Botanist's Glossary

Shea Butter - Butyrospermum parkii

  • Description
    • The shea tree (Sapotaceae family) comes from dry tropical Africa and grows to a height of 12 to 20 meters. It has a thick, corky bark that protects it against bushfires and can live for 200 to 300 years. Its fruits, which look like large yellowish plums and measure 4 to 5 cm, only appear after 25 to 30 years. A thin, edible flesh surrounds 1 or 2 large seeds, which are very rich in oil. Shea trees are rarely cultivated even today and shea nuts are usually harvested in the wild.
  • Traditions
    • Specific to Sub-Saharan Africa, this much-respected tree contributes to the rhythm of village life. Shea butter is used as a food oil, but also in therapeutic products. However, its main use is in beauty products: it protects the skin against the wind and the burning sun and makes a nourishing balm for the hair.
  • Properties
    • Incorporated into L'OCCITANE formulas, shea butter is an ideal balm for dry and dehydrated skin. Its nourishing and protective properties have been revealed. It contains insaponifiables, to boost cell renewal and repair the hydrolipid film, for softer, more elastic and comfortable skin. It acts like a barrier for the skin and limits water loss, thus maintaining an optimal level of moisture. For an oil version and higher proportion of unsaponifiable matter, shea butter olein is used. Finally, in soaps, the butter can be saponified to make it exceptionally soft and gentle.

Ingredient used in :