• Derived from: shea nuts
  • Pronunciation: (Byew-ty-ROS-permum/ PAR-kee-eye)
  • Type: Natural
  • Other names: shea butter

What Is Butyrospermum parkii?

Butyrospermum parkii, also called the shea tree, produces a fruit called the shea nut, which is used to make shea butter, shea butter extract, shea nut extract, or shea oil. The shea tree is indigenous to Africa, and the oils and fats from its fruits have a wide range of uses, including acting as a natural moisturizer, a decongestant, a food ingredient, and even cooking oil.[1,2] Butyrospermum parkii has been used for centuries as a skin treatment in Africa, particularly for newborn infants.[3] Today it is widely used in cosmetics, bath products, makeup, lotion, and hair care products.[4]

What Does Butyrospermum parkii Do in Our products?

Butyrospermum parkii helps bind moisture.[5] Shea contains vitamin E and catechins, which are also found in green tea. As an emollient, it helps soften skin, condition hair, and even moisturize cuticles.[6,7,8]

Why Puracy Uses Butyrospermum parkii

We use organic butyrospermum parkii in our lotions as a moisturizer. The FDA has deemed shea nut oil generally recognized as safe (GRAS), and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review labels shea butter and shea oil as safe.[12,13] Whole Foods has deemed the ingredient acceptable in its premium body care quality standards, and several studies also show shea butter and shea oil are not skin irritants.[14,15] While nuts and some fruits and vegetables may cause allergic reactions in some people, refined shea oil generally poses no significant safety concerns when eaten.[16] There have been no reported topical allergic reactions to shea butter from those with nut allergies.

How Butyrospermum parkii Is Made

Inside the ripened fruit of the shea tree is a seed rich in oils and fats. At the beginning of the harvest season, the fruits are harvested from the trees, and the pulp is removed. The nuts are then dried in the sun, smoked over a fire, or even parboiled to prevent them from germinating and to dry them more quickly.[9,10] After they are dried, the nuts are cracked to expose the shea kernels, which are removed and again dried in the sun. The dried kernels are then ground into a powder that is mixed with water and then pressed to yield the oil.[11]



[1] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
[2] Tella, A. (1979), “Preliminary studies on nasal decongestant activity from the seed of the shea butter tree, Butyrospermum parkii.” British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 7: 495–497. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.1979.tb00992.x
[3] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
[4] Cosmeticsinfo.org
[5] The Shea Project
[6] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
[7] European Commission
[8] Cosmeticsinfo.org
[9] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
[10] The Shea Project
[11] The Shea Project
[12] Food and Drug Administration
[13] Personal Care Council
IBR Forschungs GmbH. Phototoxicity test with "Cetiol SB 45" (Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter) in guinea pigs.” Project no: 10-05-1511-90. Unpublished data. 1990. Unpublished data submitted by the Personal Care Products Council on August 9, 2010, Loden, M and Andersson, AC. “Effect of topically applied lipids on surfactant-irritated skin.” British Journal of Dermatology. 1996;134:215-220, Institut D'Expertise Clinique. “Sensitisation and cutaneous compatibility study of product 408991 02 (scalp conditioner containing 0.1% Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, 0.7% Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, 0.1% Ribes Nigrum (Black Currant) Oil and 0.2% Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil).” Report No. B050427RD9. 6-23-2005. Unpublished data submitted by the Council on Aug 11, 2010, Institut D'Expertise Clinique. “Sensitisation and cutaneous compatibility study of product 609464 18 (cream for very dry skin containing 2% Butyrospennum Parkii (Shea) Butter, 2.5% Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil and 0.25% Ribes Nigrum (Black Currant) Oil).” Report No. B041713RD6. 4-12-2005. Unpublished data submitted by the Council on Aug 11, 2010.
[15] Whole Foods Market
[16] Personal Care Council

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