Shea butter is one of my favorite butters to use in my homemade beauty products and medicinals. It's super versatile, very nutrient-dense, and it doesn't cost a lot.
There are three main types of shea butter you can find: yellow, white (refined), and unrefined/raw.
“Yellow shea butter” is probably not actually shea butter – and if it is, it is probably dyed. Most yellow butter marketed as shea butter is actually African butter, which comes from a completely different tree. DuchessGabrielle on YouTube explains the difference. As she explains, African butter is still good for your skin and hair – it's just not shea butter.
I like both refined and unrefined shea for different purposes.
Refined shea butter is gorgeous. It's creamy and smooths easily into the skin. It has a lighter odor so it doesn't overpower scented hair care and body butter recipes. It does have a lower nutrient content, though, due to the refining process. I use it in cosmetic, body care, and hair care recipes.
Raw or unrefined shea butter has a “grittier” texture and a creamier color. It also has a stronger nutty, earthy odor. I don't find the odor too unpleasant, but many people do. Raw shea butter has a much higher nutrient content than refined shea butter, and for this reason I use it in hair and skincare for dry skin and in medicinal recipes.
Aren't refined fats BAD?
I certainly don't like to eat refined oils/fats/butters, but when it comes to using them externally, I don't have a problem. I just choose raw butters when I really want to get the most nutrient-dense bang for my buck.
That said, when purchasing refined shea butter it's wise to look for one that is processed without chemicals, but those that are refined using clays and natural minerals.
Have you ever used shea butter to make beauty or health products? What kind do you prefer?