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African yellow shea butter

The Truth About Yellow Shea Butter

Have you researched Yellow Shea Butter and are still not clear on what it is and how it differs from “regular” Shea Butter? Or, have you watched a youtube video or read a blog but are still not sure if the source of information is reputable?

We talked a little bit about yellow shea here, but over the years we had more questions, so here is an expanded explanation with a bonus recipe at the end πŸ™‚

Let’s first understand Unrefined vs Refined shea butter

Shea butter is extracted from shea nuts: they are small, brown, bean-shaped hard nuts that look like this:

nuts from the shea tree
shea nuts before they are milled and made into shea butter

These nuts fall from the Shea Tree (technical name: Vitellaria paradoxa) every Spring, then are picked, sorted, washed, cracked, the pulp inside them is boiled until a paste is formed. The paste is worked on by hand, then it is boiled. After a few hours of boiling, the shea butter will float to the top and it’s ready to be used.

We import large containers of this shea butter directly from West Africa, the butter has to be of the highest quality to pass an FDA inspection at customs, then it arrives to us in Austin, TX where we filter it with a chemical-free, physical filtering system that removes any left over skins, so we achieve a clean, but still completely natural shea butter.

This is Unrefined Shea Butter (also referred as “raw” shea butter even if technically there is boiling involved to extract the butter). We label it as “Ivory” in our packaging and product description to indicate the ivory, off-white color of the shea, and to differentiate it from the Yellow Shea Butter also available in our store.

Refined Shea Butter, on the other hand, is further processed with hexane or other bleaching chemicals that remove the natural nutty/smokey scent that unrefined shea has, and to make the color an even white. Below is a photo of what refined shea butter looks like – this is a jar of Shea Butter from a popular brand that sells in grocery stores across the US. As a note, the label of this product does not state anywhere if the shea butter is refined, thus giving incomplete information to buyers. The label does say “hexane-free”, but does not state what compound was used to strip it of odor or color – and that’s what you get at your local grocery store.

shea butter
refined shea butter (not our brand)

Why is Some Shea Butter Yellow?

In West Africa there is a tree that has been used for centuries to make teas and topical preparations that will help detox and heal inflammations. The tree is called Borututu Tree, and is what gives Yellow Shea Butter the yellow color.

This is what a tree branch from the Borututu looks like:

borututu bark
Borututu tree branch – this is where the yellow in yellow shea butter comes from!

The yellow/orange core you see above is shredded and added to the boiling step of shea butter production, and the result is a shea butter that has a pretty bright yellow color, and infused with incredible antioxidants and healing elements in addition to those of our Ivory Shea Butter.

Yellow Shea Butter is a magical butter that hasn’t reach the popularity it deserves, and it is probably because people don’t quite understand what it is.

How to use Yellow Shea Butter

Yellow Shea can be used as a stand-alone moisturizer: just take a pea size amount, melt it between your fingers, then apply on your skin, rubbing it in and massaging your skin until it’s well-absorbed.

The same pea size amount can be used in coarse or thick and unruly hair that needs some taming and extra moisture. Melt a pea size amount of yellow shea between the palms of your hand, then apply it to the dry hair.Β  Please note that a little goes a long way as shea butter is ultra moisturizing, so using too much will weigh down your hair.

There is a downside to using straight yellow shea: if you have fair skin and use too generous of an amount, it will temporarily stain your skin. So either use it in moderation, or if you still want to benefit from the antioxidant properties of the Borututu bark, you can simply add a bit of yellow shea to your homemade body butter. Check out our recipe below for a wonderful, effective skin healing whipped body butter made with Yellow Shea.

Whipped Yellow Shea Butter Recipe (cold whip method)

whipped shea butter in a jarWhipped Yellow Shea Butter – so fluffy!

