Shea (Butyrospermum parkii)

Shea (Vitellaria paradoxa or Butyrospermum parkii) is a tree found in the center of the African continent. It belongs to the family of the Sapotaceae. It can reach 15 meters high and live for three centuries. The diameter of its trunk can reach up to two meters. 


From its almond-shaped fruit is extracted vegetal fat denominated “Shea butter”. Its elaboration starts with the picking and the washing of the almond. Then, almonds are triturated and toasted (depending on the process, the toasting phase does not necessarily get all the way through, which helps to conserve better the properties of the butter) and go through a mill in order to obtain a brown and liquid paste. 


This paste has to be beaten by hand to separate the butter from the rest of the components on the surface of the liquid. The resulting butter is brought to a boil and filtered several times, separating the impurities, until a clean, honey-colored product is obtained (depending on the roasting stage).

The butter commonly used for cosmetic products is ivory white in color and has a relatively strong odor. Refined shea butter can be found, less odorous and with a more whitish tone.

Traditional properties

  • Shea butter acts by covering the skin with an invisible layer which avoids the dehydration and protects it from external aggressions, such as sun (including redness provoked by sun exposure) and exposure to extreme temperatures. It is an essential ingredient of our Protective Moisturizing Cream .
  • It is very efficient to retain cutaneous aging, in addition to its huge potential for the regeneration of the skin, and its virtue for calming irritated skins. Shea stimulates cellular metabolism and helps to heal damaged skin. 
  • Also, it is rich in antioxidants. For us, it is indispensable in the formulation of anti-aging products such as our Anti-Aging Cream and our Serum for Eyes and Lips. In the same way, we use it in products that are treating damaged skins such as our Calendula Balm.
  • Shea is a viscous butter at ambient temperature, but it melts easily with a small increase of temperatures. Apart from its valuable properties, it is very important in the formulation of natural cosmetics, as it enables thin and pleasant textures.


Fatty Acid Profile

Shea butter is composed mainly of fatty acids, here you can find its fatty acids profile:

  • C18:1 Oleic Acid (Omega 9) (40-50%)
  • C18:0 Stearic Acid (35-50%)
  • C18:2 Linoleic Acid (Omega 6) (4-8%)
  • C16 Palmitic Acid (4-8 %)
  • C18:3 Alpha-Linoleic Acid(<1%)

*Its high concentration in Stearic Acid contributes to its buttery aspect.

Shea butter also presents antioxidant properties due to its rich concentration in polyphenols (mainly from the catechin family), with an antioxidant profile similar to that obtained from green tea extract.

Productos Abilia® formulados con Karité