Shea Butter... Refined or Unrefined?

Shea Butter... Refined or Unrefined?

Shea butter is a natural product that comes from the nut of the African Shea Tree. It has been used for many years for its moisturizing and healing properties. It’s one of the most commonly used butters in skin and haircare products.

It has a high concentration of fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and other skin-loving nutrients. It’s very moisturizing and gentle enough for all skin types, but it is especially effective at treating sensitive and dry skin. It is a fat that is solid at room temperature but melts upon contact with human skin.

You may be wondering what’s the difference between UNREFINED and REFINED Shea butter? Which one is best?


Refined shea butter comes from the refining process in which the shea butter is treated with high levels of heat (and sometimes chemicals). This process removes the smell and color of raw shea butter and improves the texture so it’s smoother and spreads easier.

Because of the refining process it doesn’t retain all of its nutrients but it still works great as a moisturizer. It’s widely used in cosmetics and skincare products because it has a longer shelf life and a better texture to use in products (or even by itself).

However, the refining process does come with significant drawbacks. The extreme heat or chemicals that are using during refining will cause the shea butter to lose many of its nutrients and moisturizing properties that makes is so great.


Unrefined, or raw shea butter, is shea butter in its natural form. It’s not touched or refined in any way so it keeps all of its amazing properties and nutrients.

Natural shea butter is a thick, yellow-cream color with a strong smoky/nutty smell. It’s easier to scoop and apply than refined shea butter but it can be challenging as a base ingredient since the texture is so thick and difficult to work with, which is why many beauty products contain refined shea butter instead.

Shea Butter Properties:

  • Nourishing and Moisturizing 
  • Anti-Inflammatory 
  • Anti-Oxidant 
  • Anti-Aging
  • Healing

Refined Shea Butter

Unrefined (Raw) Shea Butter

·        Smooth, creamy texture

·        Very tick, sometimes with grainy texture

·        Easy to spread onto the skin

·        Harder to spread

·        White or cream

·        Yellow

·        No scent

·        Has nutty and smoky smell

·        Loses most nutrients and vitamins

·        Retains al nutrients and vitamins

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