By Nathaniel Hansberry Jr., Assistant Wellness Manager & Shea Butter Enthusiast
It's summer time again and if you're like me your skin is freaking out. The constant sweating makes for the driest of skin and skin disorders like Eczema and Psoriasis make things worse.
When I first experienced Eczema it was admittedly one of the worst times of my life. Constantly irritated skin was making me irritable. It seemed that my only solace was in the form of over-the-counter creams that contained chemicals that I'd never heard of and could barely pronounce. Then, by chance I happened to stumble upon the wonders of shea butter. A modicum of this all natural product applied to the affected areas and the relief was almost instantaneous. Upon further research I found that shea butter has been used for centuries all over the world and has been shown to be beneficial for a myriad of skin problems (such as the aforementioned as well as rashes and skin irritations in general) as well as stiff and/or sore muscles, pain associated with arthritis and can even be used by drummers to treat their drum heads.
After a little more research, I learned that shea butter is more than just an aid for people with a troublesome epidermis. Shea butter, is derived from the shea nut an export that constitutes the major portion of income for many women in Africa (Ghana and West Africa in particular). So, by purchasing fair-trade shea nut butter from companies carried by New Leaf Market, companies like Erzuli (located in Georgia), Abike and Amber Lotus (both located in Florida), we can help our skin feel better throughout the harshness of a Florida summer AND women in Africa make an honest living. In the industry we call this a win-win situation.
Here are some tips concerning shea butter:
- Don't be alarmed by the solidness of its initial consistency. If you take a chunk of it in your hand and rub your palms together, the friction and your natural body heat will begin to liquefy it and soon it will be ready to absorb into your eagerly awaiting skin.
- Shea butter (the ones we carry in any case) are all natural so don't be surprised if color varies from batch to batch, and from company to company.
- She butter naturally contains vitamins A and E as well as other minerals and essential fatty acids. With its inherent hydrating properties, as well as anti-wrinkle properties, it's one of the best things you can find to nourish your skin and keep it looking fabulous.
For more info on shea, check out the USAID.gov site or search UEMOA standards for unrefined shea butter. The National Academies Press article from the book, Lost Crops of Africa, volume II, is also very informative.