Shea butter was one of the first ingredients I fell in love with. First argan oil, second—shea butter. I kicked things off with a wee tub I found at the St. Lawrence Market, and followed that up with a bulk buy through a shop in Toronto’s Kensington Market. After I finished that lot, I was surprised by how different my first bucket of shea butter from New Directions was in comparison. Now I’ve figured I might as well go and try all the types of shea butter I can get my hands on, and see how they stack up.

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My shea butter collection.

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Unrefined raw shea butter from Ghana, sold by New Directions Aromatics.

Shea Butter 100% Natural—Ghana (New Directions Aromatics)

This natural shea butter comes in a bin of chalky, crumbly chunks. They’re greyish beige colour, and smell quite smokey. When pressed to the skin it’s thick and doesn’t melt to liquid on skin, but softens enough to be massaged in.

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Raw, unrefined shea butter from Burkina Faso sold by New Directions Aromatics.

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Shea Butter 100% Natural—Burkina Faso (New Directions Aromatics)

Even though all these buckets of shea butter sat in the sun in their boxes for the same amount of time, this was the only shea butter that melted—it was totally liquid when I initially opened it. Once it re-solidified, it was marbled white and beige. This one has a lighter scent than the Ghana raw shea butter, with only hints of smokiness and some nuttiness as well, with some sort of dusty notes. When handled it is very smooth and gets closer to a liquid state as you massage it into your skin.

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Virgin Organic shea butter from Ghana, sold by Saffire Blue.

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Shea Butter Virgin Organic—Ghana (Saffire Blue)

This shea butter is from Saffire Blue, and it comes melted and poured into the container. It’s beige and smooth, and relatively smooth. It spreads across the skin smoothly, though it only melts enough to be absorbed and does not come close to liquifying, similar to the raw Ghana shea butter from New Directions Aromatics. This one has a light dusty/smokey/nutty smell—much lighter than the one from New Directions.

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Refined shea butter from Ghana, sold by Saffire Blue.

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Shea Butter Refined–Ghana (New Directions Aromatics)

This refined shea butter comes in white chunks. It smells of mostly nothing, with hints of a sort of generic fat smell. It’s thick and doesn’t melt to a liquid, but just softens as massaged into the skin.

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Refined shea butter from Saffire Blue. The label says it’s from the Netherlands, but I have a hard time believing that.

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Shea Butter, White Refined—Netherlands (Saffire Blue)

As with the other shea butter from Saffire Blue, this one comes melted and poured into the container. It’s white and smells of mostly nothing (just a hint of a sort of refined oily scent). Firm, yet malleable. It liquifies when handled, allowing it to be spread across the skin in a thinner layer.

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