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Sorry But That's Not Real Shea Butter

I recently discovered through a little online research that you just may not be buying pure 100% unrefined authentic Shea Butter! Frightening I know. Shea Butter is a slightly yellowish or ivory-colored natural fat extracted from the nut of the African Shea tree by crushing, boiling and stirring. You may also hear the African Shea tree referred to as the Karite tree (the tree of life).

African Shea butter is most utilized for its amazing ability to renew, repair and protect the skin. It protects and repairs the body from ailments such as eczema, dermatitis, burns, etc. So what does this have to do with natural hair? Shea Butter not only acts as a protectant for skin it also has great moisturizing characteristics.

Shea butter is unique because of its high content of nonsaponifiable (substances that cannot be fully converted into soap by treatment with alkali) fats which act as a natural skin moisturizer. Shea butter is extremely high in Vitamins A, E & fatty acids. It moisturizes skin with all the essential elements it needs for balance, elasticity and tone.

Hair products all over the U.S. are now adding Shea Butter to their list of ingredients and Us Knotty by Nature Divas are no different. [thanks Shawn for the name] Many of us use She Butter as the base ingredient for our conditioners, and our daily hair moisturizers. But are we really purchasing authentic African Shea Butter?

So If Its Not Shea Butter Than What is It?

You may have fallen prey to Shea Butter’s fraternal twin Kpangnan Butter [pronounced "painya"] also know in the streets as Golden Shea, Yellow Shea Butter or African Butter. Kpangnan Butter is a soft, bright, clear yellow powdery type of butter that melts into the skin and gives it a dry, silky feeling. Chances are if your in the U.S. you may have used Kpangnan a time or two. Kpangnan Butter comes from the African Butter Tree which is a totally different tree from the Shea Tree. They are grown in very different regions as well as climates. Kpangnan Butter is easier to find than Shea Butter and is often reproduced quicker. Because of Shea Butter’s rarity Kpangnan Butter is sold cheaper.

So Whats The Difference Between The Two?

  • Kpangnan Butter’s nonsaponifiable value is not as high as unrefined Shea Butter. Both are really great for the skin, however, Shea Butter is better for the hair.
  • Kpangnan Butter has a high fraction of Stigmasterol, which is an unsaturated plant sterile usually found in plant fats like calabar bean, soybean oil, rape seed and cocoa butter. Some research shows Stigmasterol can lower the risk of certain cancers, including ovarian cancer. Extracts of Stigmasterol have also been found to be effective topical anti-inflammatory agents.
  • The consistency of the two are different. Kpangnan is softer – powdery like – leaving you with a drier yet, silky feeling. Shea is a bit harder than Kpangnan and upon application leaves a bit of shine while absorbing into the skin. Often times with Shea Butter you have to let the warmness of your hands melt the butter before applying to your body whereas with Kpangnan you can apply right away.

I hope this answers any doubts you may have had about Shea Butter, just be careful when buying the two so you wont get duped. If you want to see pictures of each you can click here for  Kpangnan Butter and here for Shea Butter.

For an upclose view of Kpangnan Butter you can click here.

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