Shea Yummy


This is my new summer moisturizer. I’ve always loved shea butter, but I had never found one that fit all my criteria (fair trade, organic, and unrefined).

Made from the nut of the shea tree that grows in West Africa (above), shea butter is naturally high in antioxidants, super-moisturizing, and makes skin really, really soft. The shea tree is not cultivated (so nuts are wild harvested) and takes about 40 years to mature. The tree is considered sacred and so are the nuts, which can be eaten.

I usually use olive or other veggie oils doused with aromatherapy after I shower because my skin is so dry, which works pretty well. But plain shea butter makes my skin silky (like they say in the commercials…but this is for real.)

Robyn Tisdale Scott, R.PH., Pharm.D. makes the Purely Natural shea butter (top picture) and she explains:

“Most commercially available shea butter products use refined shea butter and therefore lack the vital healing factors needed to provide true therapeutic benefits. This is because they are chemically extracted using dangerous petroleum by-products (hexane), and dangerously refined by bleaching, neutralized with toxic lye, and extremely over-heated.

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About Starre Vartan
Starre Vartan is editor-in-chief of and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life.


  1. Socialpyramid says:

    I never knew what shea butter came from. Like cork, cinnamon and many other natural goodies it takes a very long time to develop. Few people think about that when they slather on the creams, poke pins in corkboard above the washing machine or pick up a treat from the local Cinnabon (where Azrael Abyss works).

  2. indiechick says:

    I think it is sad that this is a green site. I looked through the archives and some of your blog team is great. but you and a few others are only talking about fashion and the high life. I see few things that have to do with lofty ideals such as living with less. sorry that your skin is dry but really, do you think that creams and makeup, underwear and parties are going to make the earth feel better or just you?

  3. Hey indychick-
    You’re not the first to make your point on this site! The mission here at Eco Chick is to mix it up, some serious, some fun, because that’s what life is all about. I’ve been a freelance writer on science and environmental topics for about 6 years now and my primary mission is to get green ideas to the mainstream. I’ve written both serious and light articles about alternative energy, nut allergies, toothpaste and snacks, and worked at a variety of environmental and animal-rights orgs.

    Most people, unless they are the ‘choir’ that is already convinced that their choices make a difference, are very turned off to environmentalism and thinking about the Earth when they make decisions. That’s because much of the green movement has meant ugly clothes, tasteless food, and doom and gloom all the time (to them! I’ve been a veggie treehugger since I was 15, and I never saw it that way, but that IS the perception). The point is the green movement suffers from an image problem that’s not based in reality. To bring new people to the ideas of being environmentally conscious means appealing to them, not making them feel bad, but giving them positive options.

    So you take something like shea butter- seems silly right? Well, obviously you’ve never suffered from eczema or other severe dry skin. And I’ll bet you’re not a person of color, either. Many African Americans use shea butter in quantity both on their skin and on their hair, and it’s not just for vanity, it’s needed. I actually NEED a pretty decent moisturizer myself, otherwise my skin gets dry and itchy and sometimes will crack. Shea butter (if unrefined) has pretty significant natural properties that work better than anything the dermatologist will give to you. A lot of people use a lot of shea butter, and getting it from a source that’s fair trade, that doesn’t use toxic chemicals to refine it and is organic IS important.

    Because it is the little things that matter. If they didn’t my being vegetarian for 13 years would be totally pointless. After all, I’ve only saved a couple hundred animals from suffering and death, and mitigated a tiny amount of animal sewage runoff that pollutes our streams, and kept only a little methane out of the air…..I think that underwear and moisturizers and food and shoes DO matter. And the partying? Well, you know what they say about Jack and all work and no play….

  4. Hi,
    What you say about shea butter makes total sense. Shea butter helped my cracked p feet almost instantly. It is ridiculous how much they charge for tiny jars of cream that don’t even come close in quality. You might also want to try virgin coconut oil. I mix them up sometimes. coconut oil is great for healing. Short and medium chain fatty acids in it have antifungal and antibacterial properties, I started taking it to stop yeast infections and so far it is working (yeast free for half a year and I didnt change anything else)

    I can’t help but comment about saving animals via vegetarianism, the sad truth is no animal (including humans) can survive without using up another animal’s life. Life involves death whether we like it or not.

    Animal ‘factorys’ are a horror story and completely unjustified I know, but realize that in clearing land to grow vegetarian food, we’re robbing other animals from their food and habitat, hence killing them. And ask any farmer about how many small animals die (like rabbits) in the harvesting process (caught up in the machines) or how many pests they have to kill.

