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The All-Over Moisturizer: Shea Butter

During a pre-summer fitness frenzy, it is not unusual to overlook the condition of your largest organ: your skin. And face it, we all look better when our skin is soft and smooth rather than dull and flaky.

One of the best bets for all-over moisturizing is shea butter. Exactly what is shea butter and why is it so soothing to our skin? This exotic-sounding cream originates from the Karite Nut tree (also known as the Mangifolia tree) found in the savannahs of central Africa. These trees, which can live for 300 years, have been called a godsend to Africans. Shea butter is a product of the oil extracted from Karite nuts, which are produced once a year, and has been used by healers for thousands of years for a multitude of skin ailments including dermititis, cracks, crevices and skin ulcers. Healing qualities This all-natural product contains cinnamic acid, which plays a protective role against damaging ultraviolet rays; latex, which helps prevent sun allergies, and vegetable fats, which promote cell regeneration and capillary circulation. "Shea butter is a protective cream with a lot of really nice healing qualities," says Canyon Ranch Corporate Spa Treatment Director Diane Trieste. "We combine it with organic handmade products from Hungary that contain plant extracts to fight skin-damaging free radicals. "Guests love our Sour Cherry and Shea Butter Body Bliss treatment because it is aromatic, and the shea leaves the skin super smooth. It is like walking outside and smelling orange tree blossoms: it just puts a smile on your face when you inhale." Chez Manifique! Shea Butter SpaClub Experience Canyon Ranch SpaClub® at The Venetian in Las Vegas offers another luxurious shea option: The Ultra-moisturizing Cocoon for singles or couples. This treatment begins with exfoliation, followed by a rinse in the shower to leave you completely clean and ready for the Soft Pack System - a self-contained, heated envelopment system. The 20 minutes of flotation in the heated cocoon allows pores to open and absorb maximum benefits from the shea butter. "It###s like being in a water bed - without the water," explains Shawn Smith, massage manager at SpaClub. "It feels like being in a womb: wonderfully relaxing. About half way through, the therapist unwraps your feet and gives you a wonderful foot massage. Guests just love it. It is really the ultimate in moisturizing treatments," says Smith. Copyright Canyon Ranch, www.canyonranch.com.