Are you bothered by dry, itchy, cracked skin? Then I'll bet you haven't discovered the wonders of shea butter. About a year ago, I discovered a luxurious shea butter body cream at Bath and Body Works-- "Lay It On Thick". This is really great stuff. It's soft, and it makes my skin feel and smell good. The only drawbacks are: 1) the price--on sale for ~$10/6 oz tube and 2) you can't open doors for about an hour after application, due to extreme slipperiness.
Despite the minor drawbacks, I have been lovin' my shea butter body cream and hoping for another Bath and Body Works sale so I could afford to buy more!
Then came the Gem Show. (You're right. At least for now, all roads in this blog lead to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.) In the African Art Village, a vendor from Ghana was selling tubs of pure shea butter. He used a large butcher knife to cut chunks off of what looked like a 10-inch in diameter butter stump. He was busily plopping bright yellow chunks into plastics tubs, slapping on labels touting the numerous uses and benefits of shea butter, and building an impressive mound of butter tubs for sale.
Initially, I was skeptical. How could this crude yellow stuff which looked like old Crisco be as good as my expensive body cream in the distinctively designed plastic tube? My daughter (always the early adopter), smeared some on my hand and said, "Try it!" I was sold. A picture of Lincoln bought an 8oz tub of shea butter.
Although raw shea butter doesn't smell as good as the expensive body cream and it's a little harder to spread, it works just as well or better on dry skin. Once it's rubbed it, the skin is very smooth (and not as greasy as with the cream). Another plus is if you drop a chunk during application, your dog will happily eat it! (My dog now has her ears perked for the sound of that butter tub opening at bedtime.)
True confessions here: My heels are perpetually dry and cracked, due to Arizona's dry weather and my love of sandals. NOTHING seems to really smooth and sooth the ultra dry skin on my feet (not even the shea butter body cream or other special, super-thick foot creams from Sally's Beauty Supply .)
Commercial pitch: I was amazed at the results of the raw shea butter after just a few days of nightly use. My heels are still cracked, but the shea butter is having an impact.
Out of curiousity, I compared the labels. The BBW cream has 30+ ingredients, the first two being water and petrolatum (yes, spelled correctly); shea butter is about number 12 or so. The tub from Ghana has only one ingredient--raw shea butter.
According to Wikipedia, "Shea butter is a slightly greenish natural fat extracted from fruit of the Shea tree by crushing and boiling. Shea butter is widely used in cosmetics as a moisturizer and an emollient. Shea butter is also edible. It is used as a cooking oil in West Africa, as well as sometimes being used in the chocolate industry as a substitute for cocoa butter."
According to the label on the tub, shea butter has a multitude of uses from the treatment of dry skin to use as sunscreen, anti-aging cream, stress-reducer (probably with a masseuse), or an arthritispain pain releaver. Give it a try. I highly recommend it!