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Taking the High Road with Shea Butter

February 5, 2009

Rhone Botanicals & Skincare products use only all natural and Fair Trade ingredients.

Taking the High Road

Rhone Botanicals & Skincare products use only all natural and Fair Trade ingredients.

By Joanna Cosgrove
Online Editor

There are a lot of skin care preparations currently capitalizing on the benefits of shea butter and sea salt, but not many of them are like Rhone Botanicals & Skincare products. The company’s core line spans 30 richly formulated whipped butters, balms and scrubs that hinge on Fair Trade-sourced, raw, unrefined shea butter from Burkina Faso, West Africa, and 100%sea salt from the Dead Sea in Jordan Valley, where the high content of salts and minerals gives its waters renowned curative powers and therapeutic qualities. Rhone’s line also includes an Acai Anti-Oxidant Eye Cream and a range of steam distilled plant oils.

Rhone Botanicals & Skincare products originated out of an unmet personal need. After becoming aware of the skin conditioning and moisturizing benefits of pure shea butter about two years ago, the president and founder of the Boston, MA-based company, Denise Rhone, said “When I started looking for pure unrefined shea, I could not find any that were affordable or 100 percent pure. Also, the pure shea I did find was always in a salve consistency,” she said. “I started using the shea myself in its raw form and giving it to friends and family for input.”

Her friends and family had two primary issues with the raw shea butter: its unpleasant smell (it has a strong nut smell) and its innately firm texture which made it too hard to work with. Her solution was to whip the shea butter and add essential oils.

Ms. Rhone said shea butter contains beneficial vegetable fats that “promote cell regeneration and circulation, making it a wonderful healer and rejuvenator for troubled or aging skin. It also contains natural sun-protectants.”

Shea butter is sometimes referred to as “women’s gold,” because the business of extracting the butter from Karite Nuts provides employment and income to hundreds of thousands of rural African village women. To that end, Ms. Rhone’s shea butter products are comprised of only Fair Trade Shea Butter.

“Being a woman of color, I am passionate about helping those who don't have the means but have the will and determination,” she commented. “The particular women’s initiative I support toil tirelessly for little compensation if any. Shea has become a product in demand and is only found in indigenous areas. If I can make a difference in any small way, that is the way I go.  Dagara is a small village in Burkina Faso whose main means of revenue is farming, but one of their few natural resources is shea.

“I had the pleasure of meeting a woman who pretty much single-handedly founded a non-profit company to help these women change their lives and build a sustainable income,” she continued. “The women of Burkino Faso hope that with the help from companies such as mine, their economy will flourish.” 

Ms. Rhone offers her Shea Body Butters in six scented and one unscented varieties spanning mango, lemongrass, lime, pomegranate, coconut and lavender fragrances. The Butters are sold in 2.75 ounce and .5 ounce containers ($25 and $8 respectively). The line also includes Mommy Butter and Baby Butter ($30), which combine whipped shea butter with aloe butter, chamomile, lavender, and other natural ingredients formulated to relieve stretch marks, sore skin, diaper rash and chaffing.

Dead Sea Salt

The secondary companion to shea butter in the Rhone Botanicals & Skincare product lineup is sea salt, but not just any sea salt, 100% pure sea salt derived from the Dead Sea in the Jordan Valley, where the high content of salts and minerals gives its waters the renowned curative powers and therapeutic qualities.

Dead Sea salt contain 35 minerals including magnesium, calcium, sulphur, bromide, iodine, sodium, zinc and potassium, and are said to favorably impact a variety of conditions including skin disorders such as psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema, dandruff, scabies and seborrhea; rheumatological conditions such as arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, osteoarthritis, back pain and bursitis; and skin maladies like rashes, sores, hives, itching and contact dermatitis.

The only ingredients added to Ms. Rhone’s Dead Sea salt products are oils and extracts thought to “benefit the end user in a healthy way both in mind and body.”

“My products are 100% pure and unrefined so that the curative properties are not compromised,” she said. “Rhone Botanicals’ shea and salt are infused only with essential oils and organic carrier oils.”

Billed to enhance circulation, penetrate skin to release body surface toxins, aid in healing skin discoloration, ease muscle/joint soreness, and relieve dryness, the company’s Dead Sea Salt Face & Body Scrubs are offered in lavender, mango and eucalyptus varieties ($28), as well as an exotic Chocolate Orange Cream blend that retails for $30.

Rhone Botanicals & Skincare products are currently sold in selected Whole Foods stores in New England, Green Eyed Daisy Boutique on Martha’s Vineyard, and on the company’s website.

Ms. Rhone said she looks forward to expanding her line to include hair care and body wash products, but for the time being the latest product in the line is the company’s Acai Eye Cream, which combines pure unrefined shea butter with the antioxidant-potent superfruit, Acai. The product is said to “work wonders” on dark circles, puffiness, blemishes and wrinkles around the eye area. The company’s Acai Eye Cream retails for $25 (.25 oz.).

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