Shea butter is one of the most ancient natural moisturisers in Ghana, Uganda, and Chad, and it’s now extremely popular in the West. This yellow to white fat is simply the fat from the nut of the Vitellaria paradoxa or shea tree found across Africa.
As a moisturiser, shea butter is uniquely effective, shown to restore the skin’s moisture levels in just 2 hours, and it’s also free from side effects. For example, cocoa butter is also a particularly effective moisturiser thanks to its ceramides, but it’s far too pore-clogging, with a comedogenic rating of 4 out of 5. Shea butter, meanwhile, has a rating of 0 out of 5, and no other toxins, allergies or irritating compounds to speak of.
Even better, shea butter has a mysterious ability to increase collagen levels in the skin. This moisturiser disables the collagenase enzyme, which breaks down existing collagen in humans. The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt even imported shea butter to their pyramids on wagons, for its strong sunscreen ability against the harsh desert sun.
For those reasons, shea butter is in the top 5 natural moisturisers, for acne patients or any natural enthusiasts. But which product should you buy? Here’s 12 shea butter brands which range from great to outstanding:
One – Raw Apothecary
Our first shea butter is one of the first an acne patient should consider buying. It’s an ivory coloured shea butter, handcrafted by villagers in Ghana. The butter is 100% pure and natural, containing no additives, pesticides or chemicals.
Most importantly, Raw Apothecary’s shea butter is unrefined, unheated and non deodorised. This is absolutely vital, because heating shea butter damages some of its greatest acne-clearing compounds: vitamin E, cinnamic acid esters, and polyphenol antioxidants. Furthermore, the collagen-boosting powers of shea butter remain highly mysterious. The specific miracle compound is unknown, and intense heat runs the risk of destroying that compound.
There’s also a small difference between unrefined and raw, as unrefined is filtered naturally through a cheese cloth to remove impurities, including visible specks of fiber from the nut. Raw and unrefined shea butter will both clear acne excellently, and Raw Apothecary fits the bill.
What’s more, a clear sign of raw shea butter is a natural nutty smell, and an ivory colour as opposed to pure white. Raw Apothecary has the classic nutty aroma, according to reviews. Raw Apothecary is also softer and easier to apply than other products – the company must be selecting trees which yield a softer butter.
Raw Apothecary meets all requirements for an acne-friendly shea butter.
Amazon link: Raw Apothecary Ivory Shea Butter.
Two – Molivera
Importantly, the smell and colour of Molivera are correct, being mildly nutty and an off white ivory. As for the official characteristics, Molivera succeeds in every way. It’s unrefined, sourced from Africa, BPA free, and also has a UV protectant bottle to minimise damage from sunlight.
Molivera is also grade A shea butter, a feature you’ll see widely. Grade A is essentially a certificate handed out by the American Shea Butter Institute. It’s given to only the highest quality products they inspect, indicating high nutrition, minimal processing and a proper texture. Grade A shea butter isn’t vital, as other certifications like USDA organic are equally valuable and many companies choose to follow that route, but it’s an excellent feature to have nevertheless.
If you cannot resist the pull of shea butter, Molivera is an excellent product to try.
Amazon link: Molivera Organics Shea Butter.
Three – Plant Guru
Use this brand and you will again enjoy shea butter in its purest form. The only ingredient in this product is Unrefined Ivory Shea Butter, with chemical additives and preservatives completely absent.
The bottle is also UV protective, and the butter is handcrafted by local villagers in Ghana once again. The location is a factor you should always consider with shea butter, because of its impact on the fat profile.
All shea butters contain the same fatty acids, but in shea butters from east or central Africa, the content of oleic acid is significantly higher at 60% plus. In West African countries like Nigeria, Burkina Faso or Ghana, the oleic acid is a mere 40%, and this is preferable. When applied topically, high amounts of oleic acid weaken the skin barrier, leading to irritation and actually reducing moisture.
That’s why most of the products recommended here are sourced from Ghana, and Plant Guru is no exception. Why Ghana in particular? It’s a massive part of their culture, involved with wedding ceremonies, with mothers even moisturising their newborn babies with it. Consequently, they’re the world experts on how to make shea butter organically.
Elsewhere, Plant Guru fits all the requirements. Reports on the smell vary from very faint to moderately nutty yet unique. Plant Guru has no unique gimmick, but remains a perfect shea butter product for acne and skincare.
Amazon link: Plant Guru Grade A Shea Butter.
