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Yellow Shea Butter vs. White Shea Butter — What's the Difference?

By Urooj Arif & Fiza Rafique — Published on April 22, 2024
Yellow Shea Butter is raw or unrefined with a natural yellow color, known for its healing properties, while White Shea Butter is refined, lacking the raw color and some natural nutrients but preferred for its neutral scent and color in cosmetics.
Yellow Shea Butter vs. White Shea Butter — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Yellow Shea Butter and White Shea Butter


Key Differences

Yellow Shea Butter retains its natural color, which can range from pale yellow to deep yellow, attributed to the Borututu tree's roots or the shea nut's natural variations. This form is unrefined, preserving all the natural vitamins, fatty acids, and nutrients beneficial for skin and hair. White Shea Butter, on the other hand, undergoes a refining process that removes the natural scent and color, resulting in a white, odorless butter. This process may also reduce some of the butter's natural healing properties, but it makes the butter more versatile for use in a wide range of cosmetic products where a neutral appearance and scent are preferred.
The texture of Yellow Shea Butter can be slightly grainier due to its unrefined nature, which some users find more authentic and effective for certain skin conditions. White Shea Butter, refined and smoother, is often considered more cosmetically elegant, blending seamlessly into formulations without altering the product's scent or color.
Yellow Shea Butter is often associated with traditional uses and is believed to have slightly different or enhanced healing properties due to the presence of additional components from the Borututu tree, which is known for its detoxifying and liver-supportive qualities. White Shea Butter, while still beneficial for moisturizing and conditioning, might lack some of these specific properties due to the refining process.
In terms of availability, Yellow Shea Butter might be more directly linked to traditional sources and small-scale producers, supporting local communities and sustainable practices. White Shea Butter's refined nature often means it's produced on a larger scale, potentially impacting its eco-friendliness and the direct support of shea-producing communities.
Both Yellow and White Shea Butter offer excellent moisturizing and skin-conditioning benefits, but the choice between them can depend on personal preference for texture, scent, color, and the desire for a product closer to its natural state versus one that is more refined and neutral for cosmetic use.

Comparison Chart


Natural yellow, varies in shade
Refined to a neutral white


Unrefined, retaining natural nutrients
Refined, removing scent and color


Can be grainier, authentic feel
Smooth and consistent, cosmetically elegant

Healing Properties

Rich in nutrients, potentially enhanced by Borututu tree elements
Retains moisturizing properties, but may lack some natural nutrients


Traditional, effective for skin conditions
Versatile in cosmetics for neutral appearance


Supports traditional practices and local communities
Larger scale production, potentially less eco-friendly

Compare with Definitions

Yellow Shea Butter

Slightly grainy texture, considered more authentic.
The grainy texture of yellow shea butter melts perfectly into the skin.

White Shea Butter

Smooth texture, preferred in cosmetic formulations.
Its smooth texture makes white shea butter a favorite base for cosmetic products.

Yellow Shea Butter

May contain elements from the Borututu tree, enhancing its properties.
The yellow color of this shea butter indicates it might be enriched with Borututu tree extracts.

White Shea Butter

While refined, still offers moisturizing and conditioning benefits.
Even though it's refined, white shea butter effectively moisturizes dry skin.

Yellow Shea Butter

Supports local shea butter producers and traditional methods.
Buying yellow shea butter helps support sustainable practices in shea-producing communities.

White Shea Butter

Refined shea butter, white and odorless for cosmetic versatility.
White shea butter is ideal for her homemade skincare products due to its neutral scent.

Yellow Shea Butter

Known for its healing properties and traditional uses.
She uses yellow shea butter for its reputed skin-healing benefits.

White Shea Butter

Lacks the natural color, refined for a cosmetically elegant appearance.
The white shea butter blends seamlessly into lotions and creams.

Yellow Shea Butter

A natural, unrefined shea butter with a yellow hue.
The yellow shea butter's rich color comes from its unprocessed state.

White Shea Butter

Produced on a larger scale, with a focus on cosmetic use.
White shea butter's production caters to the broad demands of the beauty industry.

Common Curiosities

What is white shea butter?

White shea butter is unrefined and uncolored shea butter that retains its natural white or off-white color, along with all its inherent nutrients.

Does the color of shea butter affect its healing properties?

The color itself doesn't affect healing properties, but the added ingredients for coloring yellow shea butter might offer additional benefits.

What is yellow shea butter?

Yellow shea butter is shea butter that has been naturally dyed, often with ingredients like Borututu bark, giving it a distinct color and potentially added herbal benefits.

Can white shea butter be used on all skin types?

Yes, white shea butter is suitable for all skin types, especially sensitive skin, due to its purity and mildness.

Why would someone choose yellow shea butter over white?

Someone might choose yellow shea butter for its traditional use, appealing color, or the perceived added benefits of the natural ingredients used for coloring.

How should yellow shea butter be stored compared to white shea butter?

Both should be stored in cool, dry places, but yellow shea butter's added ingredients might require extra consideration to maintain its herbal properties.

Is there a difference in aroma between yellow and white shea butter?

Yes, yellow shea butter may have a distinct, possibly herbal aroma due to its coloring agents, whereas white shea butter has a milder, nutty scent.

Which type of shea butter is better for cosmetic formulations?

The choice depends on the desired outcome; yellow shea butter for vibrantly colored and traditionally inspired products, and white shea butter for natural and pure formulations.

Can both yellow and white shea butter be used for hair care?

Yes, both types of shea butter can be used for hair care, providing moisturizing and conditioning benefits.

How do the textures of yellow and white shea butter compare?

Both offer rich textures, but the added ingredients in yellow shea butter might slightly alter its consistency.

Does the process of coloring shea butter reduce its shelf life?

The shelf life can be affected by various factors, but properly stored yellow shea butter, despite its added ingredients, should have a comparable shelf life to white shea butter.

Are there ethical concerns with choosing one type of shea butter over the other?

Ethical considerations might include the sourcing of the shea butter and the sustainability of the added ingredients for coloring yellow shea butter.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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