If you’re looking for an ingredient that can soothe signs of dryness, you can’t go past shea butter. It’s one of beauty’s most-celebrated ingredients due to its intensely nourishing properties and is regularly found in body balms, facial moisturisers, lip products and even hair treatments, for this very reason. In fact, The Body Shop created an entire range around shea butter, which includes products like the 100% Natural Shea Butter, Shea Nourishing Body Lotion, Shea Butter Richly Replenishing Hair Mask and many more.
But this ingredient does so much more than improve the quality of our skin and hair; when you buy one of The Body Shop’s shea butter products, you’re helping build a stronger community for women in Ghana. Here’s how.
Where The Body Shop source their shea butter
The Body Shop’s shea butter is sustainably sourced by The Tungteiya Women’s Association in Ghana. The partnership between the brand and the community was born in 1994 after a visit by Dame Anita Roddick, The Body Shop’s founder, to the area. During this trip, Roddick learned about the process of collecting shea butter, which consists of an 18-stage process that’s passed down from mother to daughter for generations. The process is incredibly meticulous, which is essential to guaranteeing a quality end ingredient - something that was important to Roddick if she was going to include it in her formulas.
Montana Lower, Australian model and artist, recently visited the Tungteiya Women’s Association in Ghana, and saw first-hand how hard the community works in sourcing shea butter. “The biggest thing I took away from seeing the production first-hand was seeing how much pride the women took in their work - utilising traditional techniques, working together, supporting each other and using the product themselves. Shea butter has been used for a long time in the community, and it was really interesting to see the women asking for the refined version produced by The Body Shop as they favoured the properties from further processing shea, making it smoother and easier to use. I think this kind of feedback really shows respect for the original product and a testament to the relationship between The Body Shop and the Tungteiya community.”
Who shea butter benefits
Besides your skin, hair and body, by using The Body Shop’s shea butter range you’re helping grow a strong community and create numerous jobs on the other side of the world. The Body Shop’s partnership with The Tungteiya Women’s Association in Ghana has immensely benefited the local community by empowering women to provide for themselves and their families without having to depend solely on their husbands or rely on a single income.
Every time The Body Shop sources shea butter from The Tungteiya Women’s Association, it helps the community’s social fund - The Northern Ghana Community Action Fund - to invest in community projects such as health care, sanitation, water and education. This money helps 49,000 people who live in the community every year. Also, impressively, The Tungteiya Women’s Association has grown from 50 members to 640 across 11 villages during its partnership with The Body Shop, and they source 390 tons of shea butter for the brand each year.
“The impact of the program was noticeable from our first steps into the community,” continues Lower. “To the left, a clean water station and rainwater tanks, in front of us a new school, to the right a medical centre… and the biggest smiles for as far as I could see of the people that the program had so honestly impacted and enriched their livelihoods. I feel the most important part of this though, was the fact that it was and continues to be the community that elects where the funding should go to and therefore providing them with what they truly want and need - and what they are fairly entitled to.”
What’s next for shea butter
This year, in 2019, The Body Shop is even more committed to giving back to the Ghana community. The brand is focused on celebrating 25 years of Community Trade shea butter, and more importantly, 25 years of female empowerment. They’ve also added a new product to the shea butter line-up - the Multi-Purpose Shea Butter - which is a cream that melts upon contact and is perfect to use on skin and hair. Not only that, but the new Multi-Purpose Shea Butter is predicted to boost funding for the Tungteiya community by 30 per cent.
Iantha is BEAUTYcrew's Beauty Editor, and has been part of the team since the site launched in 2016. Besides pinot noir, she has a healthy obsession with fake tan smell, wispy false lashes and CND Shellac in the shade Romantique. Her words and styling can also be found in Virgin Australia Voyeur, Women's Health, and previously in SHOP Til You Drop and Cosmopolitan.