Is Shea Butter Vegan? Ingredients, Classification & Health Benefits

Shea butter is 100% vegan. It is a popular ingredient in numerous medicines and cosmetics, especially skincare products. Some people also consume shea butter, provided it is 100% raw and unrefined. However, its use is limited in food preparation.

The confusion about shea butter not being vegan is mostly due to the name. Many people think that since it is butter, it must be a dairy product.

What is Shea Butter?

It is a fatty substance extracted from nuts of the shea tree. These trees, also known as VitellariaParadoxa, are native to East and West Africa. Most of the Shea butter used worldwide comes from Africa. Shea butter is rich in several vitamins and fatty acids and has numerous health benefits.

several vitamins and fatty acids and has numerous health benefits

Shea Butter Ingredients

  • Oleic acid: 45-50%
  • Stearic acid: 30-40%
  • Palmitic acid: 5-10%
  • Linoleic acid: 3-5%
  • Arachidic acid: 0.5-1%
  • Omega 6 & 9 and vitamins E & A.

What makes Shea Butter Vegan?

Veganism is not only about a plant-based diet. It is a lifestyle that avoids all forms of animal cruelty and exploitation for diet, cosmetics, clothing, or any other purpose. If you go by this approach, you have to ensure that the product you buy is cruelty-free and not tested on animals.

There are several reasons why shea butter is 100% vegan, and vegans trust it so much. Let’s look at them.

100% Plant-Based: Shea butter’s processing is free from animal products and it comes from oily kernels within the shea tree. The kernel is removed from the seed, ground into powder, and boiled in water. The butter rises to the top of the boiling pot and becomes solid. It is then separated, processed, and packed.

Vegans Trust Shea Butter: Ask any vegan or vegan, and they’ll say shea butter is 100% vegan. Why? Because so much research has been done on this product and everyone knows it. Moreover, shea butter is frequently used in so many different products that it has become a household name for vegans.

Shea butter is edible as well. Vegans use it for sautéing vegetables, making sauces, and in soups, stews, and smoothies.

Hence, there is very little doubt about shea butter not being vegan. Moreover, it is 100% dairy-free.  

Moreover, it is 100% dairy-free.    

Shea Butter Classification and Grades

United States Agency for International Development has described 5 different grades for shea butter. It is vital to know about these grades, so you recognize which grade shea butter you are using or buying.

  • A: Unrefined and raw shea butter with grayish-yellow color, mostly used for edible purposes
  • B: Refined version with no aromas
  • C: Refined, with no nutrients, and has a white color.
  • D: Lowest uncontaminated grade
  • E: Contaminated grade

Grade A, B, & C are commonly available and mostly used in cosmetics.

Shea Butter Health Benefits 

  • Shea butter has a very low protein concentration, making it suitable for all skin types.
  • It doesn’t set off allergies, clog your skin or dry it.
  • Shea butter is rich in fatty acids, making it a natural and excellent skin moisturizer. This is why you find it as a common ingredient in soaps, shampoo, and skincare products.
  • Shea butter helps treat inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis.
  • It is rich in vitamins A & E, making it antioxidant. This property makes it best to treat premature aging, wrinkles, and dull skin. It also promotes healthy skin cell growth.
  • Shea butter has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It may also help protect against acne.
  • Shea butter can be used as an additional sunscreen over your regular sun protection.
  • It reduces hair fall, dandruff, and promotes new hair growth.
  • Shea butter has been used in African countries to treat insect bites.
  • It can also help relieve arthritis pain, muscle soreness, and congestion.

Please note that research on shea butter’s health benefits is ongoing. All of the benefits listed above are from already conducted research or user feedback.

Is Shea Butter Soap Vegan? 

Yes. Shea butter soap is vegan. You must make sure that it is cruelty-free before buying it.

Is Dove Shea Butter Soap Vegan?

Dove does not test its products on animals or get them tested by a third party. However, it sells some of its products in mainland China. China mandates that cosmetics must be tested on animals before being sold in China. You can read Dove’s stance on selling in China.

Dove’s official response on its cruelty-free stance is shown in the screenshot (taken from Dove’s website.)

taken from Dove’s website

Dove is certified by PETA but not by other leading cruelty-free certification bodies like Leaping Bunny, Choose Cruelty-Free, and Cruelty-Free International.

Overall, Dove is on the grey list. You can use its vegan products (after checking the ingredients for each product) if you are okay with Dove’s stance on selling its items in China.

Is Cantu Shea Butter Vegan? 

Yes. Cantu is 100% vegan and cruelty-free. It is certified by PETA for not testing on animals. Cantu’s website also states that they don’t test their products on animals.

states that they don’t test their products on animals

Is the Body Shop Shea Body Butter Vegan? 

Yes. It is 100% vegan and cruelty-free. The brand has confirmed that they do not test its products or ingredients on animals. They do not ask third-party organizations to test their products on animals. Moreover, their suppliers also don’t test on animals.

The Body Shop caters to its vegan customers with a versatile and bog product line. It has over 120 products that are 100% vegan.

It has over 120 products that are 100% vegan

Is EOS Shea Butter Hand Cream Vegan? 

EOS is not a vegan brand, but they have many vegan products. Its shea butter cream is 100% vegan. Moreover, EOS doesn’t test its products on animals, making it a cruelty-free brand. EOS is certified through the Leaping Bunny program and PETA. Its crystal lip balm collection, shave creams, and entire lotion range are vegan.

EOS clearly states that some of their products are not vegan because they contain beeswax. Vegans must check the ingredients on the packaging before buying EOS products.

Is Organic Shea Butter Vegan? 

Yes. Organic shea butter is 100% vegan.

Can Shea Butter go bad? How long Shea Butter lasts? 

Yes. Raw shea butter can go bad if you don’t store it properly. Ensure you follow storage instructions on the packaging and never use shea butter after its expiry date. Bad shea butter smells rancid, like the burnt smell of wood. It also changes color after expiry.

Raw shea butter has a shelf life of 12 to 24 months. Additives can increase its shelf life. You must always check the instructions on the packaging.

Is Shea Moisture Vegan? 

Shea Moisture and shea butter are different things. Shea moisture is a hair care brand, while shea butter is an ingredient. Shea moisture is not vegan because it contains honey and beeswax. Vegans don’t use such things. However, shea moisture is cruelty-free.


  • Andy Nevers

    Andy Nevers, the founder of VeganPros and GBB is a strong advocate for the plant-based movement. After going vegan a few years ago, Andy has set out on a mission to help make the world a healthier place.

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