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Shea butter and its benefits
Shea is a fruit tree from West Africa mainly that can live up several hundred years. It is often found in the wild savannah as it is very difficult to cultivate. Regarded as a sacred tree, Shea is traditionally worshiped for its natural butter which constitutes one of the very few available sources of fat for cooking as well as skin care. Because this very resistant tree defies deserts and provides sun shelter to men and animals, it plays an important ecological role in the Sahelian countries.
In Burkina Faso and several other Sahel countries, Shea is protected from cutting and fruit picking. In fact, the villagers wait until the fruits are ripe enough and fall to the ground before picking them up and eating their tender juicy flesh during summertime. This fruit encloses the shea nut itself, similar to a big shiny hazelnut, but with a more oval shape, and with a thinner, easily breakable shell.
Women are the only ones involved in the process of gathering and transforming the Shea nuts, which explains why shea butter is often described as “women’s green gold”. In fact, not only this product brings them multiple benefits in their everyday life as a beauty aid and cooking ingredient, but it also represents a significant source of income and emancipation.
Not surprisingly, many women cooperatives have emerged from the production of shea butter : this activity enables them to share and improve their ancestral know-how and increase their financial autonomy in a spirit of solidarity.
Shea butter is a highly nutritious and regenerating skin moisturizer. Its specific combination of fatty acids, sterols and vitamins A, D and E, plays a determining role in the health of skin cells, therefore placing shea butter as a choice product to protect, nourish and regenerate the skin. Shea butter is also the oil with the highest unsaponifiable content, made of complex organic elements that act directly on skin cells health. Highly nutritious and regenerating, the unsaponifiables in shea butter help maintain the skin beautifully healthy.
The process by which the shea butter has gone through highly influences the quality and efficiency of the product. If the shea tree fruit is processed with aggressive chemical substances often used to obtain a whiter, odourless product, or if solvents are used in an industrial process, the shea butter will lose its vitamins and along with it a great part of its efficiency.
The Kariderm products are made from a high quality, certified organic and unrefined shea butter, following a traditional method that guarantees purity and a superior quality butter.
For a long-lasting hydration
The essential fatty acids and vitamin A naturally occuring in shea butter allow to moisturize deeply and durably the skin tissues, especially those body parts that require intense moisturizing (heels, knees and hands).
On all skin types, shea butter is quickly absorbed and leaves a pleasant sensation of well-being, giving the skin a very soft and silky texture.
For a younger looking skin
Shea butter plays a key role in regenerating the skin, reducing the depth of wrinkles and preventing the formation of new wrinkles. Its anti-ageing action is reinforced by the antioxidant and protective properties of its vitamins A and E as well as karitene, a kind of latex that acts against the damaging effects of sun rays.
Soothing the most damaged skin
The cinnamic esters found in shea butter bring anti-inflammatory and healing properties that help the skin self repair. Shea butter is thus ideal to calm minor burns, fight the discomfort due to skin irritations and reduce skin chaps and superficial itching.
Protecting from environmental agressions (wind – sun – cold)
Shea butter leaves a thin protective layer on skin that will act as a barrier for hours. During great cold, it will protect the exposed parts of the body such as hands and face. Its protective action also makes it a surprising before- and after-tanning care that helps obtain an evenly tanned skin that will not peel.
Shea butter is reputed to prevent and fight stretch marks and skin weakening. It is often used to improve firmness on chest, thighs and belly for example, thus being ideal for pregnant women or anyone in weight control programs.
Production of Shea
To obtain a high quality shea butter, the women have to go through several steps. First of all, choosing the right shea nuts ensures a better fat content in the butter. Then these sorted nuts are boiled to stop the natural process of germination and deterioration of the almonds. The nuts are then released from their hulls and the almonds are dried in the sun. This process allows to decrease the moisture content of the almonds. Afterwards, a brief roasting completes this process of dehydration, ending the initial treatment phase of the almonds.
Once dried and cooled, the shea almonds are crushed by mills to obtain a chocolate coloured paste. In some villages however, the traditional pestles are still used to crush the almonds, a process which requires an important physical effort from the women.
This paste is then introduced into a special press to extract the fat part from it, which then looks likes a sticky golden color oil. This tepid oil is filtered to remove impurities, then put into barrels, in hermetic bags or in jars. Once cooled, the shea butter takes the appearance of its final texture, slightly yellowish and slightly granular, like the butter we are familiar with.
It is interesting to note that the pressing generates an organic residue which will be used by women as plant fuel and as a source of potassium for the crafting of traditional soaps.
As early as 2003, KARIDERM was the first brand to carry the ECOCERT organic certification for shea butter. This breakthrough was made possible after 3 years of efforts and technical assistance on the field in Africa with the ‘ASY’ women cooperative to put in place the strict standards of organic farming, adapt production equipment and train women producers on new management tools.
For consumers, the organic certification offers a additional quality assurance by respecting among others the following principles.
Product integrity: the shea nuts gathered under organic farming have not been in contact with any agro-chemical substance such as fertilizers or pesticides.
Product purity : les opérations de transport, de manutention et de transformation ont préservé le beurre de karité de tout contact avec des contaminants chimiques ou substances non tolérées.
Product traceability: the overall process shea butter goes through, from shea nuts gathering and the different production stages to selling in stores, is reported in several registers that must be archived and made available to external auditors for several years.
Respect for ecology: the production and transportation of shea butter apply all the necessary means to minimize the production of residues and favour a responsible management of resources.
Fair Trade Certification
KARIDERM shea butter also benefits from ECOCERT’s Fair Trade certification. Based on the EFT standard, this certification controls a series of commitments made by our company and our African partners in order to ensure the following parameters.
Social responsability: respect of workers rights, democratic functionning or the production structure,working conditions superior to those usually applied in the concerned country in terms of wages, hygiene and security.
Economic solidarity: direct relationship between the supplier and the buyer, control of profit margins, presence of a minimum guaranteed price, presence of a joint social fund used to improve the workers’ living condition.
Environmental responsability: implementation of good management methods for natural resources, use of GMOs forbidden, minimization of packaging, etc.
Transparency of information: all kinds of data are made available to the public : basic information on the shea butter industry, use of the social fund, promotion of fair trade, etc.