The Shea Adventure

All the ingredients used in L'OCCITANE products have a special relationship to nature, and to the beautiful region of Provence. However one stands out from its counterparts, by its distant origins, coming straight from Burkina Faso…
By Marine Normand

Getting to know shea butter is partly about understanding its richness. The history of this majestic tree, which can grow as high as 15 meters and with dense green foliage, begins in the savannas of Western and Central Africa, where it grows naturally. Indeed, its cultivation seems unthinkable given how slowly it develops. Living for up to two or even three centuries, one must wait 15 years to see the first fruits appear. And this isn't even the beginning of its most productive period, which happens between 50 and 100 years: which is to say, there's no point being in a hurry… The big dark-green nuts that it produces each year are harvested from the ground, rom late June to early September, and only by women. It's difficult work, as they then must extract the nut from the fruit, dry it, crush it and mix it with water to make shea butter. By virtue of the mysterious and sacred nature of the tree, men are not allowed to collect the fruits, nor try to destroy it.

Used as much across the areas of food and health as for sacred rituals, shea has been kept as a beauty secret for thousands of years. Its butter has often been many African women's only beauty product.

Indeed, it possesses numerous properties; a healing agent, it assists in treating dry skin and stretch marks as well as ulcers or eczema. In discovering the rich and surprising history of the shea tree, Olivier Baussan, founder of L'OCCITANE, decided to go to Burkina Faso and search it out in 1980. There he discovered this almost magical nut, and even though it does not originate from Provence, he decided to incorporate it into a line of products. He wasn't wrong. Shea butter has been a huge success and developed a real fan base, and Shea Butter Hand Cream is now a worldwide L’OCCITANE best seller. In fact, in the middle of winter, we’re fairly certain that this product can be found in women’s handbags all around the globe !

But shea butter is also at the heart of another great story. Discovering the work of these Burkinabe women, Olivier Baussan decided to support them by creating a fair-trade cooperative. Additionally, when the L’OCCITANE Foundation was established in 2006, one of its original goals was to help these women learn to read and write, and to achieve financial independence. Today, L’OCCITANE is proud to work with over 12,000 women in Burkina Faso. And you can be a part of this beautiful story, by succumbing to the magic of shea butter !

The Shea Adventure
The shea adventure
The shea adventure.
LOccitane

Latest articles

The Hôtel de Caumont: A New Art Center on the Horizon

The Hôtel de Caumont: A New Art Center on the Horizon

Dating from the eighteenth-century and under renovation since July 2013, the Hôtel de Caumont in Aix-en-Provence will reopen as an art center in May 2015, under the direction of Culturespaces. Let’s focus on the future cultural venue that has many fine surprises in store.
A Jewel Box for Cocteau

A Jewel Box for Cocteau

Since November 2011, The Jean Cocteau Museum belongs to the Menton village landscape: this museum designed by french architect Rudy Ricciotti is the first and most important public resource in the world devoted to the poet’s work.
zChocolat:  A Gourmet Gift for Mother’s Day

zChocolat: A Gourmet Gift for Mother’s Day

Looking for an original and tasty Mother’s Day gift idea? The online chocolate shop zChocolat offers a range of elegant, creative and fully customizable gift boxes; something to please moms around the world.