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The Taste of Shea

If you’ve ever used a skincare product to embellish and nourish your skin, chances are you have used shea butter. Most beauty gurus know shea butter for its moisturizing properties as well as its ability to rejuvenate the skin and give it a natural glow. It is also known to work wonders on hair by giving it a beautiful shine, making it soft and silky to the touch and aid in growth.

 It is well known that shea butter is an oil extracted from the shea nut. The fruit grows on trees commonly known as Karité trees or “shi-soun” in the Bambara language spoken in Mali. It takes decades to bear fruits, grows in Africa only and can last over 100 years! Legends say that shea butter was an important cosmetic product in the Egypt of Cleopatra; and was the secret of the queen’s undeniable beauty. If you ask us, all African women have silky, beautiful, and age defying skin. The secret – SHEA BUTTER BABY!

 We know that shea butter is rich in nutrients, we know it provides unmatched moisturizing properties, and we know that it has therapeutic properties as well. But did you know that the shea fruits are a seasonal favorite widely consumed in Mali, West Africa?? Yes! That is right, the shea fruit is called “shi” in Mali. During the summer seasons, the streets are filled with shi. The fruit itself looks like a green peach. It has a very tender and sweet flesh which melts in the mouth. In the streets, kids use the shea nuts as pawns in the shea game. It consists of each player carefully and strategically hitting his/her opponent’s shea nut with their own to cause the opponent’s shea nut to break. The winner takes the loser’s shea fruits!


This is also the time when shea butter is abundant and used in most women’s kitchens for cooking. In the capital of Mali, the best street donut that one can find in the morning is known as “fouroufourou”. It is a dough fried with shea butter. The butter gives the donuts a nutty scent some sprinkle milk powder and sugar on top while others prefer to dip it in warm milk before devouring.

Finally, the most important benefit of shea butter is its lucrative side. It is a vital item of trade in Africa and is mostly owned by women cooperatives; hence in Burkina Faso, it has earned the name “Women’s Gold”. It is a valuable source of income and allows them to maintain a sustainable lifestyle. In Mali, the production of shea butter is fully managed by women. This is a means for them to be independent and contribute to the family expenses. In most cases they are the ones who take care of all the family expenses. The most fortunate can thus offer education to their kids.

The art of making shea butter is conveyed from mother to daughter and down generations of shea women. At Sanoun, our goal is to showcase these hard-working women thanks to whom the entire world can be supplied with shea butter and beautiful skin. Our cooperative in Mali is composed of women in the village of Bougouni in need of a source of income. They work year-round to produce silky smooth liquid gold that is sure to leave your body nourished from head to toe.