All About The Butters

A YouTube video by Heady 1313 recently made the rounds of social media and the blogosphere, stirring up controversy and laughter in its wake. Provocatively titled “I Am So Pissed At Black People Right Now,” the video wasn’t about some hot-button racial issue. It was about The Butters. As in shea, cocoa, mango, etcetera.

When I first saw this video, I saw it as tongue-in-cheek and playful (but not everyone agreed with me -see the blog Dirty Pretty Thangs for a different perspective that takes Heady 1313′s entitlement to task).

The responses on Facebook were at turns funny and fascinating – turns out not everyone with melanin in their skin has grown up knowing about The Butters. It got me wondering when did I first learn about The Butters? I feel like I’ve known about the beautifying power of cocoa butter my whole life!

Photo via BelleButters

When I really think back, I guess I first learned about cocoa butter when I was a child, because my mom used it when she suffered scarring after an accident involving a gas stove. Cocoa butter helped to restore her legs to their most beautiful condition. My exposure to shea butter didn’t come until much later on in life, but trust and believe our love affair is passionate. Shea butter gives my skin and hair exactly the kind of moisture it needs!

I can say that I’ve “been knowing about the butters,” but I can’t truly speak to WHY the butters are just…better. For that information I turned to one of my favorite purveyors of the butters. That’d be Tasha B, creator of BelleButters — click here to peruse her amazing collection of whipped hair and body care confections. BelleButters also thought Heady1313′s video was hilarity! “I nearly fell out of my seat from laughing when she said she wasn’t scared of someone kidnapping her ashy kids. Hilarious!” she said. And when it came to breaking down exactly WHY the butters are so perfect for the skin…Tasha broke it down!

“What makes “the butters” better than “the flavored water?” The fact that it is all natural. It is enriched from “birth” as I like to say. The most nutritious source on this planet is the earth, more specifically the rich soil that we plant in. Our trees, plants, fruits, and vegetables all grow from and absorb the nutrients that are naturally provided in the soil. So, without a doubt, if what grows from the ground is good enough to eat, it is good enough to put on our bodies. Those butters that are pressed from various nuts of fruits, trees and other plants have those same nutrients in them.

“The butters” have been used for hundreds and hundreds of years. It is the availability or maybe even the shelf-life, cost or the simple fact that many feel it’s culturally exclusive as to why “the butters” are a “new” thing to a lot of people out there. The woman in the video, I feel, is learning more and more about naturally curly hair and through her findings has stumbled upon the shea, cocoa, mango butters and more. Had these things not been brought to her attention, would she even consider thinking that most black women solely use “the butters” on their skin and hair? I don’t think so. The awareness is good, but this is what the media has portrayed to us. If it doesn’t come in a bottle and isn’t sitting on the shelf of your local drug store or department store, there is no way in the world it can be something that is used on your body. Look at the raw form of “the butters.” They are in blocks, chopped up and put in a plastic container and shipped off to your doorstep. Of course, you can whip it or melt and pour it into a container to make it more aesthetically pleasing, but to see it in it’s raw form may turn some folks off. We have been conditioned a bit to assume that if it isn’t creamy or white, then it must be of poor quality or cheap. If it doesn’t sud up, it must not do a good job of cleaning. Dispelling myths is the first part of understanding why those natural things are better than the “flavored water.”

The most common butters used are shea butter, cocoa butter and mango butter. Other butters like avocado, hemp, kokum, capuacu and more aren’t as popular but are used. Besides their moisturizing properties, these butters have the capability of renewing the skin by speeding up skin cell regeneration. Most of these butters are rich with vitamin E which is known for healing, assisting with hair and nail growth and softening the skin. Other butters have since been made, like acai and blueberry butters which are both rich in antioxidants. Your body will absorb these natural ingredients which in the long-term benefits your health. Shea butter can be used for those that suffer from mild joint pain and arthritis. I use mango butter for it’s natural spf benefits. I use cocoa butter on light scars or marks to lighten them up. No chemical made in a lab can match what God has made for us.

