Monday, November 7, 2011

Yellow Shea Butter VS White Shea Butter

I am often asked what is the difference between Yellow or White Shea Butter, which is better yata yata... First shea butter comes in those small nuts and the color is an off white or biegey or ivory kind of color. They parboil the shea nuts and then it goes to a milling process. You can actually search for videos of women making the shea butter in a more detailed process (google or U tube). I am not going that far into the details just briefly to explain the yellow coloring.  So the yellow and white come from the same Shea Nuts but are processed differently. For the yellow shea butter, a root from the borututu tree is added in the milling process, and gives it that tumeric yellow color.  Some think palm oil is added to give it that yellow color but no palm oil is required to make yellow shea butter, it goes through the same process as the white shea butter. Therefore they both have same qualities. FYI some african make a tea from the bark of the borututu trea that is said to help with liver functions.

So again, the yellow and white shea butter are from the same Karite Tree but are procesed differently.  The Karite tree is grown in Central and Western Africa. Some people confuse Kpangnan African Butter with Shea Butter because it is also yellow.  You will find some vendors selling this butter under the name Yellow Shea Butter, most don't know the difference but some do, but will tell you it is the same because of the popularity of Shea Butter.  Kpangyan Butter is grown in Central Togo and is used for skin care.

Now Shea Butter also has different grades, Grade A is usually reffered as the white unrefined 100% Raw Shea Butter it can be consumed and used in the comestic arena. It contains more shea nuts than grade B sheabutter. Now Grade B shea butter comes in white and yellow but has *less shea nuts ( I know kind of hard to explain), it actually seems softer than grade A. Grade B shea butter can not be used for consumption only in cosmetics. * I think the meaining of less nuts is that through the process the Shea Butter Nuts get smaller. So that is what's meant by it has less shea butter. Remember they parboil the nuts, let them dry, sort them, mill them, boil them, cover and let them sit again, so as the process goes on the butter balls get smaller.( Sorry trying to explain as simple as possible.)

Refined Shea Butter - cleaned, bleached, and deorderized - can not be used in cold process soap but can is usually added to cosmetics such as lotions and creams.
Unrefined Shea Butter - as it is smells nutty and is off whitish, can be used in cosmetics and cold process soap.

There is even Organic Shea Butter, this where some might disagree with me which is fine, I think that's a bunch of Hooplah. If its is 100% Raw Shea Butter then it is just the same quality as Organic, it is the same Karite tree. I feel its just another reason to charge you extra money.


  1. Thank you for the info=) I love shea butter and use it for everything! We use it for night face cream, lotion, diaper cream, on burns and cuts and rashes.

  2. Thanks for explaining. I have been researching all day and you have cleared up a lot of the confusion.

  3. Thanks - like Shun31 I've been trying to discern the difference, and the internet is a confusing place.

    Just a note about the organic - if something is organic it means it was not treated with any chemicals and does not contain any gmos (genetically modified organisms). I know it doesn't seem like a big deal, but in order to create plants that are resistant to weed and bug killers, the genetic make-up must be changed, and in some cases a small sample of that weed-killer is added to the seed in order to make it resistant.

    The reason this is concerning is that we don't know how this actually affects people. However tests conducted recently in rats found that GMO corn was actually causing them to grow tumors. So I would advise anyone to pay a little extra for organic.

    Here's a link to the tumor article if you're interested:

    1. Thank you for the extra information Nabila. I have no problem with organic food as the amount of pesticides that are used are ridiculous. As far as the Karite Trees (Shea Butter Trees) from what I could find are grown in the wild and without pesticides. Shea Plantations have failed thus far. So to me people are trying to get over with the term organic on Shea butter. However, buying the organic Shea Butter certifies that your getting grade A White Shea Butter.

    2. Organic does NOT mean that the plant is NOT a GMO, and GMO does not mean the plant is not organic. GMO means that the organisms DNA has been altered, whereas organic means that there is little or no pesticides used on the plant or that the soil has not been in contact with pesticide for the past THREE years. If a plant is not organic it can still be a GMO, and if the plant is not a GMO it can be organic. Don't confuse the two because they mean completely different things.

    3. I'm sorry Farzad but you are incorrect. No gmo plant can be labeled organic at this point in time. Some companies have tried to change that but they haven't as of yet. However they can label gmo plants as "all natural" because there are no regulations on that terminology. So right now certified organic items must not use pesticides or come from gmo crops.

    4. Lee, that is false. A product can be labeled "Organic" if it is a GMO. Only if it specifies "100% Organic" can you be sure that it is not a GMO.

    5. In my experience driving around the farms of Togo and Ghana, there didn't appear to be a lot of fertilizer or pesticide use going on. Most orchards are probably small compared to farms in the US and are small businesses for families and villages. Fertilizer and pesticides are very costly, and not something most farmers can afford.

  4. Hi I just wanted to let you know that refined shea butter can be used in cold processed soaps and it is usually the preferred shea for that purpose....

  5. What company do you buy your Shea Butter from bulk in? Is it Grade A, unrefined?
    Thank You

  6. I only have access to two brands:
    Taha & Okay
    Is either unrefined? Which one would be best for an oily/sensitive skin?

  7. I use shea butter but still have dry skine and wrinkles all over my body am only 21 pls help me

  8. Asem, it may be something that you need to address internally as well. Try drinking lots of water and using a collagen for dry skin and wrinkles. Here is the amazon link for what I use:

    Additionally, try putting your oil of choice on your body right when you get out the shower, while you're still wet, then dry off. Doing all that should GREATLY help your skin. :-)