Known as “Mother Nature’s Conditioner” and the “skin superfood”, shea butter has become a staple for many worldwide. The high concentrations of fatty acids and vitamins found in shea butter makes it an ideal cosmetic ingredient for softening, conditioning, toning, and soothing the skin.
Handcrafted in African countries like Burkina Faso, Mali, and Ghana, the natural product is extracted from the nut of the shea tree, having off white or ivory colour. In The Gambia, the natural commodity has become an industry of its own and a source of income for many.
Discussing the business of shea butter in The Gambia, Seedy Camara, a shea butter vendor, told The Chronicle that the business has proven to be a lucrative one despite some expenses. Camara shares that because shea butter is often times imported from countries like Mali, it is a bit expensive and the profit might be minimal.
Eliza who has been in the shea butter business for over a decade details that business intensifies during the harmattan season.
“Many people do buy and utilize the shea butter, but during harmattan people buy it to mix in their creams…or even buy the locally packaged to use for their skin, lips or hair.”
Shea butter is also known to have anti-inflammatory and healing properties aiding in treating wrinkles, burns and scars. Fatou Jallow, a 50-year-old woman, told The Chronicle that shea butter has been her product of choice for years, not only as a moisturiser, but as a healing agent as well.
“Many people think shea butter is just for moisturizing, but no, for me shea butter is also a natural healing product. I suffer from joint pain during the cold season, but since I started applying the shea butter all over my body, I have experienced a lot of relief.”
For Ida Manneh, shea butter is essential to her hair routine as it helps her avoid breakage especially during the harmattan months.
The usage of shea butter is shifting and expanding, and with it local vendors are changing up the way in which they package and market it. With all of its nutritional benefits, the business of shea butter is booming.
WAYS TO INCLUDE SHEA BUTTER IN YOUR DAILY ROUTINE:
- Apply to feet before bed
- Buy products that include shea butter in its ingredients
- Use on sore/raw noses during a cold or flu
- Mix the shea butter with your body lotion
- Apply on the hair or scalp (in mixture with other natural ingredients)
- Use it to make a face mask by mixing it with honey and grapeseed oil. This helps in getting rid of wrinkles and acne.