I remember watching a program on the History Channel about a tribe in Africa. They do scarification when a young child or teen is transitioning in age or responsibility to the tribe or their family. The scarification is done by creating short cut across the face or torso using a razor blade. After the process is finished, a large leaf is used to apply shea butter on the fresh cuts. After it is healed, it is free from infection and reveals an intricate and beautiful design. They didn’t use bandaids (they don’t have access to them) nor did they use some type of ointment. Instead, they used pure shea butter straight from the nut off the tree. If the proof isn’t there, let me give you another example.

One of my customers ran out of her butters before she got a chance to reorder more. During the interim, she used St. Ives Hydrating Vitamin E lotion. She told me that her skin was irritated and that she broke out from it. She also stated to me that when she used the lotion, she didn’t feel as moisturized as with the butters. She thought that the St. Ives lotion would be okay to use because on the label it says that it uses 100% natural moisturizers. This was pretty misleading, as when I went to look up the ingredients, I found mineral oil, petrolatum and dimethicone listed. These ingredients are pretty typical in lotions and hair products because they are used as emulsifiers and “moisturizers.” I quoted moisturizers because while they may keep you from looking ashy, in the long term, they don’t have much benefit to the skin. Emulsifiers are the items that make the product easy to apply. That’s great and all, but those same ingredients are known for clogging pores. Our skin does not absorb these too well, and sometimes this is the reason for the reaction of a breakout, because the skin is unable to breathe. With butters, your skin will readily absorb them and still allow moisture to flow back and forth. Your skin stays clear and moisturized. The key is keeping your skin moisturized all day right? Who wants to keep reapplying something all day long? “The butters” are absorbed, while “the flavored water” just sits and rubs off when it comes in contact with our clothes and other surfaces.

So when you put it all into comparison of everyday things, which would you rather have? A road full of traffic ahead or the road to be free and clear? A glass of clean water or a glass of dirty water? You apply these same situations to what you put on your skin and hair. Less, is more.”

Doesn’t that make you want to just clear out your whole product arsenal and just start over from scratch? Although I still do use “flavored water” products from time to time, I’m a BIG fan of BelleButters. Click here to check out everything she’s got to offer.

What are your thoughts on “The Butters,” bellas? Have you known about them forever? Or are you new to them yourself?

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Comments

  1. Ms. Bella,

    I confess, i have recently started paying special attention to my skin and hair mostly because I’ve gone back to growing out my natural hair. And i wholly agree, that those moisturizing lotions eh so moisturising! I GREW UP with coconut oil being used on my skin and hair and still do use that to this day. Coming across Shea butter was great, i love it and my hair loves it, because we all know natural hair is at it’s best moisturized! I’m learning all about the butters and loving each & every one of them! Thanks for also sharing this line of butter care.

    • “Mocha & Milk” is a perfect mat-ch like “black & white” people

      ~~~~~~M ixed Sin gle. C óM ~~~~~~

      The most successfu l interra cial da t ing c lub. If you are still waiting for your swee t “milk” or “mocha”, don’t hesitat e to chec k // it !! Don’t let your babie s wait too long for you !!

    • you should try these products i buy from ebay
      they have shea butter , mango butter and hair creams
      i use until now the hair cream my hair has grown over a inch a month since i started to use it

      and the mango butter i use has the most beautiful smell plus has grapefruit and grapeseed oil and something else it makes the skin soooo soft but i dont break out with pimples ( i have combination skin)
      well worth the purchase and they post worldwide too

      http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=230839148708#ht_3098wt_1139

      that is the mango butter^

      http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/230839051148?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649#ht_1337wt_1271

      thats the hair cream ^^^
      realy worth the try and avoid all them scammers who thicken their products with junk oils or beeswax,flour or glycerine
      i hope you find something you like

  2. I agree. I love butters. Particularly shea butter b/c it sinks right on into my skin and hair. There are so many ways you can mix your butters, I have quite a few recipes on my blog. It cost little to nothing make your own mixes and less than 5 mins.

