Here’s how your moisturiser is made

Words by Alyce Greer

Images via The Body Shop

Feel-good beauty.

Who doesn’t love a bit of The Body Shop pamper action? My personal love affair began at the ripe age of 15, when I discovered their iconic Shea Body Butter — the soundtrack to my year 10, and brief romance with Scott from year 11. On Thursdays, I’d regularly help myself to generous late-night shopping samples of butters and creams.

While I’ve always been a fan of their products, and their commitment to the environment, animals and communities, I must admit I didn’t know tooooo many of the details. You too?

Well, I’m about to blow your damn mind: did you know The Body Shop have sustainably sourced Community Trade shea butter from The Tungteiya Women’s Association in Ghana since 1994? What was once 50 women working together to pick and prepare the shea nuts is now 640 women across 11 villages, each with its own processing centre. Together, they handcraft 390 tons of shea butter for The Body Shop every year, using an 18-stage process passed down from mother to daughter for generations.

It all starts with picking the shea nuts, before they are washed and left to dry. Then, the nuts are cracked open, the kernels extracted and turned into nibs — ready for roasting. After they’ve cooled, the nibs are ground into a paste (that looks like a lot like chocolate), which is hand-stirred over and over before butter forms at the top. This is clarified over a fire, filtered and scooped into a bowl to cool. After all that, the butter is pounded with wooden shea poles and packed into huge containers to get sent off to The Body Shop factory.

It’s a relationship that not only funds Tungteiya’s community projects like healthcare, sanitation, water and education, but also empowers the women, their families and the entire villages. And of course, gives us those lovely little pots of moisturising goodness found in our showers, bathroom cupboards and bedside tables.




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