Shea tree also known as Vitellaria paradoxa is indigenous to Africa and distributed in Central - West African countries. The Shea fruit is fairly large and consists of nutritious pulp and oil-rich seed or nut. After drying the nut, Shea butter is extracted. Raw or unrefined Shea butter is off-white or ivory-colored whereas refined Shea butter is white in colour.
It is widely used in cosmetics as moisturizer, salve or lotion. In Africa, Shea butter is used as in food preparation. Chocolate industry uses Shea butter mixed with other oils as a substitute for cocoa butter.
Other uses of Shea butter are for waterproofing wax, for hairdressing, for candle-making, assorted tissue products and as an ingredient in medicinal ointments.