  5. I love this argument. It is very interesting and there are so many issues involved. I have been vegan, vegetarian, carnvierous. I have tried wheat-free. dairy-free, sugar-free, etc. It is indeed a complex subject and saying “I am a vegetarian so I am therefore helping the earth,” is usually challenged by the multiplicitous issues facing today’s eater. Monoculturing, wildlife displacement, and the use of fossil fuels are significant issues in the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle as well as for those who eat meat/dairy/poultry. Of course you could grow your own or use CSA’s. You could also raise your own animals – developing a personal relationship with the organisms that feed you.

    Then there is the debate over nutrition. Some feel animals – their hormones – their flesh – were never meant to be ingested by humans. Others feel that we need animal proteins for good health. I met a woman in one of my favorite health food stores who was living on raw food – vegetables only. She told me that there was enough protein in vegetables to sustain her.

    Obviously moderation plays a huge part in anyone’s life who wants to minimize their footprint. But what to eat seems to be an open-ended dialogue for many.

  6. This is one of the things I love about EcoChick: not just great blogs, but great product recommendations. My wife has been on the same search you have, and I think Shea just got three new customres (at lesat). Thanks! I mentioned your blog over on my own, btw:

  7. Thanks for the comment! I try everything I recommend (not just putting stuff out there like magazines) and personal care products are one of my favorite things to try out and research. Starting from the Body Shop when I was 14, I have no idea where this mini-obsession came from, but I always think when I step in the shower, that it’s not just dirty skin or garden earth on my feet that’s going down the drain- it’s whatever is in my shampoo, soap, and conditioner that goes down there too. Having grown up next to a wetland (literally my play area as a kid- I was covered with mud ALL the time!) I think I’m extra cautious with what I put down the drain because in my case, our septic field emptied out not too far from the swamp (which was built before there were stringent regulations like today). Everything in my house was vetted for how it would affect our septic tank and also the water in the swamp, which drained into one of my town’s major lakes that I loved to swim in. I think from an early age it had me thinking about where my water came from (artesian well that tapped an underground stream, whose flow would vary) and where it went.

  8. Socialpyramid says:

    Good point, Starre. That’s a great example of a watershed where you can see what is happening. For most people, sewers or drains take everything they flush far away. Of course, it all ends up in one of a few places: lake, ocean, groundwater. The flow patterns might seem complicated and unseen, but it’s pretty simple. Flush or throw something away, and it doesn’t disappear. It goes somewhere else.

  9. Danielle says:

    Kays says:

    “I can’t help but comment about saving animals via vegetarianism, the sad truth is no animal (including humans) can survive without using up another animal’s life. Life involves death whether we like it or not.”

    Well that is obviously untrue, unless you consider plants an “animal”. There are many vegetarian animals in the world, and millions of humans not only CAN survive without taking animal’s lives for food, but they DO! So how can you justify or prove your statement that is against both common sense and common knowledge?

    “Animal ‘factorys’ are a horror story and completely unjustified I know, but realize that in clearing land to grow vegetarian food, we’re robbing other animals from their food and habitat, hence killing them. And ask any farmer about how many small animals die (like rabbits) in the harvesting process (caught up in the machines) or how many pests they have to kill.”

    So, what do you suggest people eat then? I agree that largescale intensive mono-crop agriculture is not very green or positive, but what do you think farm animal’s eat and where do they get their food (being that they’re vegetarian). So how is it a better solution to eat both the vegetarian food and the animals as the majority of people do? The majority of vegetarian food grown is fed to farm animals, so what is your solution? Agriculture is hardly the only thing land is cleared for.

  10. All the talk about shea butter. I hope you will check out Daisy Blue Naturals shea butter…..the real deal and reasonable, also purchased fair trade from women in Africa. I would be happy to answer your quetions….all the daisy blue products soaps, shampoos lotions etc. laundary soap, etc are wonderful for us and our natural environment and they support families/women in small business here in the USA. http://www.3623.daisybluenaturals includes a mystory link and photo a family with the littlest having sufferd from eczema since birth now doing great with her skin!

  11. Hi Starre, I found your blog on The Daily Green, I am really enjoying it.

    I thought I’d pop in and mention that one of the greatest things for true natural skin care is the ability to buy all kinds of raw, natural ingredients online these days, that are easy to put together yourself or as you are doing, use as is.

    A lot of people are doing it, but not nearly as many as could be, or probably would be if they knew how easy (and fun!) it is.

    I have a site that contains info, a blog and ingredients as well at

    I am posting your website on my blog, my readers will enjoy it.

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