alright, time to get some info out here…
wow - i dont think i can keep this from being a lengthy post. so, grab a coffee or tea or whatever you feel like drinking and get ready to listen to me ramble about shea butter, latex allergy, and market saturation for a while. ;)
Years ago, when i began making soap, i used shea butter. I was always sourcing the best of the best of everything i used. shea was no exception. the price tag of ingredients never matters to me, the quality of the ingredient is what i am concerned about. So i found a raw, really really raw shea butter exporter, and began purchasing and using this shea. it was stinky and sticky and had all sorts of bits of natural things in it, even leaves in it sometimes… it was awesome. but the more i was exposed to it… the more i had issues with it, until one day - as soon as i touched it, my arms began itching me like mad. i had hives the size of saucers on my arms and torso, i knew straight away what was happening, and immediately took a benadry and put my epi pen at my side in case the benadryl wasnt enough to stop this allergic response.
The severe allergic response is called anaphylaxis. Unfortunately, i know it first hand, - it nearly killed me years ago - however it also saved my life, as it was ultimately what started my journey to making my own products, which then lead me to get my license to treat skin, which all wound up coming full circle, and is now my lively hood, my business, which i am able to share with you all. bodygoodies.
i feel fortunate to love what i do, i am fortunate to have turned an unfortunate, traumatic event in my life, into something wonderful.
so, after i had this reaction to shea, i decided to do some digging on latex contents in shea - and sure enough, its almost identical to the latex content in walnuts, which is what nearly killed me the night i went into anaphylactic shock. HA - youve got to be kidding me ………. i immediately wound up at my whiteboard - writing notes, doing research, looking at my product line. i began phasing out shea butter from all of my products immediately.
the solid lotions were the first to reformulate …. as that shea butter is going directly onto the skin. the soap was next. those took a while as i had 13 different formulas to reformulate. over time i managed to get every ounce of shea out of my production, out of my product. and boy am i glad i did.
i stopped using shea completely a little over 3 years ago. and what i feared would happen in the product market, i am watching happen - right now. Ive been saying it for a while, and now its starting to pop up all over the place. The market is being over saturated with shea. Its in just about everything. from smaller companies such as mine, to large companies like dove. they are all marketing all of these products containing shea. heck, its in hair conditioners, soaps, scalp treatments, after shaves, lotions, but the thing that scares me most - is lip balms. right on the mouth, they are putting shea - with its latex.
so whats so bad? well… the way this type of allergy works - its not like youre going to have a reaction the first time you touch it. or even the second time , and maybe not until the 40th time, or 300th time. The allergy works by attaching itself to the “mast cell” basically what it means is - your body remembers the allergen. your body will respond little by little each time, until finally its had enough and you get a full on allergic response.
thats what makes these types of allergies so tricky. your first response might be something as mild as a stuffy nose, or a queasy stomach, a very slight headache, a tiny bump on your skin, and over time with continued exposure, it worsens, until you have no choice but to be aware that you are definitely allergic to something.
it took me years to discover my allergies. and most of them are to latex. all of the foods i have issues with, all have latex. bananas, avocado, walnut, tree nuts, seeds, certain beans, but it doesnt stop at food either - i also have an issue with adhesives - such as bandaids. - latex. its all latex. granted, there are amounts of latex in SOOOOO many foods, just because you might have an allergy to one of them, doesnt mean you will have a reaction to all of them. just one more thing that makes the latex allergy so tricky.
eczema can actually be caused by a latex allergy ( topically or internally) , same with contact dermatitis, or chronic urticaria ( hives). but you may have NO idea whats causing your problem, youre just treating the symptom as anyone would do. so lets say youve been battling eczema for 10 years…….. you know, and maybe youve been eating strawberries that you are actually allergic to but you have no idea thats whats causing it because your allergic response isnt severe enough to tell you so just yet. and what if, you use a lotion on the market - to try to treat your eczema, and that lotion has shea in it? yeah…. what if? you see where im going with this?
right. so my fear, and i have been saying it a while, is that there is going to be a boom soon, of allergic responses to shea butter. and if you go do a quick google search, you will see many people discovering it. i had a feeling it would happen. i have also been saying i wont be surprised if argan oil is next. like shea, argan has a latex content, and yet again - the product market is jumping on a bandwagon without doing much research - they are just doing as others are doing - and whats going to happen next, i believe, is exactly what is happening with shea.
dont get me wrong here, im not bashing shea. shea is a wonderful butter with all sorts of benefits, for sure. the problem is for those that have a sensitivity to latex, or, an underlying one. For people that have an issue with latex, shea butter is getting harder and harder to avoid. the problem is overexposure to shea from cosmetic manufacturers. i am also not bashing companies that use it - had i not had an issue with shea first hand, bodygoodies may have used it for years until our customer base made us aware of the issue. luckily, i recognized the problem a few years ago and no longer contribute to the market saturation. Ive personally witnessed the increase in people trying to avoid it, by the number of emails that come in asking if we use shea in our products and if so which ones, so they can avoid them. i am happy to respond that we do not use it.
in the defense of product making companies, they are promoting a product with ingredients they believe to be safe, natural, and good for you. and with the exception of fragrance oils, preservatives, colorants and other synthetics, they may be. however, for many people - these products are causing problems, problems that will continue to get worse over time. and as the market becomes more and more saturated, the chances of it becoming a problem for you grow. …. just some food for thought. anywho, my reason for posting this blog is to raise some awareness about this latex allergy and shea butter issue i see going on. If anyone out there is already aware of a shea allergy they have……….. rest assured, there is not a product in our line that has an ounce of shea butter. not in the soaps, not in the lotions, not in the serums. We are, and will always be, a shea free product company.
thanks for listening to my nerdy shea latex allergy ramble post :)