Kelly Tirman is one of my fellow shopkeepers on the OpenSky platform. The other day, she introduced me to one of her favorite finds, Organic Essence Pure Organic Shea Butter ($19.89 at her store). The ingredients are USDA certified organic shea butter - and that's it! Plus the pot it comes in is completely biodegradable. Buy this and you're practically a paid up member of Greenpeace.

Butyrospermum parkii - shea's posh name - acts as a skin conditioning agent and viscosity (thickness) increasing agent. Its function as a dermal conditioner is two fold. Firstly, it helps retain moisture and lessen the loss of water by forming a barrier on the skin’s surface. Secondly, it also works to reduce the appearance of rough patches and dry flakes on the skin.

In addition, the moisturizers in shea butter are the same as those produced by the sebaceous glands of the skin. In fact, because its structure and function resembles that of the lipid content of skin, shea butter is considered to be a Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF). As an NMF, it helps keep the intercellular structure of the epidermis intact, and effectively  keeps bacteria out, facilitates the skin’s healing process, prevents dermal irritation and regenerates the skin.

It’s particularly useful for those looking to improve the appearance of dry skin, or those having to combat cold winter weather. It also works as an anti-inflammatory, helping to soothe itchy, irritated or sunburnt skin. Best of all, it naturally absorbs UVB rays to protect the skin from the sun, and has antioxidant properties as potent as those of green tea and olive.