Shea butter (/ˈʃiː/ or /ˈʃiː.ə/) is an off- white or ivory-colored fat extracted from the nut of the African shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa). Shea butter is a triglyceride (fat) derived mainly from stearic acid and oleic acid. It is widely used in cosmetics as a moisturizer, salve or lotion. Shea butter is edible and is used in food preparation in Africa and also as a prophylactic. Occasionally the chocolate industry uses shea butter mixed with other oils as a substitute for cocoa butter, although the taste is noticeably different.
Shea butter is sometimes used as a base for medicinal ointments. Some of the isolated chemical constituents are reported to haveanti-inflammatory, emollient and humectant properties. Shea butter has been used as a sunblocking lotion and has a limited capacity to absorb ultraviolet radiation.
In Nigeria shea butter is used for the management of sinusitis and relief of nasal congestion. It is also massaged into joints and other parts of the body where pain is experienced.