togo, West Africa.
Deep earthy, sensual, grounding oil, which uplifts the spirit whilst clearing the mind. Patchouli oil is extracted from Pogostemon cablin (a.k.a. Pogostemon patchouli) from the Labiatae family.
A piercing menthol fragrance that is stimulating and penetrating. Clears the head and soothes the emotions.
Food grade preservative, synthesized from a naturally occurring molecule.
Raspberry (Rubus idaeus) Extract
Contains tannins, vitamin C and has a natural astringent effect, antiseptic, anti-bacterial.
Red Palm Oil
Red palm oil is a unique and beautiful oil made from the fruits of the oil palm (Elaeis guineensis), which is native to West Africa. Oil palms have been important in the diet and skin care of West Africans for ever. The oil is used as food and as a skin conditioner and has cultural significance in many regions.
Our red palm oil is hand pressed from the fruits of traditional oil palm varieties that are grown on small, organic farms in Togo. We do not use any commercial plantation-grown palm fruits in our oil production. We use red palm oil in its natural state; it has not been refined in any way and contains all its natural vitamins and antioxidants. As a result, our red palm oil is a rich source of pro-vitamin A in the form of carotenoids. Virgin palm oil contains about 15 times more carotenoids than carrots, which gives the oil its deep red color.Virgin palm oil is also rich in vitamin E and other natural antioxidants. This oil adds a lovely yellow or orange tint to our products as well as boosts the nurturing and moisturizing properties.
Rooibos Tea is the leaves from the South African Red Bush (Aspalathus linearis). Rooibos has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, and has also been proven to improve hair growth and condition. Rooibos tea has a long history of medicinal use, including treatment of skin conditions such as inflammations, eczema, rashes and acne. Rooibos tea is often used in South Africa to bathe children with allergic skin conditions.
Shea Nut Powder
Powder from ground shea nuts is added to our soaps as an exfoliant and natural coloring agent. This powder is one of the byproducts of traditional shea butter extraction.
Aromatherapists use oil of Spearmint to energize the mind and body. Aromatherapy benefits: refreshing, cooling, vitalizing.
A white, waxy, natural fatty acid from palm oil. Used as a stabilizer, emulsifier, and thickener.
Unrefined Palm Kernel Oil
Oil expressed from the kernel of the West African oil palm, Elais guineensis. We extract our Palm Kernel Oil from kernels of native palm trees in Togo, West Africa. Like our other main ingredients, our palm kernel oil has not been refined in anyway. Unrefined palm kernel oil one of the base oils in our African black soap and gives the soap its unique fragrance and wonderful lather.
Virgin Coconut Oil
Virgin Coconut Oil is traditionally extracted oil from fresh fruit of the coconut palm, Cocos nucifera. Coconuts have been cultivated in coastal West Africa and been part of the diet and skin care for centuries. Virgin coconut oil is an important food oil, and is applied to skin and hair directly to protect from sun and wind damage.
Virgin Coconut Oil is high in natural antioxidants and protects skin from damaging free-radicals. It also helps keep skin firm and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Virgin Coconut Oil can help heal and repair the skin and make the skin smoother and more evenly textured by removing the outer layer of dead skin cells. We extract our Virgin Coconut Oil by hand in Togo, West Africa from fresh coconuts grown organically on small farms. We use our Virgin Coconut Oil in its natural, unrefined state for maximum effectiveness.
Refined coconut oil has been stripped of natural antioxidants and is highly prone to free-radical generation. Free radicals damage skin cells and cause skin aging and cancer. The antioxidants in virgin coconut oil not only prevent free-radicals from forming in the oil, but also help protect against free-radicals that the skin is exposed to.
Vitamin E is an umbrella term for a group of compounds called tocopherols and tocotrienols. Vitamin E can be wonderfully therapeutic for a whole host of skin problems, including burns. When applied to the skin, vitamin E-containing creams or oils are believed to promote healing, protecting cells from free-radical damage and reducing itchiness.
Ylang Ylang is a deeply relaxing oil with an exotic, rich and sensual aroma produced from the flowers of the Annonaceae family. The oil also has a balancing effect, allowing strong emotions to be moderated.
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