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beurre de karité pour prolonger le bronzage

Shea Butter: How to extend your tan and achieve a sun-kissed complexion?

Vacations or beach stays are a way to naturally tan. After the summer and vacation period, it's normal to look for a way to maintain your sun-kissed complexion. Follow our advice to prolong your tan using shea butter.

Published January 31, 2024, by Manon, Head of Scientific Communication — 4 min read

How does our skin tan?

Tanning is a natural skin protection mechanism when exposed to the sun. When the skin is exposed to UV rays, the melanocytes, epidermal cells, begin to produce melanin, a natural pigment responsible for the color of our tan. Its role is to absorb the sun's rays. However, melanin alone is not enough to defend the skin from UV rays. The keratinocytes located in the epidermis also begin to multiply in response to the sun's rays to make the skin thicker and waterproof.

Maintaining your tan with shea butter: a possibility?

Hydration and nutrition are the main factors for prolonging one's tan. UV rays dry out the epidermis and accelerate the process of cell renewal, therefore promoting peeling. Thus, it is important to adopt a moisturizing and nourishing routine to preserve one's tan.

The shea butter is recognized for its moisturizing and nourishing properties when applied to the skin. It enhances the action of the skin's lipid barrier, helping to protect it from external aggressions and reduce transepidermal water loss.

A clinical study was conducted on 10 volunteers who applied a shea butter cream. Cutaneous conductimetry measurements demonstrated that short-term hydration is observed. It reaches its peak one hour after application and then persists for 8 hours.

Oleic Acid and phytosterols are components of shea butter. They stimulate the production of sebum by the sebaceous glands. Thestearic acid is known for its emollient and nourishing properties. Therefore, the application of shea butter helps to strengthen the skin's protective barrier, which is itself composed of fatty acids.

In all cases, the tanning cannot last more than a month after the last sun exposure due to cell differentiation. This natural process is characterized by the maturation of epithelial cells that load up with keratin to result in dead cells, constituting the horny layer that eventually gets shed. The keratinocytes thus continually renew themselves in a cycle of approximately 28 days.

How to use it?

To apply, warm a dab of pure, unrefined shea butter between your hands and then spread it over clean, dry skin. Repeat this process daily to maintain your tan for as long as possible. Other tips are also effective in preserving your sun-kissed complexion and extending your tan.


  • POELMAN M. C. & al. Étude de l'activité hydratante d'une émulsion essai de l'émulsion Xéroderm. Les Nouvelles Dermatologiques (1988).

  • PEKER K. & al. Medicinal and nutritional benefits from the shea tree. Journal of Biology, Agriculture and Healthcare (2017)


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