Shea butter is obtained from the nut of the Shea tree found in Africa. Nigeria in West Africa accounts for the majority of exports of Shea butter to various parts of the world. The butter itself is an off-white or ivory-colored fat extracted from the nut of the African Shea tree. Shea butter is a triglyceride derived mainly from Stearic acid and Oleic acid. It is widely used in cosmetics as a moisturizer or lotion. Shea butter is edible and is used in food preparation in Africa. The melted version of Shea butter is used in frying and general cooking. It is sometimes used as a substitute in the chocolate industry but is well known for its skin moisturizing and nourishing properties.
According to the American Shea butter institute, all Shea butter is not created equal. When aged, Shea butter loses some of its medicinal value and can only be used as moisturizer in creams and soaps. Furthermore, the method of processing Shea butter determines the quality and value of the Shea butter and its subsequent effectiveness in treating various skin conditions. Shea Butter of excellent quality may be used to treat a number of skin conditions, and can serve as an excellent moisturizer as well. On the other hand, poor quality Shea Butter is good only for moisturizing purposes, and should be compared with products such as cocoa butter and mango butter.
The American Shea butter institute highlights various benefits of Shea butter, these include healing dry skin; skin rash; skin peeling; after tanning; blemishes and wrinkles; Itching skin; Sunburn; Shaving cream for a smooth silky shave; small skin wounds; skin cracks; tough or rough skin (on feet.); cold weather; frost bites; stretch mark prevention during pregnancy; insect bites; healthy skin; muscle fatigue; aches and tension; for before and after strenuous exercise; skin allergies such as poison ivy or poison oak; eczema; dermatitis; skin damage from heat (hot grease while cooking, radiation treatment for certain medical problems, etc.).
While Shea Butter addresses the following conditions, the efficiency with which it would do so depends on the frequency of use in some cases. For example, while wrinkles and fine lines would improve with daily use over a period of 4 to 6 weeks, itching of the skin would be relieved immediately when Shea butter is applied.
21 reasons to use Shea butter: http://www.sheainstitute.com/asbi-library/21reasons/