  3. That video had me ROTFL!

    I try to make sure I buy fair trade shea butter, because often African women producers (who call this butter “karite”) are not fairly paid for this product. The White People, especially those with ashy brown children, have discovered shea butter/karite, so now I can find it at my local whole foods coop. I melt it & mix it with a little jojoba oil to create a texture I can use at room temp for skin or hair. I don’t use it as often as I could because I haven’t figured out how to add fragrance, and I don’t like the natural smell of either karite or jojoba.

    I grew up with Palmer’s cocoa butter lotion with vitamin E. The White People have not yet discovered this product where I live, so I have to stock up on it whenever I visit civilized parts of the world. I occasionally find it cheap at the local Big Odd Jobs Lots Dollar store, with a label in both English and Arabic: I’m guessing that some of our smooth skinned sisters-in-butter are AfroBellas from North Africa, too!

  4. Thank you Patrice!

  5. Aretha T. says:

    Interesting! I didn’t know what to think of that video cause she was making it sound as if we intentionally were hiding the butters on her!! REALLY?!! But whatsoever, cause how much we were disliked cause of our skin, its funny now how white girls go tanning….to get darker, wear wigs and weaves…. didn’t we do that?!! Lip and butt injections….hmmm, now you want our butters too?!!!! Please give us something to keep for ourselves!!! But honestly, I didn’t know that we had a hold on the butters and most likely if you had a good black girlfriend, she would of hipped you to it a long time ago!!!

  6. I guess its the benefits of being of Caribbean descent that I’ve been having one of “the butters” (cocoa in particular) slathered on me since childhood.

    I found the video funny, as well… the woman is a MS patient going through chemotherapy.. let her get some humor anyway she can!

  7. Rochelle says:

    I so love this post – the tone, the content, the information, everything. And, I certainly value the butters. We all have our introduction to cocoa butter and it’s smell. And, I remember distinctly, the discovery of other butters as a college student that allowed me to rid the bad connotation of butter that cocoa butter (i.e. all butters smell bad) left on me as a child.

    but, i zm sure that there are other things that we are holding out on the white people and some black people as well. That is why I love you and this set, Ms. Afrobella!

    I’d love to see more posts like this that show your wonderful sense of humor and gems like this youtube post! r maybe we could have a “ask a …” day from clueless people that you can answer.

  8. No Nonsense says:

    I thought the video was hilarious! She is not making any demands, her tone is tongue in cheek. A tone we would use to a friend by saying “Why didn’t you tell me about so and so?”

    I’m an avid user of cocoa butter, the other sweet smelling stuff sold in the “brand stores” are useless.

  9. This is hysterical. I remember Martha Stewart talking about “discovering” cocoa butter in prison. I thought that was funny too.

  10. Since I’ve been natural which has been about a little over a year, I have known about the butters. If it wasn’t for youtube I wouldn’t have known. I have a lot of white friends and in-laws, and tell them about shea butters because it’s the only butter that I have used. I love it because right now it’s extremely hot in New Jersey and I use the shea butter in conjunction with my sunscreen (I am a black woman who practices safe sun). I always get a nice even tan and no sunburn.

  11. I’m definitely new to “The Butters.” I mean, I’ve heard the terms and seem them as additions to counter top body moisturizers, but I’ve never seen them in their raw form. I have definitely always felt that the moisturizers marketed today are not what our skin needs, but honestly I could see no other option. I keep testing things out, so I am definitely gonna give Belle Butters a try. I have acne-prone skin, as well as plenty of acne scars, so a natural option sounds like a welcome relief to all the chemicals I keep seeing.

  12. I love shea butter, cocoa butter and pistachio butter. I didn’t learn about any of these until I started blogging, but they’ve definitely changed my skin. Shea butter is what I use on irritated skin, even around my eyes. Love it!

  13. Jeb Sierrin says:

    butters have been the way my mom taught us and we always stayed with them I used to do Palmers but for last year recently bought Hydration Habitat Body and Foot products which are even better but bit more than Palmers. Worth it but need to search web as hard to find on web sometimes. Also staying out of sun keeps skin going dry. Still need some good face creams and use a bunch as I cant find one for my skin

  14. That was hilarious! But I’m a DWC* (Dumb White Chick) who only just learned about the butters – thanks to Tasha’s amazing products! My babies (who are Ethiopian) love the butters, and you can bet that I use them on myself too!

