Posted on October 25, 2010 by Samara

What is REAL Shea Butter?

I always thought shea butter was yellow. In the local Korean and African beauty stores, shea butter is bright yellow in color with a strong smokey odor. I have been working on developing my own product line for almost a year now and during my journey of learning about different ingredients that benefit our hair, I discovered that the shea butter I used in my hair at the beginning of my hair growth journey was not shea butter at all. The yellow shea butter sold in many Korean and African hair stores in the U.S. which is also known as “Golden Shea Butter” is actually Kpangnan Butter or African Butter. This butter is from a completely different tree than the Shea tree. The African Butter tree grows in the dense forests along the rivers of Togo, whereas the Shea tree grows in the open Savannah. Kpangnan butter is a good butter, but it is better used on the skin rather than the hair. Its unsaponifiable value isn’t as high as shea butter, making shea butter a more appealing choice for use on the hair.

I also noticed that the kpangnan butter is a lot greasier, has a much stronger odor, and is more “gritty” than shea butter. Unrefined shea butter is slightly softer than cocoa butter, is ivory in color, and the odor is very faint. It absorbs easily and reminds me of cocoa butter some what.

Sometimes you may come across “actually” shea butter, which has been dyed yellow in color because some people prefer the yellow kind. The reason? Some people actually believe real shea butter is yellow(like I did) so merchants may dye it to make better sales. I for one would rather purchase the butter undyed or tampered with in anyway. That way I am sure that I am getting actual shea butter and not kpangnan butter.

Overall, both butters are beneficial to the hair and skin. It is really your decision on which you like best. Just know that when you walk into that beauty supply store looking for shea butter, you may not find it. Instead you will have a tub of kpangnan butter label as shea butter because most local merchants are ignorant to the fact of what they really have on their hands and don’t have time, let alone care to do their research.


 
  • http://mydreadlocks.com Natasha — MyDreadlocks.com

    Based on your findings, I wonder if the Kpangnan butter has a cheaper market value than pure shea? Perhaps some of these store owners know more than they’re letting on and profit?

    That said, I’ve never tried pure shea butter. Instead, I like shea nut oil. Less muss and the light feeling helps my hair. Have you considered using that instead, Samara?

  • http://www.growblackhair.net Samara

    Based on your findings, I wonder if the Kpangnan butter has a cheaper market value than pure shea? Perhaps some of these store owners know more than they’re letting on and profit?

    That said, I’ve never tried pure shea butter. Instead, I like shea nut oil. Less muss and the light feeling helps my hair. Have you considered using that instead, Samara?

    If I don’t require hold then I do prefer the oil over the butter. On http://www.shop.agbangakarite.com both butters are the same price.

  • http://mydreadlocks.com Natasha — MyDreadlocks.com

    Samara, I appreciate the link since it helped me learn even more about Kpangnan butter. Thanks and keep up the great work on your blog!

  • http://www.LifeStarBeauty.com Vida Starr

    This is good info. I’ve been wondering what the difference was between the yellow butter they sell at local beauty supply stores and the organic shea butter (white) that I was ordering online. They both have worked well in my hair so far though. When I make my own products and mix my own ingredients, I feel like I’ve had better results from my organic white shea butter. The smell isn’t nearly as strong as the yellow one was and I didn’t like the way it blended with my other products.

  • http://www.leimo.com.au hair loss and treatment

    Why does shea butter is really good for the hair?

    • http://www.growblackhair.net Samara

      shea butter contains fatty acids that help strengthen, protect and hold moisture in the hair. It also gives the hair a lustrous shine and a soft hold when used to style

  • http://www.facebook.com/MzWanda MzWanda BlessedbytheBest

    lol… I need to print this article & give it to my brother-in-law. He frequents a flea market in Jersey to stock up on oils and “shea butter”. One time he offered me some when I ran out of the pure/untampered shea butter from coastal scents, I looked at that pile of pineapple-like chunk and said “no thanks bro”… lolol…. He tried to convince me that the yellow color is the true color of raw shea butter. Thanks for the confirmation :-)

© Copyright Growblackhair.net 2009-2012. All Rights Reserved.