Vitellaria paradoxa (formerly Butyrospermum parkii), commonly known as shea tree, shi tree, or vitellaria, is a tree of the Sapotaceae family. It is the only species in genus Vitellaria, and is indigenous to Africa. The shea fruit consists of a thin, tart, nutritious pulp that surrounds a relatively large, oil-rich seed from which shea butter is extracted.
The concentration of natural vitamins and fatty acids in Shea butter makes it incredibly nourishing and moisturizing for skin. It is often used to remedy dry skin and to help protect the skin’s natural oils.
A 2010 study found that due to its cinnamic acid and other natural properties, shea butter was anti-inflammatory. (source) One compound in particular, lupeol cinnamate, was found to reduce skin inflammation and even potentially help avoid skin mutations. This also makes it beneficial for some people with acne.
Shea butter aids in the skin’s natural collagen production and contains oleic, stearic, palmitic and linolenic acids that protect and nourish the skin to prevent drying. With long term use, many people report skin softening and strengthening as well as wrinkle reduction.