When I became pregnant with my first child, I remember becoming mildly obsessed with trying to anticipate all the changes that would be happening to my body. Everyone around me had advice or a sure-proof way to prevent stretch marks — body oil, lotions, and plenty of old wives’ tales. As an esthetician student at the time, I knew from my skincare education that there is no way to truly avoid stretch marks. But, I quickly learned there are plenty of ways to help minimize and treat them.
What Causes Stretch Marks?
For most women, you are either predisposed to getting stretch marks during pregnancy or you aren’t. It’s all in your DNA. However, you can acquire stretch marks outside of pregnancy, too, if you’ve had significant weight or muscle gain in a short amount of time. It also has a lot to do with hormones. Stretch marks are essentially scars that form when collagen and elastin fibers deep within your skin (or dermis) become damaged and tear, giving you those visible, inflamed stripes.
How Can They Be Minimized?
While there is no one magic product that will completely erase stretch marks, there are plenty of options to help treat them and make them less noticeable if you catch them early. When the scars are fresh, they appear red, pink or even a dark purplish color. As time goes on, they turn white or a silver color.
To reduce the appearance of new, minor stretch marks, you can apply products that are rich in vitamin C, peptides or as salve like Scar & Stretch by Sincerely Different, which contains neroli oil to help fade scars and stretch marks. All three of these ingredients stimulate collagen production in your skin, softening and lessening the appearance of scars. Another option is applying a serum or lotion that contains hyaluronic acid, which plumps the skin, making the scars smoother and less red. Better yet, all of these ingredients are safe to use while pregnant and breastfeeding. When applying products like the Scar & Stretch Salve or a similar lotion, be sure to take that time to really massage the product into the scars to get the best benefit.
If you have old scars that are silver or white in color, laser therapy or microdermabrasion might be a better option. Laser therapy is performed by a dermatologist and helps break up the scar tissue so new collagen is stimulated to regenerate. Microdermabrasion, which can be performed by a dermatologist or esthetician, exfoliates the top layer of skin. This lessens the thickness of the scar tissue, thereby making them less noticeable.
Finally, remember that stretch marks, in one form or another, affect more than half of women at some point in their lives. Loving yourself and appreciating your amazing body — stretch marks and all — is an important step of taking care of your skin, as well as yourself.