    *DWC is also meant to be funny. Not offensive. People DO take everything seriously, so I thought I’d clarify. :)

  15. I didn’t grow up with The Butters — I’m just a plain old African-American chick from Cleveland, lol — but like most new naturals I discovered them when I started doing my own hair. Actually most butters (particularly shea and cocoa) are too heavy for my hair; I have to cut them with other ingredients. I recently tried (and failed) to make a shea butter-based body cream…but I’m going to try again before winter gets here.

    Re that video: I was LMAO! I totally got where she was coming from. And yeah, the fact that she could have a sense of humor while undergoing chemo deserves applause on its own. Thanks for sharing!

  16. When I was young my mother would bust out the Cocoa butter every time I fell and cut myself ( I have no scars and I once had 3 degree oil burns on my legs and arms -kids should not try to fry plantains!). I have been natural since May 2007 and would buy products with Cocoa, jojoba, shea, and other butters in it. These products smelled great but were expensive. Then I realized that I was crazy to buy the products with butters in them and not the actual butters. I went crazy and brought cocoa, shea, mango, sweet almond, and jojoba butter. My hair looks and feels great! I used jojoba on my skin one night because I ran out of lotion. I was so worried that I would break out. Let me tell you – My skin looked better overnight! No more store brought for me. Youtube and blogs have great recipes.

  17. Oh, and I brought all of those butters (1/2lb shea, 1 lb cocoa, 1/4 lb jojoba,and 4 oz each of almond and mango) for about $40! I used to spend about $15-$19 on one bottle of product and now I have enough to last me a few months.

  18. I grew up with cocoa and shea butter. My mom is a natural productaholic. At first it was Palmer’s which I still buy and use but when I went to college and was exposed to more natural sisters and learned a bit more I begin buying the real deal including oils. I didn’t watch this video but our culture knows a lot of things we don’t get credit for. Very informative post. Thank you.

  19. hi,

    people are just waking up to the sheer goodness of butters such as cocoa and shea and these butters have been in existance for centuries, let me tell you this…. a skin without shea or cocoa butter is like life without air!

  20. MediumDesi says:

    Indians don’t use butters – we use oils. Same principle though. IMHO, they do a FAR better job than commercial creams and lotions any day.
    Personally, my preference for oils stays because the ingredient list is shorter than butters even. You get the good stuff, and little else by way of preservatives, etc.

    • ooooo! What are your favorite oils? I love trying beauty secrets from other cultures!

      • MediumDesi says:

        Don’t have a fav, myself… heck, start off with olive oil – it’s the easiest to find! Italians have been using it as moisturizer for ages, after all.

        Oils of ‘Indian’ origin? Most common: coconut and sesame seed (NOTE: NOT the sesame seed you’d use for Chinese cooking! The smell and look are different! I’ve not tried the Chinese version of sesame seed oil – you have been warned)

        Just use as a pre-bath all-over conditioner: Massage into scalp, hair and body; wait 10-15 mins (no longer); wash (I find JASON aloe shampoo works fine, double washing may be required if you have oily scalp / hair).

        PLEASE be careful when stepping in the shower – you could slip (I have). If you want, apply to your legs AFTER entering your shower / bathtub. Also be sure to clean shower/ bathtub after, so that nobody else risks getting hurt!

  21. The video was funny. Too bad some people have no sense of humor…

  22. I thought the video was funny! People really take things too seriously. I just recently found out about “The Butters” from my sister.

    About 4 years ago she went natural and started putting all of this stuff on her hair. I thought she was crazy…I wasnt going to walk around looking like that and smelling like some shea…shea what? Shea butter…what is that? But, then I saw her hair and how nice it looked. So, I jumped on the bandwagon, did the BC and started using “The Butters” also. Now I am a Butter Addict! I cant get enough shea butter (always buy fair trade) and cocoa butter. I also use mango butter and coconut oil. Love them!!!! I figured out how to make my own hair/body concoctions, no more store-bought chemicals for me. I dont know how I made it this many years with out them!

