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DIY Whipped Shea Butter [UPDATE]

DIY Whipped Shea Butter [UPDATE]

I’ve never had good skin. When I turned 30, it stopped breaking out all the time, and that’s about the best thing I could say for it. Until the past couple of weeks, that is. I know it’ll never be perfect, but lately it’s pretty good indeed.

Earp even noticed. You look rested, he said.

I blame it all on shea butter, my new favorite thing.

About Shea Butter

UPDATE:

It’s come to my attention that some shea butter is yellow because it contains other oils, including palm oil.

Palm oil is good for your skin, but especially in Southeast Asia, its production is massively damaging to the environment.

Because shea comes from Africa, it’s probably mixed with less harmfully produced palm. However, if you want to be sure of its environmental integrity, look for shea that is ivory in color. Raw shea can be naturally golden colored, but hedge your bets and get the ivory stuff!

Shea butter comes from the nut of the karite tree, native to West Africa. Karite trees don’t produce nuts until they’re several decades old, so nearly all shea butter still comes from Africa. There, it’s called “women’s gold” because it provides employment for so many women.

Raw, unrefined shea butter contains cinnamates and acetates that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It also has caffeic acid, a UV protectant. Plus, it’s high in vitamins A, E, and F, and unsaponifiable fats that absorb easily into your skin, providing moisture without clogging pores.

In Africa, shea is used as an all-purpose oil, including in cooking. Here, it’s a prized beauty product. They say it cures wrinkles, scars and stretch marks. That hasn’t been proven yet, but I’ll tell you one thing: it makes your skin feel and look amazing.

But there’s a catch: when you refine shea butter, it loses many of its beneficial qualities. Including the antioxidants. Most commercial beauty products claiming to contain shea have it in very small amounts, and it’s usually heavily refined.

Shea is rated by grade, from “A” to “F”. You’re very unlikely to find Grade A anywhere in your drugstore. Lower-grade shea butter is still a good moisturizer, but practically all the other benefits are gone.

So I decided to make my own whipped shea butter this year, and give it out to my lady friends. I bought a huge chunk of unrefined shea butter and some essential oils. I also grabbed some extra virgin coconut oil so I could make hair cream for my frizzy friends. I’ve run a few batches now and am really happy with them. So without further ado, here’s how to make shea body butter and hair cream.

How to make whipped shea moisturizer


1. Warm the shea

Scoop shea butter into a metal bowl. Put some water in a pot and place the bowl in it, making sure it doesn’t touch the bottom of the pot. Heat on low heat, stirring.

You really don’t want to overheat the shea, because the more you heat it, the more it loses its antioxidant properties. I like to mash mine with a fork as it heats. As soon as it’s fully mash-able, I take it off the heat. It can have lumps in it, that’s fine.

2. Add oil

Pour in olive oil and vitamin E oil.

I vary the amount of oil added, based on what type of product I’m making. This will be a body butter, so I used more olive oil. For a face cream, stick to the recipe and even try using less olive oil. You can always add more later.

3. Whip!

You probably want to use an electric beater for this, but if you don’t have one, a hand-cranked eggbeater will work.

The shea butter will take on an awesome creamy texture pretty quickly, but don’t stop so soon! You need to keep whipping until it’s cooled to room temperature, and that can take up to 30 minutes.

I usually whip for 5 minutes straight, then let it sit in the fridge 5 minutes. I repeat the process two or three times. Eventually, it’ll take on a very light and frothy texture, and the bowl will no longer feel warm to the touch.

4. Add fragrance

Once your shea butter is all lovely and frothy, add fragrance. Shea has a fragrance of its own, so factor that in when you’re choosing essential oils. I thought this one would be a good body butter, so I went with sweet orange oil and a little rosemary and mint.

Add two or three drops of each oil at a time, then whip well and test it until you like how it smells. Don’t use more than a quarter teaspoon of fragrance oil, or it’ll smell too perfumey.

5. Serve

That’s it! Scoop your shea butter into a container. Since mine will be gifts, I went and bought every single decorative tin or jar from my local thrift stores. I was surprised at how many they had. Give it a shot!

My shea butter gifts will come with some information on raw shea, including the fact that it has a shelf life. It will degrade over time, so let people know they should use it soon! It’s safe for any body part, and even safe if ingested. Not that you should. It will do more good on your elbows and crow’s feet.

How to make whipped shea hair cream

The recipe is the same as above, except you should substitute half of the shea butter with extra virgin coconut oil. Coconut oil, like shea butter, is solid at room temperature. However, it melts as soon as it touches your skin. Don’t be tempted to put it in your moisturizer, though: it’s pretty highly acnegenic.

Shea hair cream is only good for people with curly and dry hair. Nobody else wants to add oil to their hair anyway, right? And it is oily. I use a very small amount when my hair is wet, and only apply it to the ends. It makes my hair strong, shiny and elastic — and because I put delicious flavors in it, it also makes me smell awesome.



No time to make it yourself?

Don’t worry, Chagrin Valley has you covered. Their whipped shea butter is handmade, human-tested, vegan, organic, and totally dreamy.

