• 5 min read

Imagine: two pots of face cream, identical but for the wording on the labels.

One says “raw, unrefined, natural” and the other says “refined, de-odorized, pure white and with a subtle floral fragrance”.

Shea Butter Refinery


Which one would YOU trust for your beauty needs? Let's find out in this detailed article on unrefined vs refined shea butter.

Shea butter has gained popularity for its benefits for our skin as well as an important and advantageous ingredient in organic hair care.

Shea butter has two main types, namely refined and unrefined shea butter.

Refined vs Unrefined Shea Butter


Refined shea butter is easier to obtain as the extraction process is sped up with external help, but this reduces the nutritional benefits of the product.

On the other hand, unrefined shea butter takes a more cumbersome and long process to be extracted and might contain some impurities, but the beneficial ingredients are intact and unharmed.

Hence, unrefined shea butter provides better results.

Refined vs Unrefined Shea Butter

The truth is that the “raw, unrefined” shea butter is superior – no contest! Don’t be fooled by words; “refined, pure and white” actually describes a chemically-treated and industrially-processed end-product lacking many of the deep moisturizinganti-agingprotecting and healing properties of raw, unrefined Shea Butter.

The people of Ghana have understood the unique properties of their native Shea Butter for generations. We simply bring that wisdom to other parts of the world in the form of pure, unrefined shea butter. It’s as nature intended, and by far the safest thing to put on your face, on your baby or the skinof anyone you love!


What is Unrefined Shea Butter?

Unrefined Shea Butter is 100% pure and organic shea butter that has been extracted manually using methods passed on from generation to generation. Its extraction process does not involve external aids like additives or gases like hexane that make the extraction a quick process.

As it is unrefined, it might have some impurities present in it as well but its different beneficial contents such as vitamins are at the maximum level and potency. Shea seeds are boiled to make the removal of the external part of the seed an easier step. After which shea butter is extracted by hand from the seeds.

The presence of broken shea seed shells or membranes in unrefined shea butter is common and can be dealt with by using a muslin cloth or sieve. Unrefined shea butter is off-white or yellow in color, with a slightly gritty texture. It retains its somewhat nutty scent as well.

What Is Refined Shea Butter?

Refined shea butter is extracted with the help of the addition of hexanes and different chemicals to the extraction process which makes the breakdown of the shea seed easier and removal of this butter, less cumbersome as well.

Refined shea butter is no doubt free from impurities such as shells of the seed but due to the addition of external ingredients during the derivation process, it loses a lot of its beneficial properties and their potency.

The addition of chemicals damages the nutritional content of the butter. Refined Shea butter is smoother in texture and has a white color with no scent unless artificial fragrances are added to it.

Difference between Refined Vs Unrefined Shea Butter

We understand the ease of use that comes with refined shea butter and that it has no impurities in it. Also, it has a more aesthetically appealing texture which of course is important to some individuals.

But, when talking in terms of beneficial properties and a high concentration of vitamins that are beneficial for the skin and hair, then definitely unrefined shea butter takes the lead.

Refined Vs Unrefined (Raw) Shea Butter for Skin

When using as a part of your skincare routine, refined shea butter is the better choice. The reason behind this is that not only is refined Shea butter free of any chemicals or additives that might harm your skin, but its nutritional value is at its peak too.

The fatty acids present in refined shea butter along with high concentrations of vitamins such as vitamin E, make it one of the best natural moisturizers that help in calming the skin as well.

On the other hand, unrefined Shea butter does not only have additives that can cause a reaction on your skin but the concentration of vitamins is reduced to a considerable extent as well.

Refined Vs Unrefined (Raw) Shea Butter for Hair

As the refining process removes the majority of the healing and nourishing properties of Shea butter, the use of unrefined shea butter for hair is the preferred option.

Unrefined shea butter is not only great at managing hair frizz and imparting shine to the hair, but it is also beneficial in treating itchy and dry scalp due to its anti-inflammation and soothing properties.

As refined shea butter goes through the addition of certain chemicals during the purification process, it loses the majority of its calming properties as well. Not only that, the presence of preservatives in refined shea butter might irritate your scalp further.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Type of Shea Butter Is Best?

100% organic, unrefined, and fair trade certified shea butteris the best.

What Is Refined Shea Butter Good For?

Refined shea butter is a good option for mixing with other emollients and natural kinds of butter for use in skin care and hair care products.

Can I Use Unrefined Shea Butter on My Skin?

Yes, you can use unrefined shea butter on your skin, preferably as a part of a homemade moisturizer or body lotion, after filtering it with a sieve or cheesecloth.

Is Refined Shea Butter Organic?

No, refined shea butter is not organic due to the addition of different chemicals during processing.

What's The Difference Between Unrefined and Refined?

Unrefined shea butter is organic and does not have any additives, whereas refined Shea butter might have additives added to it during the extraction process.

Should I Use Unrefined Shea Butter?

Yes, you should prefer the use of unrefined shea butter due to its higher benefits and organic nature.

Does Unrefined Shea Butter Clog Pores?

Unrefined shea butter due to its texture might cause clogged pores. But there is no scientific evidence to support this claim.

Is Unrefined Shea Butter Grainy?

Yes. Unrefined shea butter is slightly grainy in texture.


Shea butter is a gift of Mother Nature. Its beneficial properties and nutrient-rich characteristics make it not only a suitable skincare option but a preferred hair care ingredient as well.

To truly enjoy the benefits of Shea butter, we recommend that you use 100% organic, unrefined, and fair trade certified Shea butter such as that available at Baraka.

This will not only help you in building your skincare and hair care regime but will also give you the satisfaction that the product underuse has been sourced responsibly and helps build the communities that are responsible for its production and processing.

If you live in Australia, Greater China/North Asia, Philippines or Mexico you can order directly from local Baraka distributors using the links below.