  23. I grew up knowing cocoa butter and coconut oil. As I am someone that loves reading I cam to know Shea Butter but i just do not like the smell. a badly made body butter is just as bad a a lotion with no motion.

    thought the video was funny especially the parts about messed up hair, ashy skin trail. It was very tongue in cheek and more or less says we culturally have the the answers to beautiful skin

  24. Yes, there was always Palmers, it seems, but I’ve just recently discovered the pure, raw, good stuff…shea, mango, cocoa and avocado are all on heavy rotation at my house.

    I recently took my preschool daughter to a highly recommended black dermatologist for a bad eczema breakout and he asked what I used to moisturize her skin. I told him that I usually used shea butter and sometimes Aquaphor, thinking I’d get kudos. He said, “Aquaphor, that’s good. Shea butter? Pshhht!” and shook his head. I mean, he made a silly spitting noise in response to my beloved shea butter!

    After that encounter, I pocketed his prescription for some high-dollar-even-with-my-insurance mineral oil-based concoction, hightailed it home, found an essential oil recipe to mix into my whipped butters, started giving her bleach baths (sounds much worse than it is) and haven’t looked back since. My daughter’s skin started healing almost overnight. I could kick myself for not doing it sooner.

  25. paintgurl40 says:

    i didn’t find the video funny or offensive. in fact i’m not going to comment on the video..(i’m trying to be positive) at least they are trying to learn about black hair and skin instead of just slapping anything on them. i hope she gets well. can someone PLEASE tell me where can i find raw butters online? i knew about the butters when i started transitioning, and i used to order african black soap and shea butter. i moved and lost the website..

  26. I first learned about the “butters” when I was a little girl. My mom used the old fashioned cocoa butter sticks on burns and scars. When I was in my twenties, I began to learn about the benefits of Shea Butter and started using various products infused with Shea Butter. However, I did not like the smell of pure Shea Butter. In 1999 I developed my first Body Butter infused with a blend of Cocoa and Shea Butter in addition to skin-nourishing oils such as Sweet Almond, Avocado and Soybean. I have used nothing but my products on my skin since then. Check us out at asilibodyproducts.com

  27. I though it was too funny! “We’ve been going to Bath & Body Works…” But now, I’m mad that she’s giving up the “secrets.” lol….

  28. My My . I did not know that the butters were a secret. I thought everyone knew. My first intro was good old Palmers. But I have since branched out to the pure butters. Why dilute the goodness and pay extra?

  29. afrocentric says:

    I want to do a course on how to make some of the different butters you mnetioned above. i am willing to travel to africa to learn. plese send me any information you have in my email bustarhymes53@excite.com

  30. Great Post!! I loved how you explained the benefits of butters and how other products “manufactured” on the market can’t compare to what nature gave us! They are all natural goodness. No chemicals or additives needed! Thank you for sharing!

  31. hey you guys orgot about the bugnani oils..i use it faithfully…im 52 look 35.

  32. Becky…lol….using the butters and creams…is only half of the solution for black beautiful skin…..the other….you guessed it…lol…….melanin…lol…can’t buy that.
    P.s I know they claim you can buy all this crap that’s slimilar to melanin….but I would not put that crap on my skin.

  33. I am in my fifties,I use topic clear soap and sometimes Burt’s gees cleanser.nut I always use the Shea butters.day and night.

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Trackbacks

  1. [...] – A raging Vlogger is “So Pissed at Black People”… for hiding away THE BUTTERS! Where my fellow Cocoa Butter fanatics at? (Afrobella) [...]

  2. [...] ultimate foot softness, it’s ALL about the butters, and a good pair of thick, soft socks. My feet cry out for shea and cocoa butter at certain times [...]

  3. [...] Meet Emily Jayne bella | October 18, 2012 | 0 Comments The time of year is here, bellas. There’s a chill in the air and a snap in the wind here in Chicago. The leaves are rapidly changing from yellow to brown. Tis the season for the butters. [...]

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