Ingredients

  • 4 oz Yellow Shea Butter (we sell an 8oz yellow shea bar that you can simply cut in half, and there’s your 4oz:)
  • 2.75 oz of a carrier oil of choice (almond, apricot, jojoba are recommended)
  • 60 drops of your favorite essential oil (30 drops of lavender and 30 drops of tea tree EOs add antibacterial properties)

How to

yellow shea butter
Buy Yellow Shea Butter Here

Cut the yellow shea butter in small pieces and place them in a bowl. Use an electric mixer to whip the butter while you slowly add in all your oils. If you slowly add them in and continue whipping at medium speed, your butter will whip up in about 10 minutes.

Place the whipped butter in a jar or several small containers, close them with a lid and store in a cool place away from direct sun light. This body butter will start melting at around 80F and, while it will not lose any of its nourishing properties, it will lose the whipped effect. If the body butter melts, it is best to stir and put it in the fridge to re-solidify.

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I hope this brings some clarity as to what Yellow Shea Butter is and how it’s made. Feel free to comment below with any questions you have or any help you need to whip up your own homemade body butter!

43 responses to “The Truth About Yellow Shea Butter

  1. I absolutely LOVE this Yellow Shea Butter! It has done a particularly magical job at helping to keep my lower extremities moisturized while enduring some severe inflammation due to the side effects of medication that come with Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC).

    I was so fortunate to stumble across Better Shea Butter when I first started looking for ingredients to use in my D.I.Y. products after I was first diagnosed. All of their products are exactly how they describe them, clean, rich with nutrients, and the butters! Whoa the BUTTERS!! The one’s I consistently use are the Cocoa, Shea, Yellow Shea, & Mango they are heavenly, melt on your skin, healing, decadent butters.

    I had no idea my personal D.I.Y. products would turn out as wonderful and helpful as they have with all that my skin endures while undergoing cancer treatment. I have made many of the recipes that they have in their downloadable Recipe E-book and they all turn out just perfect.

    I have healed mine and many a friend’s chapped lips, eczema, dry skin, rashes, skin irritations, sensitive skin challenges, cracked, over-worked hands & cuticles, as well as simply moisturizing plenty of normal skin with my creations from Better Shea Butter’s ingredients & recipes.

    Anytime I am looking for an ingredient this is my first stop, as I can be rest assured that Isabelle and her team have already done the necessary research on all the products they carry and know they only carry the best of the best.

    It is not only reassuring that you are going to get the best products on the market, you also are going to get them from a company who values themselves on the importance of customer service. You cannot go wrong.

    Thank you Isabelle & Team at Better Shea Butter for giving me the peace and ease of mind one needs during a challenging time in one’s life, you have been wonderful.

    1. Hello my dear customer Jeanette, thank you for taking the time to write something that people may identify with – and it’s so good to hear from you! May your health continue to improve, you know how to find us if you need anything.

      1. Absolutely! You can add most oils to our shea butter, a good ratio I like for a nice whipped consistency is 70% butter to 30% oil.

  2. Great information. I pretty much stopped listening to anyone else about Shea butter – except you! Everything I’ve purchased from you has been top of the line and you even tell me how to use it (smile)! Keep up the good work.

  3. More people seem to prefer the yellow. I like the white but this is good info. We actually use both interchangeably in my house.

  4. Thank you so much for your article about yellow shea butter. You cleared up several misconceptions about this wonderful product! I love the shea butter you sell. The quality is amazing! I will in the future order yellow shea butter and will try your recipe. Question: Can I melt it instead and whip it up with a mixer?

    1. Yes you can melt it, I just wanted to give people an alternative to melting and whipping, especially for summer time when these butters are easy to whip at room temperature. I have a blog coming up on whipping cold vs melt and whip, stay tune!

  5. Thank you for this great information! I’ve wondered what the differences were. Going to try this yummy looking body butter, too!

    1. Awesome! And you can try the 8 oz bar to start with, that’s not a big investment but gives you enough product to try a few recipes.

    1. Yes, with time shea butter will oxidate and go bad – just like with anything from nature. However, unrefined shea, since it originates from a very hot part of the world (Africa, hello hot sun), it’s very resilient and when you store it in a place away from direct heat and in a container, it will last about 2 years.

