Shea butter has been used for centuries in Central Africa. The English name shea is derived from the word se, used by the indigenous people of Central Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Shea butter is an oil extract from the kernel of the shea nut produced by the shea tree. The shea tree is also treasured for its dietary value of the cooking oil and fruit pulp.
Shea butter in its raw state consists of several compounds but the key components are essential fatty acids, saponins and triterpenes as in most plant based butters. These components give shea butter its key features in helping heal and protect the skin from sun damage, seal moisture within the outer skin layer to retain its suppleness and elasticity.
Saponins a key compound of shea butter (approx. 11% compared to 1-2% in olive oil), helps soften the skin and reduce scars.
You get the most benefit from shea butter by maximizing the concentration of all the compounds mentioned and insisting on non-bleached/unrefined shea butter.