Four – Key West
The shea butter is from Ghana once again, and in fact, Key West visited 11 different obscure African villages before they found their perfect shea butter trees. The butter is unrefined as it should ideally be, and there’s a 30 day refund guarantee in case you’re not satisfied.
Apparently, Key West contains “all the nourishment your body needs to stay youthful & radiant“, and there’s truth to this, since the declining collagen reversed by shea butter is partly why ageing occurs. Reports on the smell are all in order, and similar to Plant Guru: either just noticeable or mildly nutty or buttery. The colour varies from off-white to cream coloured, a clear sign of being natural and nutritious.
The shelf life is officially 1 year, but possibly up to 2 years. Overall, Key West is a perfect shea butter in every way.
Amazon link: Key West African Raw Unrefined Shea Butter.
Five – Cleopatra’s Choice
It’s an unrefined shea butter, with an ivory colour. When hunting for shea butter, you’ll see the term “ivory” constantly. This refers to the colour, since heavily refined shea butter is a pure, bland white rather than a richer white. However, ivory also means 100% pure shea butter, with the other natural choice being yellow shea butter.
Yellow is also effective for acne, and an acceptable alternative. It’s simply normal, unrefined creamy coloured shea butter mixed with a yellow root of an African tree called Borututu. This root adds some extra antioxidants, but for today, our goal is to cover pure shea butter. Speaking of pureness, Cleopatra’s Choice is free from pesticides, additives, artificial fragrances, BPA and any preservatives.
Meanwhile, the smell is fairly mild and described as being earthy and nutty. Cleopatra’s Choice is another perfect shea butter.
Amazon link: Cleopatra’s Choice Organic Shea Butter.
Six – Better Shea Butter
This shea butter is unrefined, and sourced from the traditional villages of Ghana. It’s also vegan and officially cruelty free, and among the most trusted shea butters, with thousands of enthusiastic reviews.
A bonus with Better Shea Butter is a free eBook you receive containing various recipes. All jars sold contain a secret sticker on the side, with secret instructions for accessing their goldmine of recipes. Better Shea Butter also has some strong recipes on their YouTube channel, with one consisting of shea butter, carrot seed oil, rosehip seed oil, added vitamin E, and jojoba oil. Rosehip seed oil is very rich in vitamin A, while vitamin E prevents clogged pores. Jojoba oil, like shea butter, is an excellent natural moisturiser for acne.
Elsewhere, Better Shea Butter is pure, with no BPA or chemicals. The shelf life is 2 years according to the company, if you keep the shea butter away from direct sunlight and in a cool, dark place.
Quality report: the consensus is a very mild smell, but a natural and nutty one, while the colour is also rich. Occasionally, shea butters which claim to be totally natural and unrefined will have a smell and colour resembling a processed cooking oil, but Better Shea Butter isn’t one of them.
Amazon link: Unrefined Shea Butter by Better Shea Butter.
Seven – Out of Africa
You can buy the pure ivory version, but also a version combining unrefined shea butter with lavender oil. This adds flavouring, but lavender oil has some acne-clearing properties of its own. It reduces inflammation effectively, by inhibiting immune system actors called neutrophils which churn out free radicals and destabilise skin cells. It beats several other essential oils for this, including tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil.
More interesting is lavender oil’s collagen boosting properties, being shown in one study to accelerate collagen formation in closing wounds (and thus healing pimples). Combining lavender oil with shea butter’s anti-collagenase properties could send your skin tone, firmness and youthfulness through the roof.
Out Of Africa is an interesting combination to try, and meanwhile, the shea butter is from Ghana, and unrefined. The butter is free from pesticides, preservatives, BPA and any chemicals. You can also buy Out Of Africa shea butter in isolation if you wish. An alternative to this product is to combine some separate lavender oil with a shea butter of your choice.
Eight – Perfect Body Harmony
Perfect Body Harmony also keeps their shea butter particularly fresh, ordering a new batch for sale every 3 to 5 weeks. Their jar is double walled to ensure maximum protection against the elements, and the customary UV radiation protection is built in as well. Luckily, shea butter is a more stable natural moisturiser than average anyway. It mostly consists of stearic acid and oleic acid, rather than the less stable linoleic acid.
Perfect Body Harmony is once again free from BPA, preservatives, or any chemicals. The one danger they warn of is a nut allergy, and that applies to all shea butters. It’s originally sourced from a nut, so if you have a known sensitivity to almonds or peanuts, test shea butter on your arm first, and definitely avoid eating it.
Perfect Body Harmony is a popular shea butter product, yet still manages to be elite quality.
Amazon link: Perfect Body Harmony Unrefined Raw Shea Butter.
