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Organic Unrefined Shea Butter Vs. The Refined, Bleached Version

For centuries, dating as far back as Cleopatra, shea butter has been used for multiple purposes. It conditions the skin and hair and protects them from harsh dry climates. It is also traditionally used for soothing sprains and strains and for its anti-inflammatory properties. New research is confirming natural shea butter to be a versatile active ingredient for skin anti-aging, moisturizing and healing. Everything from wrinkles and stretch marks, to rashes, blemishes, and muscle aches can benefit from its use. However, according to the American Shea Butter Institute, when shea butter is refined and bleached by the use of heat and chemicals, like most shea butter products on the market are, it loses most, if not all of its healing properties. Eleven Seven's Shea Soufflé is made from pure natural organic shea butter that is certified Fair Trade. In the traditional method of extracting shea butter, the shea kernel (known as the karite nut) is picked, cracked, grilled and then pounded. It is boiled in water until the fresh butter rises to the surface, then it's scooped into gourds and left to cool and set. This is all done by hand in a process that has been done for centuries. Often times an expeller-type press is used to crush the nuts which produces more butter and can save hours of time. These are both superior extraction methods as they are done without the use of dangerous chemicals and synthetic agents. The result is known as "unrefined", "raw", or "virgin" shea butter. When shea butter is extracted with the toxic petroleum-based chemical "hexane", traces of the solvent may remain in the butter. Currently, the market is saturated with butters extracted with hexane. This process turns the butter a whitish color and takes out the distinctive natural odor - which provides a good way to detect if the product is processed. In the refinement process, shea butter is exposed to heat of up to 270 degrees in order to remove its characteristic nutty smell, and chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and sodium carbonate are mixed in and added to the shea butter. When shea butter is bleached, it goes through an acid treated filter at high temperatures. These actions remove the natural essential fatty acids, as well as valuable proteins and minerals, which are bountiful in Eleven Seven's Shea Soufflé.

Recommendations of the American Shea Butter Institute
The American Shea Butter Institute takes a definite stand regarding the "Refined Vs. Unrefined" contest. On their website they say: "In the U.S., some alter their shea butter in an attempt to give it a better fragrance and texture. Others alter shea butter for economic reasons. These alterations may disturb or in some cases destroy the natural integrity of the product. While altered shea butter may smell nicely, or when mixed with less expensive ingredients may cost much less, in many such cases it has lost significant properties…we now know that poor quality shea butter is ineffective in healing many of the skin conditions" listed on this site.
They go on to describe the benefits of the "real thing", saying: "Shea butter will provide improvement in all the conditions listed below…The amount of time required for optimal results with various conditions may vary with each condition. Wrinkles for example require 4 to 6 weeks of daily use. Itching is relieved immediately."These conditions include: "Dry skin, skin rash, skin peeling after tanning, blemishes and wrinkles, itching skin, sunburn, use with shaving cream for a smooth shave, small skin wounds, skin cracks, tough or rough skin on feet, cold weather, frost bite, stretch mark prevention during pregnancy, insect bites, muscle fatigue or aches, skin damage from heat, and skin allergies like poison ivy." Within a few weeks, dull, grayish complexions give way to smoother, clearer skin. Skin thinning is combated due to shea butter's ability to reactivate collagen synthesis. Shea butter is a versatile product bearing excellent anti-aging, soothing, healing and moisturizing properties, but only the organic, pure, unrefined natural form like that found in Eleven Seven's Shea Soufflé can deliver all of these benefits.
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