Shea Butter History

Shea butter comes from the nuts of karité trees that grow in the Sahel region extending from West to East Africa, from Guinea and Senegal to Uganda and South Sudan. For centuries shea butter has been called “women’s gold” not only for its rich golden color (although shea butter can also sport a deep ivory hue, depending on the region) but also because it primarily provides employment and income to millions of women across the continent. Using traditional methods, women, often organized in cooperatives, harvest karité fruits. They then crush the nuts inside to extract the precious butter, which is boiled, cleaned, packaged and sold at the local markets or exported. Shea butter is non-toxic and edible, and can be used in cooking. But it is mostly used for cosmetic purposes.