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Shea butter, a natural emollient loved for its moisturizing properties, has become a staple in many skincare routines. But have you ever thought about the journey this creamy goodness takes before gracing your shelves? When it comes to shea butter, sustainable sourcing is vital, impacting the environment and communities that rely on this precious resource.

Environmental Impact

Shea trees, native to the savannas of West Africa, play a vital role in the ecosystem. They help prevent soil erosion, regulate rainfall patterns, and provide a habitat for diverse wildlife (How Shea Trees Can Help Combat Climate Change, 2022). Unsustainable practices - like deforestation to clear land for other crops - can jeopardize these benefits. On the other hand, sustainable sourcing promotes responsible harvesting and tree replanting, ensuring the continued health of shea-growing regions.

Community Empowerment

Women in West Africa traditionally perform shea nut collection and processing. The practice is so prevalent that shea butter has earned the name "women's gold" in the region (Mensa & Turvey, 2023). Sustainable sourcing programs empower these women by providing fair wages, training, and access to precious resources. These processes, in turn, strengthen their communities and foster a sense of ownership.

Here at Bradford, we take this empowerment a step further. We proudly source our shea butter from the Global Shea Alliance (GSA), an organization founded in 2011 to empower African communities, particularly women, within the shea industry. The GSA designs and implements strategies to ensure a globally competitive and sustainable shea trade.

In 2019, we had the privilege of traveling to Ghana to visit the villages that process our shea butter using traditional, hand-crafted methods. Our commitment to sourcing from the GSA and these villages provides additional income for families and directly empowers the women central to the shea butter production process.

Transparency and Quality

When you choose sustainably sourced shea butter, you're making a powerful double impact. You can be confident that you're not only getting a high-quality product that effectively nourishes your skin, but you're also supporting ethical practices throughout the supply chain. This means the shea butter journey, from the tree to your hands, prioritizes responsible sourcing, fair treatment of workers, and environmental sustainability.

So, the next time you reach for a shea butter-infused product, or if you are a skincare brand, begin developing a new one, take a moment to consider its origin. By choosing brands committed to sustainable sourcing, like Bradford, you're nourishing your skin and contributing to a healthier planet and empowered communities. After all, true beauty goes beyond the surface.


How shea trees can help combat climate change. (2022, January 13). World Economic Forum.

Mensa, N., & Turvey, C. G. (2023). Women's Gold: The Shea Butter Industry in Ghana and how empowerment influences Employment. Social Science Research Network.

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