In its purest form, shea butter is vegan, as it contains no animal-derived ingredients. However, some manufacturers may add other ingredients, such as beeswax, to the shea butter to improve its texture or scent, which would make it non-vegan.
If you want a vegan shea butter product, read the ingredient list carefully and look for products labeled as vegan or cruelty-free.
What is shea butter, and from where is it produced?
Shea butter is a fat derived from the nut of the African shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa). The tree is native to Africa and is found in 21 countries, including Ghana, Nigeria, and Mali. Shea butter is produced by extracting the fat from the shea nut, which is then processed and refined to create a creamy, ivory-colored substance. This substance has a rich, nutty scent and is used in various cosmetic and culinary applications.
What is shea butter made up of?
Triglycerides: Shea butter is made up of around 85% triglycerides, a type of fatty acid commonly found in vegetable oils and animal fats.
Oleic acid: This monounsaturated fatty acid is the most abundant fatty acid in shea butter, making up around 40-60% of its total fatty acid content.
Stearic acid: A saturated fatty acid that makes up around 20-50% of the fatty acid content of shea butter.
Palmitic acid: This is another saturated fatty acid that makes up around 3-9% of the fatty acid content of shea butter.
Vitamin E: Shea butter is a natural source of vitamin E and helps protect the skin from free radical damage.
Other components: Shea butter may also contain other components, such as phytosterols, which are compounds that are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, and cinnamic acid, which is a natural UV filter.
Shea butter classification and grades
Grade A – Unrefined Shea Butter: The highest quality shea butter is raw, unprocessed, and retains all its natural nutrients. It has a slightly nutty aroma and is ivory or yellowish-white in color.
Grade B – Refined Shea Butter: This grade is processed to remove impurities and contaminants, resulting in a more consistent texture and color. It is often used in cosmetic formulations and has a neutral scent.
Grade C – Highly Refined Shea Butter: This grade has been heavily processed, removing the natural scent, color, and nutrients. It is typically used to manufacture soaps, candles, and other non-cosmetic products.
Grade D – Lowest Unrefined Shea Butter: This grade is typically unrefined from low-quality shea nuts. It has high moisture and a shorter shelf life, making it unsuitable for many applications.
Grade E – Lowest Refined Shea Butter: This grade of shea butter is made from low-quality shea nuts and refined. It has a neutral scent and is typically used in low-end cosmetic formulations.
Grade F – Ultra-Refined Shea Butter: This is the purest form, with all impurities removed through rigorous refining. It is typically used in high-end cosmetics and has no scent, color, or texture.
It’s important to note that some grades are not standardized, and the grading system can vary depending on the region or industry. In general, however, grades A, B, and F are the most commonly used grades of shea butter in the cosmetic industry.
Shea butter uses and benefits
Moisturizing: Shea butter is an excellent natural moisturizer rich in fatty acids and vitamins. It can help soothe and hydrate dry skin, leaving it soft and supple.
Anti-inflammatory: Its anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce inflammation and redness in the skin. It is also used to treat conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Anti-aging: Shea butter contains antioxidants that can help protect the skin from free radical damage, which can contribute to signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles.
Sun protection: Shea butter has a natural SPF of around 6, which makes it a useful ingredient in natural sunscreen formulations.
Haircare: Shea butter can be used as a natural hair conditioner to help nourish and moisturize the hair. It may also help reduce frizz and promote hair growth.
Wound healing: Shea butter has been traditionally used in Africa to promote wound healing. It may help soothe and protect the skin while supporting natural healing.
Shaving cream: Shea butter can also be used as a natural shaving cream to help soothe and moisturize the skin while providing a smooth shave.
Can shea butter be used as an edible source?
Shea butter can be an edible source using only high-quality, food-grade shea butter labeled as safe for consumption. It can be used as a natural ingredient in cooking, baking, or as a spread, and it is commonly used in some parts of Africa as a cooking oil or as a base for traditional dishes.
Why shea butter is vegan?
Shea butter is vegan because it is a plant-based product derived from the shea tree’s nuts. It does not contain animal-derived ingredients or by-products, and no animals are involved in the production process. Therefore, it is a cruelty-free and vegan-friendly skincare ingredient.
Top brands that offer shea butter products
The Body Shop: The Body Shop offers a wide range of shea butter products, including body butter, hand cream, and soap.
Sky Organics: Offers organic and unrefined shea butter sourced from Ghana, using fair trade and sustainability practices, and offering shea butter-based lip balm and body butter. All products are vegan.
100% Pure: Offers vegan shea butter-based skincare products, including body lotion, face cream, and lip balm, using natural and organic ingredients.
Hugo Naturals: Offers vegan shea butter products, including body butter, hand cream, and soap, using natural and organic ingredients.
Lush: Offers a range of vegan shea butter products, including body lotion, shampoo bars, and face moisturizers.
Pacifica Beauty: Offers vegan shea butter, body butter, and hand cream, using sustainably sourced ingredients.
Acure Organics: Offers vegan shea butter products, including body lotion, facial moisturizer, and lip balm, using organic and fair trade ingredients.
EO Products: Offers vegan shea butter products, including body lotion, hand cream, and body oil, using organic and natural ingredients.
The Honest Company: Offers vegan shea butter products, including body lotion, diaper rash cream, and lip balm, using natural and non-toxic ingredients.
How to buy 100% vegan shea butter?
To buy 100% vegan shea butter, look for products labeled as vegan or cruelty-free and containing only plant-based ingredients. It’s also important to check the ingredient list and ensure no animal-derived ingredients or by-products are used in the formulation.
Does shea butter expire?
Yes, shea butter does have a shelf life and will eventually expire. The shelf life can vary depending on factors such as the quality of the shea butter and how it is stored, but it typically ranges from 1-2 years.
How can you tell if shea butter is pure?
You can tell if shea butter is pure by looking for a natural ivory or yellowish-white color, a slightly nutty aroma, and a rich, creamy texture.
Is shea butter dairy free?
Yes, shea butter is dairy-free as it is derived from the nuts of the shea tree and does not contain any dairy ingredients.
Is Shea butter soap vegan?
Shea butter soap can be vegan or non-vegan, depending on the ingredients used in the formulation. It’s important to check the label and ensure no animal-derived ingredients are used in the soap.
Is Dove shea butter soap vegan?
Dove Shea Butter soap is not vegan as it contains ingredients such as sodium tallowate derived from animal fat.
Is Cantu shea butter vegan?
Cantu Shea Butter offers both vegan and non-vegan hair care products, so it’s important to check the label to determine whether a specific product is vegan.
Is The Body Shop Shea body butter vegan?
Yes, The Body Shop Shea Body Butter is vegan as it contains no animal-derived ingredients and is not tested on animals.
Is EOS shea butter hand cream vegan?
Yes, EOS Shea Butter Hand Cream is vegan as it does not contain animal-derived ingredients such as beeswax or lanolin and is not tested on animals. Additionally, the brand EOS is strongly committed to sustainability and uses natural and organic ingredients in its products.
Is Organic shea butter vegan?
Organic shea butter can be vegan or non-vegan, depending on the product and brand. It’s important to check the label and ensure no animal-derived ingredients are used in the shea butter.
Is Shea Moisture vegan?
Shea Moisture offers vegan and non-vegan hair and skin care products, so it’s important to check the label to determine if a specific product is vegan. They have a range of products that are explicitly labeled as vegan.