Any of these questions swirling around in your head right now? Don't worry, I had the same questions about 2 years ago and I'm here to clear the air a bit.
#1: There is a lot of misinformation circulating about shea butter. From blog posts to reporters, and even from the shea manufacturers, exporters, importers, and retail sellers themselves, there is a lot of hearsay about shea butter. So try to make sure that what you learn is backed up with some proof.
#2: High quality fresh shea butter is going to look like this:
- Light ivory beige color
- Soft, fondant (play dough) consistency
- Rancid-free smell (a little nutty, sweet, earthy, maybe a little smokey)
#3: Good shea is going to have laboratory analysis to back it up. Different organizations will rank superior quality shea butter as Grade A or Grade 1. TO BE GRADE A (or Grade 1) IT MUST BE TESTED and comply with requirements. Just because it is tested, does not mean that it is high grade. You need to know how to read that report. Here are the two readings to which I pay the most attention:
- Free Fatty Acids (must be less than 3%)
- Unsaponifiable Matter (can be from 1 to 19%, with 1 being the least desirable...the very highest I have found has had 9%)
NOTE: Grading of shea butter is very different than Certified Organic or Fair Trade. A shea butter can be Grade A/1 and not be Certified Organic or Fair Trade. Likewise, just because a shea butter is Certified Organic and Fair Trade, that does not mean that it is a superior grade butter.
NOTE: Lots of people will say that the color of shea butter can be any color from ivory to greenish to gray. That is true but high quality shea butter is not going to be brown, green, or gray...shea butters with those colors are going to have bad peroxide laboratory readings. This means that the shea kernels were roasted too long. And a yellow-ish butter is an indication that it was produced with rotten kernels. (The only exception to the rotten kernels thing is yellow shea butter that has been dyed with herbs or roots and this will be very BRIGHT.) One more indication of shea being made from rotten kernels is a low melting point (lower than 35.0 C).
What is cold pressed shea butter? Shea butter that has been processed with a screw expeller press after the kernels have been roasted.
What does shea butter do for your skin? Feeds, moisturizes, and protects
Is it okay to put shea butter on your face? Yes!
Can shea butter go bad? YES! Usually shea butters are good for 1-4 years, depending on their quality. Air, water, sunlight can all contribute to shea butter going bad BEFORE its expiration date. Store your shea in a cool, dark place in a sealed container.