Q&A with a Skin Care Expert

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Words: Isabella Duvall
Photo Credit: Isabella Duvall

There is nothing more frustrating than being completely disappointed in the $50+ anti-aging wrinkle cream you just spent hours or even days looking for. It is never a simple task finding a product that will meet all your skin’s needs. It was for this reason that Isabella was inspired to develop her company, Better Shea Butter, which focuses on the simple yet beneficial aspects of DIY skin care.

Better Shea Butter accomplishes what many skin care lines struggle to achieve – that is, meeting the needs of all skin types. Homemade skin care allows you to customize your product the way you want it and the way your skin needs it.

We first connected with Better Shea Butter inside the Winter 2017 issue of Willow and Sage, where they provided a step-by-step guide for making Orange Cinnamon Bath Bombs.

Now, we’ve invited Isabella Duvall, the mastermind behind the company to flourish for an exclusive Q&A interview where she reveals the ins and outs of incorporating Shea butter into your beauty routine. Be sure to stick around for a bonus DIY recipe she’s sharing with us on how to make Coconut Vanilla Body Butter.

Better Shea Butter Interview with Isabella Duvall

1. Tell us about Better Shea Butter.

I started Better Shea Butter in summer 2013 with just Unrefined Shea Butter. It has grown organically and we now offer many butters, oils and other ingredients and products that DIY skin care enthusiasts around the world love! I am proud of my team and love every single one of my awesome customers.

2. Why Shea butter? Tell us something most of us do not know.

  • 50% to 70% of a typical lotion – regardless of brand or price point – is water/tea/aloe or a combination of these ingredients. Shea butter, when present, is between 3% and 8%. The rest of the ingredients are usually fillers, emulsifiers, thickeners, or exotic-sounding ingredients that are present in the tiniest amount. These are used primarily as a marketing tool with the main objective of attracting sales: “… made with white bark extract!” often means that there is 0.5% of this wonderful ingredient and will not do anything good to your skin.
  • Using unrefined Shea butter alone gives you 100% of its healing and moisturizing properties. Using it in recipes gives you total flexibility in deciding how much to incorporate depending on your goals.
  • At Better Shea Butter, we feel that offering pure and unadulterated cosmetic ingredients like unrefined Shea butter, gives you what’s really important for your skin health.

3. What are some ways I can incorporate Shea butter into my beauty routine?

  • Use it alone for any quick skin fix-ups on dry or irritated skin. Fill a few small containers with Shea butter; keep a container in your purse, one in the bathroom, one in the car, and use when needed. Ensure the containers are sealed, as Shea butter melts at 75˚F and you don’t want it to leak out of your container.
  • Make a personalized skin care product by melting it and mixing it with other carrier oils, essential oils and needed ingredients to fit your situation.

4. What are three must-haves from your line?

  • Unrefined Shea Butter – a solution for everything (and the staple of homemade skin care)
  • Rose Hip Seed Oil – a high performance dry oil that evens out skin tone, heals scars and is a great vitamin A booster for your skin care recipes
  • Apricot Oil – a delicate, light carrier oil great as a body oil, baby oil, or make up remover

5. Tell us about yourself.

I was born in a small village in northern Italy. My parents still live in the same quaint village, and my Italian roots inspired me to create a company that is simple, wholesome and truly helpful to people. Just as each small shop owner in my native village was friendly, simple, and helpful, I want Better Shea Butter to be a company that communicates these values, and I want to personally be easily accessible to all customers who have questions or need help in creating their own DIY skin care.

6. What is your philosophy?

Keep it simple, don’t stress, and make sure that what you do always helps someone.

7. What inspires you?

People that push through barriers and achieve their goals despite the odds. Happy and friendly people.

8. How did you become interested in all-natural skincare?

I can’t stand synthetic fragrances, yet I love the smell of flowers. I also get very irritated by long-winded ingredient labels that require an hour of googling. My first whipped body butter was a total success and I realized how simple, fun and creative home made skin care is.

9. How would you describe your brand’s style and aesthetic?

De-cluttered, clean, light and airy. Simple and approachable.

10. How did your company get started and how has it evolved over time?

I decided to source unrefined shea butter and created Better Shea Butter as a side company to make extra money to pay for my kids’ sports and extra activities. The company grew incredibly fast and it’s been my full time job for 3 years. I’ve never been happier about what I have created (except of course for my kids, nothing will ever top that creation <3)

11. What sets Better Shea Butter apart from other companies?

There are companies that sell hundreds of ingredients for DIY skin care, there are companies that sell only wholesale to small skin care products business, and then there are companies that focus on one skin care ingredient, for example Shea butter, cocoa or mango.

Unlike all those companies, we sell the important staples a homemaker of skin care products needs to get started and functioning. We believe that the foundations of anything are the most important part of learning anything. Once you have the important ingredients and techniques down cold, you can take off and personalize your creations.

12. Is there a simple DIY recipe you’d like to share with our readers to try at home?

Coconut Vanilla Body Butter:

Over a double boiler, gently melt 2 tablespoons of Shea butter, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and 2 teaspoons of vanilla essential oil. When melted, take off the heat, let it rest for 1/2 hour, whip it with an electric mixer on high for 1 minute, then cover and put it in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Take out of the fridge, whip it one more time, then scoop the mix into a zip lock bag that has a bottom corner cut off, then push the body butter through the cut off corner just like you would use a piping bag, and into a jar.


Isabella grew up in Italy and was raised by her single mom who was an entrepreneur since the age of 17. Her Italian roots are what inspired her to create a company that is simple, wholesome and truly helpful to everyone. After years of working as a recruiter, then business coach and consultant, she took a risk by quitting that predictable life, and started her own company importing and selling the best Shea butter she could find. That was the beginning of Better Shea Butter, 4 years ago. Better Shea Butter & Skin Foods started with unrefined, organic Shea Butters from Ghana and continued from there with Unrefined Cocoa Butter, Mango Butter, and other ingredients to round out a natural, homemade skin care routine. They have many care ingredients coming up, as well as other awesome DIY skin care solutions that will make it easy for everyone to create their skin foods. You can download their free eBook of recipes for ideas at and be sure to follow them on Facebook.

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Welcome to flourish, a haven for all things homemade bath and body.

By reading flourish, you’re not just taking care of your skin. You’re discovering the importance of loving your skin, and everything in-between. flourish is more than just a blog. It’s our way of encouraging everyone to thrive in a healthy and vigorous way – to empower wellness in all aspects of your day-to-day life.

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