Why Does Shea Butter Smell? (And How To Make It Better?)

Updated: July 22, 2021

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Why Does Shea Butter Smell? (And How To Make It Better?)

Shea butter smells when it has expired, and it gives out a strong rancid odor then. Other than that, bad storage condition is another factor that can give the shea butter its rancid smell. To prevent it, keep it inside an airtight glass jar or zip-lock plastic bag in a cool dark place.
And the reason for the nutty smell of unrefined shea butter is because it is extracted from the nuts of the shea tree. The tree takes approximately 15 years to bear fruit. The best way to prevent this smell is to get refined shea butter.

What Is Shea Butter?

Shea butter is a fat that comes from the nuts of the shea tree, native to West Africa. It has fantastic emollient properties for its rich concentration of natural vitamins and essential fatty acids. This property ensures hydration and softens your skin while strengthening the skin barrier.

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And the cinnamic acid in it makes it an effective anti-inflammatory ingredient that aids in easing skin irritations such as eczema and psoriasis. It also protects the skin from harmful damages caused by UV radiation.

Shea butter also contains antioxidant properties due to the presence of catechins and vitamins A and E in it. Thus, it helps to ward off environmental damages and free radicals. Besides, it has anti-aging properties as well. All these benefits of shea butter also work when applied to hair. It is great for split ends, hair breakage, hydrating dry scalp, and shielding hair from sun damage too.

What Is The Natural Smell Of Shea Butter?

Since shea butter gets extracted from the nuts of the shea tree, it gives out a nutty and smokey smell. It can vary from a mild to wild, earthy scent. Also, this fragrance can be a bit overpowering for some people.

Why Does Shea Butter Smell?

The main factor that leads to the rancid and pungent smell of shea butter is bad storage. The perfect condition to store it would be in a cool dark place to avoid direct sunlight and heat and keep it in an airtight container to keep moisture and air away.
It can also smell when the shea butter expires, meaning it has gone past its shelf life. This is why old shea butter smells like a rotten egg, as it is similar to the smell of rancidness.

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How To Get Rid Of The Shea Butter Smell And Make It Smell Better?

To get rid of the strong nutty and smoky smell unrefined shea butter naturally comes, turn it into scented shea butter by adding essential oils such as lavender, rose, geranium, and mint. When using for hair, you can also add other hair care products with fragrances to hide butter’s overwhelming smell.

However, you can avoid this smell altogether by opting for refined shea butter, where its natural odor is stripped off.
But to steer clear of the odor of rancid shea butter, the best option is to store the product correctly. Or better yet, opt for high-quality shea butter that will have a general shelf life of more than 24 months.


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