Shea butter has several traditional uses in Africa but only recently has been exported to other continents.
In Africa, shea butter is used as a cooking lard, as a water proofing wax, for hairdressing and for candle-making; and also as an ingredient of medicinal ointments.
It is also used by makers of traditional African percussion instruments to increase the durability of wood (such as that of carved djembe husks and gourds) and leather binds.
The main industrial use of shea butter outside Africa is in cosmetics, such as moisturizer creams and emulsion, and hair conditioners for dry and brittle hair.
It is also used by soapmakers, typically in small amounts (5-7% of the oils in the recipe), because of its property of leaving a small amount of oil in the soap.
Shea butter is also used as an ingredient in chocolate fillings.
Shea butter is used as a base for medicinal ointments, and has been claimed to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Shea butter has been claimed to be effective treatment for the following conditions: fading scars, eczema, burns, rashes, severely dry skin, dark spots, skin discolorations, chapped lips, stretchmarks, wrinkles, and in lessening the irritation of psoriasis.
Shea butter has been used as a sunblocking lotion, although the level of protection against the sun's ultraviolet radiation is extremely variable, ranging from nothing to approximately SPF 6.
In Nigeria, shea butter is used for the management of sinusitis and relief of nasal congestion. This is due to its hydrating properties which helps in relaxing the tension in the face skin thus easing respiration.
Organic or standard shea butter - karite
All African shea nuts are from willd trees and nobody in Africa would use chemicals or fertilizers for 2 reasons: no use and it's too expansive. Same to process the shea nuts almonds. To ask for an organic certifcation is to knock out of the market all the villages women associations which cannot afford to pay the Western certification companies. Furthermore anybody who knows how Africa runs can see an organic certification is mostly a marketing argument.