Shea butter is produced from the nuts of the shea tree, which grows in Africa. It comes in solid form, but is often melted and mixed with essential oils to be sold as a skin and hair-care product. Shea butter is beneficial to skin because, despite its moisturizing and healing properties, it does not clog the pores. It is used to reduce wrinkles and stretch marks. Shea butter also moisturizes hair follicles and the scalp to enhance shine and health.
Though shea butter has many positive properties, it does not have a long shelf life. Many store-bought brands use artificial preservatives, but these detract from the natural healing aspects of the shea butter itself. To make your own shea butter, avoid adding artificial preservatives. There are natural preservatives, though, that you can add to your recipes to give your shea butter cream a longer shelf life. Vitamin E and rosemary oil are both natural preservatives that smell nice and are beneficial for the skin. Adding these oils will improve your shea butter. In addition, always store your shea butter in a dark room or cabinet, away from direct sunlight. Do not overheat the butter when you are melting it, and do not store it in hot temperatures for long periods of time.
Shea Butter Cream
A basic shea butter recipe is simple shea butter cream. You will need to purchase unrefined shea butter, which comes in a hardened block or small chunks, similar to the texture of soap. You can buy this at places such as CrabAppleSoap.com for about $8.95 per pound or at other online retailers. Boil water in a saucepan, and place a heat-resistant bowl over the top. Melt the shea butter in the top bowl or in a double boiler. Stir occasionally until it melts completely. When the shea butter has completely liquefied, add scented oils of your choosing. You can purchase scented oils at places such as TheScentWizard.com or TheBodyShop.com. Be sure to add Vitamin E, rosemary or both to preserve the shea butter. Mix the butter well, then pour it into a jar or canister. Place in the freezer until the mixture solidies again.
Whipped Shea Butter
Whipped shea butter is light and fluffy and a treat for the skin. But it takes a little more work than simply making a cream. Melt the shea butter as though you were making shea butter cream, heating it until it reaches 175 degrees on a candy thermometer. Once it reaches 175 degrees, transfer it to a mixing bowl and add Vitamin E and jojoba oil if you choose. Using an electric mixer with its whisk attachment, mix the butter for five to seven minutes, then place the bowl in the refrigerator for five to 10 minutes. Remove the butter from the freezer. It should still be liquefied but it will have a slightly hardened film on top. Mix the butter again for five to 10 minutes. Repeat the freezing and mixing process a few more times until the butter reaches a whipped cream or frosting consistency. When it has reached this point, add the scented oils of your choice and mix well. Pour your shea butter into small containers for storage.
References and ResourcesBasic Shea Butter creams
Information on Shea butter storage
Instructions on how to make whipped Shea Butter