Two cans of shea butter-based body butter are in front of you. They look relatively similar, but the labelling is different. One tin says "unrefined and pure" and the other says "natural and pure". Which can do you choose? What is the difference? Unsure? Here you can find out the differences and what you can look out for when buying a shea product that is as natural as possible.
What is the difference between refined and unrefined shea butter? Quite refined!
According to the law, the packaging of cosmetics (including edible oils) does not have to indicate whether a plant substance has been refined or not. As a rule, you can recognise a refined oil, or in our case shea butter, by the absence of indications such as "cold pressed", "virgin" or "unrefined".
It should be noted, however, that refined shea butter can and may also be labelled "pure" or "natural". This is slightly confusing, but in practice it is allowed. So if you want unrefined, i.e. natural shea butter, you can look out for the following: It should say "unrefined" on the tin, the colour should be light beige or the butter should have its own scent. Because unrefined shea butter, unlike refined shea butter, has its own characteristic scent.
Features for refined products
- Mechanical extraction, partly with solvents
- Ingredients (including vitamins, fatty acids, etc.) are extracted
- Scent-neutral (you don't smell anything) because the natural scent is extracted
- colour; white
- Very heat resistant
Characteristics for unrefined products
- Gentle extraction through traditional production method
- Ingredients (including vitamins, fatty acids, etc.) are preserved.
- Characteristic nutty to smoky scent (often depends on freshness and quality).
- Colour: light beige
- Relatively heat resistant
Why is shea butter refined?
Refined or deodorised shea butter is a chemically processed butter, i.e. fragrances, ingredients and colourings have been removed by machine. This means that various ingredients are lost. But why exactly is shea butter refined in the first place? The reasons are as follows:
- Longer shelf life
- Scent neutral which is an advantage for certain recipes
- Mostly cheaper
- A MUST for use in the food industry
What distinguishes unrefined shea butter?
Unrefined, raw or natural shea butter is a high-quality and gently processed raw material. Mostly the traditional way of processing in the country of origin can be traced back over generations of women. In the case of shea butter, this production is done by hand in an elaborate process. The natural colour, fragrance and ingredients are preserved in this method of production.
So, now you know. I hope it was helpful.