Shea Butter is gotten from the kernels found in the fruit of the Shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa). This tree grows wild across the African Sahel, a semi-arid region south of the Sahara Desert. It is native to Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan.
Shea butter is mainly produced in West and Central Africa, with Nigeria leading the industry. Shea butter is mainly used in the cosmetics industries as a natural ingredient in many types of skin moisturizer creams, soaps and hair conditioners.
It is a very rich and highly nutrient oil that penetrates deep into the skin to restore elasticity, promote cell regeneration, soften and maintain moisture. It also helps to protect the skin from sun damage, prevent premature aging and increase capillary circulation.
Making shea butter is a labor intensive process and requires huge amounts of water, wood and fire. Traditionally, shea butter is made by women in west Africa as part of their traditional livelihood.
The nut of the shea tree is collected, boiled, sun dried and hand shelled. It is then roasted and crushed. It is then filtered before it is processed into shea butter.
Shea butter is primarily sold to Western countries, and has become increasingly important as a global commodity due to its high quality and wide use in the cosmetics industry. It is a relatively simple business to start, and offers great potential for making money.