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Beurre de karité pour bronzer.

Does shea butter cause tanning?

The search for natural tanning methods is becoming a concern for many people. Known for its multiple benefits for the body, hair, and skin, let's discover if shea butter contributes to tanning.

How does the tanning process occur?

In reality, tanning is a skin's defense reaction against harmful UV rays. It occurs following prolonged or multiple exposures to the sun. When the skin comes into contact with UV rays, the melanocytes increase their production of melanin to strengthen the protective barrier's action. Melanin is a natural pigment whose role is to absorb UV rays. Keratinocytes located in the epidermis transport the melanin in melanosomes originating from the melanocytes. As melanins are responsible for skin coloration, their migration to the surface increases the pigmentation of the exposed parts, hence the tanning. However, melanin alone is not enough to protect the skin from UV rays.

Throughout the year, many people are in search of methods to tan faster and achieve a sun-kissed complexion. Shea butter has been suggested as a solution. But is this really the case?

Using shea butter for tanning?

Known by its INCI name "Butyrospermum Parkii Butter", the shea butter is a regularly found ingredient in skincare products. Extracted from the nut of the shea fruit, this vegetable butter is renowned for its soothing, nourishing, repairing, and hydrating properties.

For shea butter to have a tanning effect, it would need to have an activating action on the melanogenesis, which is the process during which melanin is produced and distributed by the melanosomes in the epidermis. To date, there are no studies that prove a favorable action of shea butter on melanogenesis. On the contrary, some studies suggest that shea butter has an inhibitory action on this process, thus helping to reduce pigment spots by decreasing the level of melanin in the skin cells.

There are also no self-tanning agents in shea butter. Its active ingredients, such as karitene and vitamins, would rather work deeply and at the level of skin tissues to ensure their renewal. Shea butter would then extend the tan. It also provides basic protection in case of sun exposure, as it is considered equivalent to a very weak UV filter. It is possible to apply it as a precaution and ahead of the usual sunscreen before sun exposure.

Thus, shea butter does not tan the skin, however, it helps to extend the tan and enhance the action of sunscreens.

Self-tanning skincare: an alternative for achieving a sun-kissed complexion daily.

Although shea butter does not promote tanning, it is possible to achieve a uniform tan similar to that obtained from sunbathing, without sun exposure, thanks to self-tanning products.

Our Progressive Self-Tanning Serum DHA 10% + Carob Pulp provides a natural, progressive, and adjustable tan. The self-tanning agents in this serum are 100% natural. They react with the amino acids present on the surface of the epidermis to cause a progressive coloration of the skin without UV exposure. This serum is intended for use on the face and neck but can also be used on the body, alone or mixed with your regular cream. Apply 2 to 3 drops of serum, preferably in the evening, on clean and dry skin. Be sure to distribute the self-tanning serum evenly over the entire face and neck, avoiding the eye contour.

We recommend for achieving a gradual and sun-kissed complexion on your body the DHA 6% + Aloe Vera Self-Tanning Body Gel. The combination of DHA and erythrulose allows for a more uniform and long-lasting tan, without any orange undertones. This self-tanning body gel is particularly suitable for fair to medium skin tones that wish to achieve a natural sun-kissed complexion quickly and without UV exposure.


  • AKIHISA T. & al. Triterpene glycosides and other polar constituents of shea (Vitellaria paradoxa) kernels and their bioactivities. Phytochemistry (2014).

  • AKIHISA T. & al. Melanogenesis-inhibitory activity and cancer chemopreventive effect of glucosylcucurbic acid from shea (Vitellaria paradoxa) kernels. Chemistry & Biodiversity (2015).


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