When it comes to beauty products, it’s really the ingredients that define luxury. (The same can be said for food, right?) When we set out to create Senteurs d’Orient, we didn’t want to just be another soap brand. We wanted to use bathing products to illustrate the story of what inspires us, and that meant taking the time to make sure everything was done right. And that begins with the ingredients.
Some soaps use animal fats as moisturizing ingredients as a inexpensive alternative to vegetal oil bases and butters. However, these can irritate and leave skin feeling greasy, which is the opposite of what soap should be doing. We use an ultra-hydrating trio of olive oil, Vitamin E, and glycerin along with one of the most gentle moisturizing ingredients found in nature: shea butter.
Shea butter is extracted from the seeds/nuts of the African shea tree. It’s technically edible and is used in food preparation in some African cuisines, where it also goes by its French name, karité. Harvesting raw shea butter involves multi-step process, beginning with separating and drying the core (seed) from the fruit exterior (This is traditionally done by women and girls who sit on the ground and break the shells with small rocks.) The shea nuts are then crushed, roasted, and ground into a smooth paste mixed with water to emulsify and separate the oils, which rise to the surface. Bringing the mixture to a slow boil evaporates the remaining water, leaving behind the raw butter.
Shea butter is rich in vitamins A and E, as well as essential fatty acids and is celebrated for its its moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties. The ingredient, in its raw, unrefined form, can be used alone, but is quite thick, making it ideal for use on dry skin on lips, elbows, knees and heels. (My mother used to use a lavender oil-infused tin of shea butter to keep her skin from getting too dry during the winter.) In our soaps, we use shea butter to ensure that skin feels clean, but still super soft and silky post-bath - as it should be.