Shea in every form: butters, liquids, seeds and trees

October 14, 2021


Shea tree

Shea butter is everywhere, from food (chocolate!) to cosmetic products, soaps, is extremely versatile and offers a wide range of benefits!

The shea tree (also known as the Butyrospermum Parkii, or karite trees) only grows in West Africa. It grows naturally, it is not cultivated, thanks to the high rainfall of the area.

The tree can grow to 15 meters high and produces nuts for up to 200 years. Shea butter, traditionally, is produced by women. This production has an important economic and social role in the countries where it is produced.


Shea fruit

Shea butter comes from the shea fruit. It is a thin, maybe a little tart, pulp that is rich in nutrients. It surrounds a large seed where the butter in shea butter comes from, as it is very oil-rich. The shea nuts (kernel) can contain up to 50% of fat and oil, which will be turned into shea butter. But how?

There are 3 methods of extraction of the shea butter:

  1. The traditional method: the kernels are crushed, roasted, kneaded and then heated in a pan of boiling water. Heat can affect its quality to some extent.
  2. Cold press extraction: the kernels are simply crushed in a press at a temperature below 80°C. It does not extract all the butter in the nut, but it provides the best quality of shea butter with the most active ingredients.
  3. Solvent extraction: the kernels are crushed, then a solvent (hexane) is used to dissolve the butter from the nut. The solvent is then evaporated, leaving only the shea butter, by of inferior quality.

The yellow-green butter extracted often has a strong odor, can be refined to be used in beauty care products (neutralized to avoid oxidation, deodorized to remove the smell, fading to have a white butter). Sophim offers a cold pressed and refined grade of shea butter with KARITE CP

Properties and usage

Shea butter content:

  • Saponifiable fraction : Mostly Stearic and Oleic acid and lesser amounts of palmitic acid and other essentials fatty acids
  • Unsaponifiable fraction: bioactive substances that are responsible for Shea butter's medicinal properties (1)

Shea butter is a solid at room temperature and melts at body temperature. Very high moisturizing benefit and protective action against skin dryness Nourishing action on the hair and keratin restauration properties Topical use of Shea butter has also demonstrated anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties.

Shea butter is especially recommended to dry skin. It helps to deeply protect and nourish, as well as soothe irritated skin. Rich in vitamins A, D, E and F, shea even has repairing properties while it softens, smooths, and moisturizes the skin! Perfect for skincare, it even has benefits towards skin elasticity - no wonder it’s used in such a variety of industries!

Shea butter is perfect to use as a cream to prevent stretch marks, a lotion for hydration and skin suppleness, lip balms for chapped skin, and even brings protection and nourishment to hair care products (2).

SOPHIM products distributed by SEPPIC in US

KARITE CP helps achieve a creamy texture, with healing and nourishing properties INCI : Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter
Melting point: 28-45C
100% Natural Origin Content (ISO16128) and solvent-free
High content of unsaponifiables
Sustainably sourced, naturally grown and harvested in Africa
Cold Pressed, deodorized, extracted without solvent
An organic version is available with KARITE OR.

KARITE ON: a liquid Shea butter with the Shea Olein (or shea oil) INCI: Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter Extract

Pure shea olein is a 100% natural emollient made of the liquid fraction of shea with a melting point at room temperature (28-36C).

Benefits of Shea include it has a high content of unsaponifiables and absorbs faster than the butter.

Ease-of-use in cold process and fluid/sprayable formulation!

Formulations inspiration


US20145 (opens new window) Creamy Body Butter thick mint green emulsion that provides skin moisturization, softness and is fast absorbing!


US20162A (opens new window) Knot Anymore! Detangling Spray is a light, fine milky spray with conditioning and nourishing properties!


US20109 (opens new window) Targeted Treatment Body Butter is a butter texture, with a nice skin feel at a reasonable cost, for skin moisutization and comfort during application.


  1. SOPHIM.
  2. Malachi, Oluwaseyi. (2014). Effects of Topical and Dietary Use of Shea Butter on Animals. Am J Life Sci.. 2. 303-307. 10.11648/j.ajls.20140205.18. Available on: