, where it comes from, how it’s made, and why it’s used
Shea nut oil is an all-natural vegetable oil with a lot of beneficial properties, as well as a long history of usage in African medicine and cosmetics. With its abundance of Vitamin A, Vitamin E and fatty acids, Shea nut oil is a great moisturizer, anti-inflammatory, and skin healer. It is also used in a wide range of beauty and personal care products.
Origins of Shea Nut Oil
Shea nut oil is derived from the African Shea tree, which is indigenous to West Africa, but can also be found in areas of East, Central and Southern Africa and parts of Asia. The nuts are harvested by hand and traditionally processed to make Shea butter, a creamy and moisturizing substance used in many vegan and organic beauty products.
The Shea tree – scientifically known as Vitellaria Paradoxa – is a towering kind of tree that can grow up to 20 meters in height and be very long-lived. The nuts, which are like small stones in their raw form, are the kernel of the fruit of the shea tree.
Making Process of Shea Nut Oil
The process of making Shea nut oil begins with shea nut kernels which are cracked and shelled. The nuts are then stored for about 24 hours to allow for fermenting, which helps extract the oil. The fermenting process also reduces the amount of water in the raw material, making the oil easier to extract.
The warm raw material is then cold-pressed to extract the oil, which is a labor-intensive process. Cold-pressing is done by manually grinding the shea nut kernels, mechanically pressing the paste and filtering out the impurities.
The result is a creamy, yellowish, fragrant oil that has a mild nutty flavor. The oil is highly perishable and must be kept away from direct sunlight and must be stored in a cool place.
Uses of Shea Nut Oil
Shea nut oil is used in many beauty and personal care products and cosmetic applications. It has a soft, creamy texture and readily absorbs into the skin – making it ideal for moisturizing and softening the skin. It is also used in massage oils and is a common ingredient in African medicine and cosmetics.
One of the main components of Shea nut oil is unrefined fatty acids, which makes it a great moisturizer for the skin and hair. Unrefined fatty acids also help to protect and nourish skin cells, boost collagen production, reduce inflammation and improve skin elasticity.
Because of its moisturizing and skin-repairing properties, Shea nut oil is a common carrier oil used to dilute essential oils. It is also used in hair care products to fight frizz, hydrate dry scalps, prevent dandruff, and promote hair growth. As a result, Shea nut oil is often combined with other natural oils, such as coconut and jojoba, to create a diversity of “all-in-one” hair elixirs.
Its use is not limited to beauty regimes: Shea nut oil is also a great addition to any salad dressing. Its smooth, nutty taste adds a delicate flavor to vegetable and fruit salads, as well as making its way into a variety of sauces.
Shea nut oil is a versatile natural oil that is derived from the kernel of the African Shea tree. It is rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin E and fatty acid-based nutrients and has been used for centuries in Africa for medicinal and cosmetic purposes. Today, Shea nut oil is commonly used in beauty and healthcare products, from moisturizers and facial balms to massage oils and hair care products. It can also be used in cooking to add a nutty flavor to dressings, sauces and salads.