Two Types of Shea Butter

Shea butter is a hard oil extracted from shea nuts. Shea butter has wonderful skin-caring and skin-softening properties thanks to its rich content of oleic acid, catechin antioxidants and vitamin E. I the world of biology, the tree on which shea nuts grow has changed name. From the rather famous Butyrospermum parkii to Vitellaria paradoxa. But the INCI name for shea butter continues to be Butyrospermum parkii. To make it even more complicated, there are two distinct types of shea butter that both are extracted from the nuts of Vitellaria paradoxa but from trees growing in two geographically different regions, East and West Africa. West African shea butter is what we normally regard as shea butter. A relatively hard butter that has a slightly creamy consistency when you squeeze it between your fingers. East African shea butter, on the other hand, has a much higher content of oleic acid that is liquid at room temperature and instead much less stearic acid, which is a hard fat. The East African shea butter, often called Shea nilotica or just Nilotica, is, therefore, much softer or even partly liquid at room temperature. A bit like coconut oil, but creamier. It is therefore fine to use it in exchange for coconut oil to get a creamier and more skin-caring result. When it comes to INCI nomenclature both types are called Butyrospermum parkii, which makes it impossible to tell from the list of ingredients which type of shea butter a product contains.