Vegetable butter is a group of vegetable fats that have the consistency of butter at room temperature. Vegetable butter can be a great carrier for essential oils. There are two types of vegetable butter that are most readily available and beneficial for those who use them with essential oils: shea butter and cocoa butter.
Shea butter is also known as karite butter and is derived from the nut of the shea tree which grows in Central Africa. Shea butter naturally protects the skin against the UVA and UVB rays of the sun. It can alleviate skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis and burns. When used a massage agent, shea butter eases sore muscles and rheumatism because it increases capillary circulation. Shea butter is also used in cooking and is a great alternative to dairy butter for vegetarians. Shea butter is a great source of essential fatty acids.
Derived from cocoa beans, cocoa butter is another vegetable butter that is great for the skin. Like shea butter, cocoa butter offers protection from the sun’s damaging rays and has healing properties. Cocoa butter is high in vitamins C and E, along with other vitamins and minerals. Along with soothing and moisturizing the skin, vitamin E also reduces the signs of aging by providing the skin with collagen. Because cocoa butter is so great for moisturizing and healing the skin, women have been using it for centuries to treat stretch marks during pregnancy. Cocoa butter is solid at room temperature, but easily melts at body temperature so it can be easily absorbed by the skin.
The healing properties and nutrients available in shea butter and cocoa butter make them great options as carriers for essential oils or to use on their own. Vegetable butters have long been known to provide the body with essential nutrients and these two varieties have the benefit of smelling great as well. Shea butter’s healing properties are superior to cocoa butter, but it naturally contains a small amount of latex. If this irritates your skin, or if you have a history of a latex allergy, cocoa butter is a very close second.