But be warned: it’s $22 for 4 ounces, and that’s about half what it cost me to make a year’s worth of shea goodies at home.

22 Comments

  • Awesome tutorial! Makes me want to make some now…

  • Awesome! I love doing these for my lady friends too! And I have some nappy hair too so I know all about the amazing coconut oil! Love it!

  • I love shea butter but it’s so expensive in the stores. I’m for sure going to make this as soon as I can figure out where to purchase the raw butter–I’m thinking nearby Glory Bee might have it. They have their shop nearby but they also have an online store. http://www.glorybeefoods.com/gbf/Shop_ProductDetail.cfm?PC=5&PSC=0&P=20662&Product_Name=butter,%20shea&Token=67.171.204.162:{ts_2010-12-10_08:42:42}-415553

  • Oh, yeah, forgot to mention that I love your photos in this post, Jessica.

    • Thank you!!!

      I bought my shea butter on Amazon, you can click the links to find it. But if you don’t want to use Amazon, I know you can find raw shea online for much cheaper than in the store. Just make sure it’s unrefined!

    • Hey,
      Just wanted to let you know that the shea butter you’re using contains palm oil. Pure shea butter is not gold in color, but off white. When I first started making whipped shea butter myself, I couldn’t find a dealer on Amazon that sold butter that was unrefined and palm oil free. Try Coastalscents.com. Their shea is unrefined and additive free.

    • Can we still call it “Women’s Gold”? I liked that part of the story.

    • !!! Thank you Caryn!

      I’m going to take this post away while I look into that. Back soon…

  • This was really worth waiting for. Mom just told me the only thing she really needs is shea butter.

    With all the frizz hairses on both sides of my family tree, I can’t think of a better gift.

    Also, this tutorial is poetry. I want to go play with my rotary beater now.

  • I am going to be looking for some unrefined raw shea butter!! What a great gift idea too.

  • Some wonderful disclosure – I just recieved a yummy-smelling gift of some of The Hun’s Whipped Shea Butter.

    I took whatI consider a very small amount to put on my hands. It spread easily all the way upmy forearms, and then magically sinked in, leaving me with velvety skin almost 8 hours later.

    I am not kidding you. I’m sitting here at work and I can’t stop stroking my skin like a baby that just discovered its own foot.

    This stuff works.

  • [...] trying to grow it out.So I’ve gone back to Dr. Bronner’s, with lots of conditioner and shea butter hair cream. For my dry, thick hair, oil is crucial and I think the baking soda-vinegar thing was just too [...]

  • Does adding the essential oils take away that ‘nutty’ smell completely? I just made some whipped body butter with cocoa mango and shea and olive oil but I do not like the smell!

    • Actually, I found it really hard to mask the shea smell. Try almond oil, it works really well and makes your body butter smell sweet enough to eat. Everything else just added a layer of aroma on top of the shea, but almond seemed to transform it and make it less potentially offensive.

  • Hi! I’ve been dying to make whipped shea for forever, and finally did last night, but it didn’t come out how I had hoped :( It was like pudding but then today after it set became hard. I didn’t use your method of melting the shea or whipping for an extended period of time, I think that will be the key. I want mine to have a whipped cream consistency even after it sets! Does yours? How is the consistency after it sets? Any help would be really great, I want to send these as presents too after I’ve mastered the recipe!

    • Hi Alexandra! Melting seems to help, as does getting the right consistency. If yours was like pudding, it probably had WAY too much oil. Or, you were using a processed type of shea butter.

      Depending on the amount of oil I use, mine has a light consistency but it is never fully “creamy.” It always hardens a bit as it sets. Still if you get it right it’s soft and velvety and very pleasant in texture.

      Good luck!

  • AHHHH thank you so much for responding, yes def think I had too much oil. It was my 1st time so wasn’t sure what to do or expect. Any advice on what I should do w/ my Shea now? I don’t want to waste it, but its not easy to use now. Do you think it could help/work if I melted it then whipped? And I used my Ninja Blender, does it make any difference using that versus my hand blender? Thank You!!

  • I cant find my hand mixer… do you think it’d be ok to use my regular blender?

    • Technically, yes… but getting it out of the blender doesn’t sound too fun… let me know how it goes.

    • Re: cleaning — maybe rinse it out with boiling water and then run it for a minute or so with hot water and a drop or two of dish soap?

  • I melted the shea…but think i think its too melted!! Its been in the blender and fridge and its still liquidy!!! Eck! Putting in fridge for 10min or so then blending for 15minutes, if it doesn’t fluff up I’ll have to toss it :(

    • Alexandra, don’t toss it! Even if it doesn’t get the consistency you want, it’ll still work great as a moisturizer.

      I don’t know how different types of blenders will work, but I think that if it doesn’t set up at room temperature, it’s too oily. If I were you, I’d keep adding more shea to the mixture. Shea is hard at room temp, so eventually it’ll have to set up… right? And even if it doesn’t, it’ll still be useful.

      Can you tell me what your original recipe was, and what the shea looked like when you started? What color was it? Was it hard or soft? What did you add to it?

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