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Shea butter for preventing and reducing stretch marks.

Shea butter for preventing and reducing stretch marks.

Stretch marks, visible micro-lesions on the skin, can occur during pregnancy, adolescence, or as a result of repeated dieting. They are often unsightly and can cause self-consciousness. To prevent their occurrence, natural methods such as shea butter can be used.

Summary
Published January 31, 2024, by Manon, Head of Scientific Communication — 5 min read

Stretch marks: causes, appearance, and risk factors.

Stretch marks are skin lesions that share similarities with scars. They are the result of tearing in the deep dermis, that is, the skin tissues located between the epidermis and the hypodermis. Generally, stretch marks become visible during adolescence and pregnancy, either during sudden growth spurts or due to hormonal upheaval. They can also appear when the affected part of the body increases in size.

The stretching of the skin creates a disruption in the skin's structure, which breaks the collagen fibres. Collagen is a protein naturally present in the dermis and contributes to its structure.

Stretch marks appear as streaks, elongated scars, or linear depressions that align with the direction of skin tension. They are progressive. Indeed, the first phase, or the inflammatory phase, is characterised by a reddish-purple appearance. This is due to the dilation of blood vessels and the skin may be painful. During the second phase, or the scarring phase, the stretch marks lighten until they take on a pearly white colour. No treatment can act on this type of stretch marks, they are permanent.

They are generally located under the breasts, on the thighs, on the hips or in the abdominal area. In others, they may appear in the lower back, on the inner side of the knees and/or at the root of the arms. Moreover, there are also forms of stretch marks related to health issues, notably an excess of corticosteroids, which are accompanied by other signs.

Preventing stretch marks with shea butter.

During pregnancy or in the context of weight loss, the use of shea butter can prove beneficial in preventing the onset of stretch marks. This vegetable butter possesses hydrating and nourishing properties for the skin. Thanks to its high lipid content, it penetrates the skin barrier to deeply nourish the epidermal cells. Shea butter also contains resinous esters that soften the skin and prevent the loss of elastin.

The triterpenes found in this oil contribute to cellular renewal and the protection of collagen to prevent it from breaking down. They inactivate proteases such as collagenase, a metalloprotease, and elastase, a serine protease. Shea butter aids in cellular renewal and helps to make collagen fibres more resilient.

Thus, to anticipate the appearance of stretch marks, it is recommended to use shea butter by massaging the affected area. The massage will stimulate microcirculations in the dermis as well as the production of collagen and elastin.

Diminishing stretch marks with shea butter.

Addressing already established stretch marks proves to be quite challenging, if not impossible. Indeed, they do not completely disappear, especially when they are in the scarring phase. However, stretch marks in the inflammatory phase, of a reddish-purple colour, can be diminished if they are treated promptly.

When stretch marks form, this involves a inflammation and an increase in vascularisation. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, shea butter can act through the NF-kB signalling pathway to reduce the redness of new stretch marks and alleviate itching.

Rich in Vitamin A, which is an antioxidant agent, shea butter enables the skin to heal and ensures good cellular renewal.

Damaged skin is more susceptible to environmental factors, particularly UV rays. Prolonged exposure to the sun can cause a darkening of stretch marks. The esters contained in shea butter absorb some of the UVB rays. However, shea butter alone does not constitute a sunscreen but when used in conjunction with a sunscreen, it helps to boost the SPF index. To do this, simply apply a layer of pure, unrefined shea butter to the stretch marks before using a sun protection.

To alleviate stretch marks with shea butter, we recommend our baobab oil stretch mark gel-in-oil enriched with shea olein. It should be applied regularly by massaging into clean, dry skin twice a day. This gel is recommended for preventing all types of stretch marks, whether they are related to hormonal changes (pregnancy, adolescence), or to a stretching of the skin tissues due to growth, weight loss or gain.

Sources:

GAUTAM H. K. &al. Anti-inflammatory effects of shea butter through inhibition of iNOS, COX-2, and cytokines via the Nf-κB pathway in LPS-activated J774 macrophage cells. Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine (2012).

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

BABY A.R. &al. Butyrospermum parkii butter increased the photostability and in vivo SPF of a molded sunscreen system. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology (2020).

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