Nine – Zakia’s Morocco Shea Butter with Organic Argan Oil
Argan oil is one of the richest oils in vitamin E, which prevents both dead skin cells and oil from getting lodged in your pores. Argan oil is also a top quality hyperpigmentation remedy, inhibiting two of the key enzymes behind melanin accumulation. Shea butter is widely speculated to end hyperpigmentation but there’s currently no evidence. Likewise, argan oil has no known ability to increase collagen. You’re getting the best of both worlds with this acne-clearing recipe.
As for the cream itself, it’s very soft and malleable, as it combines a liquid oil with a solid butter. Both ingredients are unrefined and pure themselves, with no fillers or additives accompanying them. Argan oil also joins shea butter in the non comedogenic club, scoring 0 out of 5, so there’s no added risk of clogging pores.
Zakia’s Morocco is another promising treatment for an experimental skin-enhancing enthusiast.
Amazon link: Shea Butter with Organic Argan Oil.
Ten – Sky Organics
Certified organic by the USDA, and as Grade A by the American Shea Butter Institute. Sky Organics is unrefined, BPA free, preservative free, imported from Ghana, and effectively perfect for acne and skincare.
Sky Organics also has a recommended recipe for clear skin maniacs: a combination with coconut oil and almond oil, and your choice of essential oil. Is this a decent recipe? Coconut oil has a big flaw for acne, its comedogenic rating of 4 out of 5, but also strong antibacterial properties. Being mixed with shea butter should make the side effects more tolerable. Almond oil, meanwhile, is nothing incredible but has a high content of vitamin E.
The smell of Sky Organics is also above average; people like the smell, yet still comment on the unique and nutty aroma. This is an Ivory shea butter once again, and the reviews are mostly excellent, with customers satisfied with both the freshness and the moisturising results. Sky Organics is yet another great shea butter brand for acne.
Amazon link: Organic Shea Butter By Sky Organics.
Eleven – Plant Origin
Its characteristics are all correct, being unrefined, pure and chemical free. Plant Origin’s shea butter is apparently lovingly harvested by local Ghanaian women, from only the finest trees, giving them a stable source of income. Plant Origin even takes care to protect the local ecosytem and prevent soil erosion.
If you read the label closely you’ll also discover that shea butter has a sun-protection factor (SPF) of 6. The SPF figure measures how many extra minutes of sun exposure you can gain per 1 minute of exposure without being burnt, so a score of 6 equals an extra hour every 10 minutes.
Since sun exposure can worsen acne as well (how much depends on how strong your skin is), the SPF is yet another bonus power for shea butter: it’s like a natural sunscreen and that’s why the Pharaohs loved it. The smell and texture of Plant Origin is also top quality, resembling a pure and wholesome shea butter in every way possible.
Amazon link: Plant Origin Unrefined Shea Butter.
Twelve – Mary Tylor Naturals
The name Mary Tylor Naturals is accurate, as it doesn’t get more natural than this. Mary Tylor Naturals is unrefined, and pure, with the single ingredient being 100% unrefined Shea Butter. It’s imported from villages in Ghana and packed in the USA. The colour is officially Ivory and according to Mary Tylor Naturals, the colour varies depending on the harvest, from an off white or light ivory to a pale gray or a pale green colour. Mary Tylor Naturals recommends that you refrigerate your shea butter if you live in an area above 74 degrees F.
This is another shea butter where people love the smell, with some calling it “wonderful” and others confirming a mild, nutty aroma. Seasoned shea butter users have written of its high quality and the reviews are almost all excellent. If the idea of uneven chunks in a big bag appeals to you, so that you can primitively carve up the pieces yourself, Mary Tylor Naturals is a great shea butter product to buy.
Amazon link: Mary Tylor Naturals Organic Shea Butter.
Overall, buying a top quality shea butter for acne and skincare is mindlessly easy nowadays.
Here you have 10 excellent pure shea butter products, and 2 experimental combinations which also have a strong chance of succeeding. If you’re determined to experiment with shea butter, failure is not a possibility, unless you never needed shea butter in the first place.
It’s interesting how Ghana utterly dominates the market on unrefined shea butter. Their old traditions, like whipping the groom before a wedding to test his loyalty to the bride and healing the wounds with shea butter, must have given them massive expertise and allowed them to make the best shea butter imaginable.
However, any West African unrefined shea butter is a great choice: Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Gambia, and Senegal are great sources. Shea butter from countries like Chad and Nigeria may still increase collagen, but have higher amounts of oleic acid and are more prone to irritating your skin.
Thanks for reading!