Butters & Waxes
Butters are available in various forms; unrefined, refined, and ultra-refined. How the butter is extracted from the nut and how it is subsequently processed determines its final nourishing qualities.
Unrefined (Virgin)– is very sensitive to changes in temperature and can be difficult to work with. It is not uncommon for products made with this butter to have a bit of a grainy feel to them. To qualify as unrefined, the butter must not have passed through any filtering systems using chemicals or other methods that would remove or reduce the natural nourishing components or change its natural properties in any way.
Refined –This butter has been passed through one or more filtering systems. It is often deodorized using chemicals, or other processes like clay filtering, to remove the natural nutty aroma. It may be bleached, either chemically or as a result of the filtering system used to make it whiter in color. It may have a preservative added to it to prevent it from going rancid since the natural antioxidants and vitamins that naturally keep it fresh have been removed. The quality of this shea butter depends on the refining system used and there is no standard in place.
WHY USE REFINED?
- Cost: The pure good stuff is always more costly
- Scent: The smoky, nutty scent of unrefined virgin shea makes it difficult to scent. The aroma of scent blends is changed by the natural scent of shea. Essential oils are very expensive and more need to be used in a product made with virgin shea. Also, since essential oils and synthetic fragrance oils have a limited skin safe amount that should be used, the smoky scent of virgin shea often still comes through.
- Texture: Refined shea is processed to create a softer, smoother textured product that is easier to incorporate it into creams and lotions.
- Ease of use: Unrefined shea is much more finicky and often difficult to work with.