Sheaboter (Butyrospermum parkii)
Wonderfully softening and an excellent ally for product formulation, shea butter is a staple at Lush.
Where do we get it?
Lush UK purchases this butter from a company in Ghana’s Northern Region. Founded in 2021, they work with a co-operative of over 1,000 women producers. Indeed, in this country, the know-how surrounding the process of extracting shea butter is passed down from woman to woman through the generations.
With seven manufacturing sites across the globe, this information may vary depending on where your Lush products are made.
What are the benefits for people and the planet?
This Ghanaian supplier is all about regeneration. First, they provide their producers with a stable net income that reaches at least the country’s poverty rate. It may not seem like much, but the women producing shea butter are usually paid a quarter of that rate. Second, they set aside a share of their profits for sourcing communities to invest in their future. Top of the list of projects is the development of organic community farming and initiatives to upcycle waste to satisfy energy needs and reduce deforestation.
Aside from generating a stable income, shea butter making is also an important social custom in Ghana and solidifies the position of women in the community.
What are the benefits of shea butter for the skin and hair?
- Moisturising and emollient, it softens the skin.
- Conditions the hair and skin, making them smooth to touch.
- Contains oleic acid, a mono-unsaturated fatty acid that is highly compatible with our body's natural sebum and allows the butter to be more easily absorbed into the skin.
What are the benefits of shea butter for Lush formulas?
The butter contains stearic acid, a skin-softening fatty acid that acts as an emulsifier. This means that it helps bind oil and water together, preventing products from separating. Combined with the solid nature of the butter, this emulsifying property creates tight emulsions that leave no room for microbes to move and grow, helping products to remain fresher for longer and thus lower or prevent the need for synthetic preservatives.
Shea is very similar to cocoa butter in its chemical composition and has often been used as an alternative in the chocolate industry. At Lush, the two butters are very often used together to offer different textures. Cocoa is indeed quite solid, while shea has a whipped and aerated consistency. Shea also withstands slightly higher temperatures. Together they help harden product blends and create a good amount of solid, naked products that do not need packaging.
Shea butter is the ivory-coloured fat extracted from the nut of the vitellaria tree (Vitellaria paradoxa or Butyrospermum parkii), which is native to the Sahel region on the African continent. To obtain the butter, the nuts are dried and crushed before being roasted and pressed into a silk liquor. This is then whipped and kneaded in large pans until fat forms on top.