Review: Out Of Africa Raw Shea Butter (not food, but it may as well be!)

I have dry skin.  I always did.

It was a great thing as a teenager, because – and, please don’t start to hate me now, I barely ever had any spots.  So long as I washed my face and did a minimal amount of maintenance a teenager is bothered to do to her face, I did not need powder, or foundation, or even concealer.

Now I am no longer a teenager, and I still can go around barefaced.  In fact, the other day I got a flattering “if I had skin like yours, I’d not wear makeup either…” from a lady at least 10 years younger than me, which totally made my day (thanks!).  And in a large part that has to do with eating right, sleeping enough, not binging on alcohol, and not smoking – and I should write a post about how all that works, but that is for another day.  This here is a review, after all!

So, while I still don’t have spots, my skin is still dry – and, unfortunately, that leaves it open to environmental stress and free radicals and temperature changes (try going out from a heated Swedish apartment in mid-winter – easily a drop of 30+ degrees Centigrade in a space of a few seconds!), and generally all those things that cosmetics companies yammer at you about, and promise that their product will be the one to prevent the “insert-number-here signs of aging“.

I don’t buy that [bleep].  I have degrees in biology and chemistry, and I can read a darned label (and yes, all those cosmetics come with boxes, labels or inserts which tell you what’s in them, though they’d dearly want it to not be obligatory, and it is – thank you, labelling regulations!).  And I know full well that most of what is on that label is nothing I want on my skin.  But, see point A – my skin is dry, so I need something on my skin to protect it.  What’s a girl to do?

Well, this girl tends to buy her own oils, or shop with those brands that don’t have words I need to have a chemistry degree to understand on their label – not slamming all cosmetics companies here, you know – some are really very good!.  But many, sadly, are not.  I mean, why should I buy a “moisturizing shea butter lotion” with 97% [random stuff and water] and 3% shea butter, if I can get … shea butter?  No reason.

Out Of Africa Shea Butter Tin

On advice from a friend, I went and ordered a tin of unrefined, raw and unscented shea butter from Out Of Africa online.  If you are in North America, you can either find a shop that stocks them, or buy this directly from their website, but I had to go through an internationally-shipping site.  It wasn’t really any hassle, and after about a week of waiting for the package, I got my paws on this stuff.  And began to use it immediately – obviously.

After about a week of use, I have to give it a 9/10 rating, and it’d be a 10 if I had ordered the scented variant that my friend had.  So, a 10 for the Graperfruit-scented variety (tin pictured) at least.

What is the downside?

It’s utterly minor.  I realised that I do not like the scent of raw shea butter.  No, it is not bad, and a lot of people like it – but I think it is too nutty for my taste.  And, the scented (with natural oils) variant that my friend had, it had no trace of the nutty scent, so don’t be put off by this.  Also, if you do like warm, nutty scents, you may well go nuts for this as it is (punny, ha ha!).  Mind you, even as it is, the scent is very faint and disappears almost immediately on application, but I think what I will do is take some of it, heat it gently on a water bath till it’s stirrable, and mix in a drop or two of Provencal lavender essential oil I have, then let it set in a tin or jar before using.  If I am not too lazy – it really isn’t that much of an issue.

There is another thing which isn’t a downside, but it ought to get mentioned – shea butter is thick.  If you aren’t used to using raw vegetable butter on your skin (such as coconut, cocoa etc.), this may be a surprise, but worry not – it melts on contact with your skin, so when you warm it up and spread it on your hands and pat it on, it goes onto skin without a problem.

The upsides?  Loads of those!

First of all, to those of you who are ethically-minded, this is organic, environmentally-friendly harvested, etc., etc., read the details on their site.  I won’t go into all their certifications, but they are enough to make me feel good about paying for it.

Second, the price – it’s reasonable.  In these not-so-easy economic times, having something which doesn’t break the bank is a plus.  And for that price, it comes in an attractive and practical tin which fits into your handbag if you get the smaller size, for use on the go – as lip, face, hand, or general moisturizer.

Third, and more importantly – it does amazing things to my dry skin.  You need just about half a pea-sized amount to cover face and neck.  You put it in your palm, stir it with a finger to warm it up, and then spread it between your hands and pat onto clean, towel-dry skin.  Including around the eye – no irritants in this.  It soaks right in, and doesn’t even leave a greasy shine, and it feels – trust my spoiled self! – wonderful.  Great.  Insert other positive adjectives.  I now see why the cosmetic companies advertise their products as containing shea butter – but it’s even better to just have the 100% premium ingredient!

Fourth, it’s food-grade.  You could, if you wanted, eat it (at least the unscented version – the ones with essential oils mixed into them may taste of those and those don’t always taste good).  It is like unrefined coconut oil in that it is, among other things, a food product – meaning, it does not contain anything that would make you sick if you absorbed it through your GI tract – and thus, I am quite happy to let my body absorb it through the skin.

Fifth, better yet – it does not trigger my boyfriend’s nut allergies.  T is allergic to all nuts and peanuts, except coconuts and almonds (which aren’t true nuts), but this does not bother him at all.  So while I don’t make any guarantees, chances are, if you are nut allergic, this may work.

So far, it has made my skin elastic and smooth, and the fine lines I’d been seeing creeping up (they tend to every time the central heating kicks on and the air gets dry) have disappeared from view.  I’m not making huge claims of this making them go away or anything, it’s more that the skin gets moisturized, and it lasts all day from one application – so that the lines neither get a chance to show up much, nor get worse.  This is just from one week of use, mind you – who knows, it may wow me further in a few weeks from now (I’ll update the post, I promise!).

P.S.  I also bought a vanilla 30% shea butter lip balm from the same place.  Wow.  Just wow.  And yay!  My vanillaholic self rejoyces!

And now please excuse me – I have a face to wash, and shea butter to put on it.  I look forward to that!

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5 thoughts on “Review: Out Of Africa Raw Shea Butter (not food, but it may as well be!)

  1. That sounds more delicious than anything. I’d scoop it into my mouth. Yeah, I agree with you about the rubbish they put into those creams. Even a no-brainer person like me knows it’s rubbish…. all that fancy screw-your-mind lingo. Pretty suspicious when they can’t put it in simple terms.
    Wouldn’t it be funny (probably not) if your boyfriend kisses you on the cheek and breaks out in rashes? :D

    1. Nah, it’d not be that funny but we did know he didn’t have a reaction to shea-butter containing stuff before I ordered a whole load of this, so played it safe! ;)

      I hear they do use shea butter in food in Africa, or at least did traditionally. I think it’d make an ok cooking oil, but it’s a bit pricey for that use and not really special enough the way coconut oil is (I adore cooking in coconut oil, which I am sure is easy to get in Malaysia!).

      As to screw-your-mind lingo – it annoys me every time they come out with a new product and stick a “contains amazing new scientific breakthrough bla bla something-somes that will rejuvenate your skin…” I mean, how stupid do they think people are? (OK that may be a rhetoric question…)

      P.S. You are not a no-brainer. :P

  2. Awww … I wish my school teachers had said that … the PS part :D
    Funnily enough, cooking with coconut oil isn’t big over here. I’ve never really questioned why. Now I really have to find out. We use a lot of palm oil based stuff tho. I remember as a kid, coconut products were popular but I believe our palm oil industry is much bigger these days. Most coconut based raw materials are imported to Germany at that time. Time to do some research.

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