  6. Thank you for your honest and complete explanation. Believe me, integrity is high on my list when it comes to vendors and after using your products and recipes for the last few years, you are one I trust! My family and I love the lipbalms and body butters I’ve made with your shea butter. I’ll definitely try the yellow shea butter in my next order. Blessings to you and all in your supply chain for spreading goodness in the world! We so desperately need it to create the kind of world we want to see. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, they really help, especially since we’re all attached to devices and wonder who’s on the other end of the receiving line and if anyone is even listening πŸ™‚

      1. Here is where the bark is said to provide the yellow color:

        benefit from the antioxidant properties of the Borututu bark, you can simply add a bit of yellow shea to your homemade body butter.

  7. I use the raw yellow butter with 100 percent extra virgin olive oil.i make a soft whipped paste. It also moisturize your skin and does.not leave you greasy. I buy the raw butter in pound containers. I ? it

  8. We sponsor a young woman in Ghana, where Shea butter is a way for them to make a living. Her name is “Gifty” and she loves that something from her country is being used here in Montana. Your Shea butters are the absolute best out there! Awesome job!

  9. I read about how the yellow shea butter becomes yellow. Would like more information about the applications or when I should use ivory versus yellow. Thanks!

    1. Hi Carol, yellow has an extra dose of antioxidants and nutrients, but it can also stain your skin a bit if you use too much, so I would use it to help with extreme skin conditions like eczema, or put a little bit in your skin care recipe together with other products, it will add a nice color and vitamins to your mix.

  10. Thanks for your many interesting facts and details! Could you just tell us what part of the tree is used? You say “its bright yellow root is what gives Yellow Shea Butter the yellow color” but also that the tree branch core is where the yellow color comes from, and also that the bark is what creates this:

    In West Africa there is a tree whose bark has been used for centuries to make teas and topical preparations that will help detox and heal inflammations. The tree is called Borututu Tree, and its bright yellow root is what gives Yellow Shea Butter the yellow color.

    This is what a tree branch looks like:

    Borututu tree branch – this is where the yellow in yellow shea butter comes from!

    The yellow/orange core you see above is shredded and added to the boiling step of shea butter production, and the result is a shea butter that has a pretty bright yellow color, and infused with incredible antioxidants and healing elements in addition to those of our Ivory Shea Butter.

  11. Is there an extra chemical process that occurs when shea butter is not sold in chunks? I recently purchased a Shea butter that is yellow and has the texture of your first picture. Are extra oils added to make this consistency?

    1. I can’t speak for other sellers of Shea Butter, but our ivory and yellow shea butters are unrefined and we use no chemicals at all. To make our yellow shea yellow, our African co-op teams add the root of a tree to add some color and antioxidant power to the regular shea.

      1. Can you please let me know, if yellow or ivory Shea butter from ‘Better Shea Butter’ is good for eczema, it’s for my toddler. Thanks.

        1. Both variety are great, but ivory shea butter is what I see most customer use for eczema relief. I would start with that.

  12. I’ve read on some other sites that Shea Butter is edible and beneficial to consume internally as well as topically.

    Is Yellow Shea Butter (which the addition of the Borututu tree extract for color) safe to eat?

    1. Shea butter in Ghana is used for cooking, just like we use animal butter here for cooking. However, at Better Shea Butter we do not test any of our products for food grade quality since we are a cosmetics and not food company.

  13. Love this article, I have a box of yellow Shea and I asked someone from shades of Afrika what was the difference and she said the yellow she’s had palm oil in it which prompted me to do my research. Thank you so much for the answer.

    1. You’re welcome! Different suppliers may color their yellow shea with palm oil, but that’s now how yellow shea is made and that would be dishonest.

  14. What a great article. Very informative and answered my questions. The background info on the Shea in general was awesome. I’m going to use your recipe of whipping my gold Shea w, jojoba and lavender to use as a sealant for my daughters hair. Thank you.

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