In Africa Shea means "life". It is known as "Women's Gold". Making shea butter , and selling the shea has improved the lives of many women in Africa. The harvesting , and production of shea has provided the women , and their families with labor, and a better quality of life. The export of shea is now growing from a small group of women to a global industry.
The shea tree is called "Ghariti in the Wolof language of Senegal. The french name of the tree, and the butter is "Karite". The shea tree takes from 15 to 25 years to produce fruit, and 50 years to reach its youth, this continues until it reaches 100 years, it then lives up to the ripe age of 200 years, during which it can be called " the tree of wisdom and knowledge". It can produce up-to 20 kilos of fruit annually. This amount of fruit yields only six kilo's of kernels , after processing, the end product is two and a half kilo's of rich shea butter.
It's a lot of work when its done by hand . There are twenty steps in the harvesting of shea butter from gathering depulping ,blanching drying ,roasting, grinding ,cooking and packaging . It takes many days by hand to accomplish all the steps. When you understand the value of the finished product, and what it means to the women in Africa , you become quite passionate about the shea.
When I am unpacking my shea butter, and I open the wrapper, and I smell the scent of the shea nuts, I feel the warmth of the sun that has dried and lingered on the harvest of the nuts, you can sense that it is very energetic that it is natural, and not an ingredient made in a lab in a petri dish by a cosmetic chemist . It is such an important ingredient in skin care. Fair trade practices increase the cost of the product , and it's worth every cent, when you apply it to your skin you will feel, and see how it heals, and moisturizes the skin, there is nothing quite like shea. Supporting African women, and the communities justifies the extra cost, it is a social enterprise for these women and not only does it provide an income , it gives them a sense of accomplishment , and hope.
Shea butter is one of the most prized butters on Earth, it has many properties from moisturizing, softening , and even firming. Women in Africa apply it throughout pregnancy to firm up their abdominal walls. It is a powerful disinfectant as well, it is applied to the umbilical cord after delivery to heal .
It is used for its medicinal, cosmetic and culinary purposes, and is used in the manufacturing of many foods, including some of my favorite chocolates. It is an added ingredient in many cream, lotions and skin care products, and for good reason. In Burkina Faso women harvest shea for the fair trade union. The shea tree is considered almost sacred, and it provides many women with income to provide for their families.
The tree is never climbed so as to not inflict damage, the fruits are picked from the ground near the tree, and gathered to depulp, they are then blanched to keep them from fermenting, and then spread to dry in the warmth of the sun. In the evening , when it cools they are gathered up, and then spread out again the following day, this process is repeated for eight to twelve days, untill the nuts are completely dry.The women crush the nuts with a pestle by hand , or in many cases the kernels are processed into butter in a facility where there is a mill to crush the nuts, ovens to roast the nuts, and vats for kneading where many women work collectively.
They may still be processed by hand , but these small factories make the process much simpler, and the quality of the shea is improved with a little infrastructure the processing time is reduced, and the yield is increased greatly. A manufacturing process increases the profits for the local women, and they can afford school supplies for their children." Shea is a husband for widows, and a father for orphans," since many women have lost their husbands here. It is truly "women's gold" The living standards of the whole family are improved.
Metamorphosis adds shea butter to many of our products, the scrubs have shea butter as a base to provide moisture, and soothe the skin. Shea is rich in vitamins A, E, F as well as other vitamins, and minerals. Shea helps relieve many skin conditions, and is used after sun, and wind exposure to calm the skin .It helps sore muscles, and is very good for bug bites, and diaper rash. Shea butter should be in every medicine cabinet. It needs to be kept cool or it may melt, since it really is the consistency of a pound of butter. Shea can be directly applied to the skin to treat many skin ailments.~