Shea butter is an off-white or ivory-colored fat extracted from the nut of the African shea tree. It is widely used in cosmetics as a moisturizer, salve or lotion. Shea butter is edible and is used in food preparation in Africa. Accounts from as early as Cleopatra's Egypt speak of caravans bearing clay jars of valuable shea butter for cosmetic use. The funeral beds of early kings were carved in the wood of shea trees. Shea butter's skin care and healing properties were first harnessed thousands of years ago.
The history of shea as a precious commodity can be traced back to Ancient Egypt, where shea butter was and continues to be used to protect the hair and skin in the fierce sun and the hot dry winds of African deserts and savannah.