Ah, stretch marks. No matter how you look at them (love-filled scars acting as a testimony to your mothering body or a painful reminder of times you’d rather forget), they’re not always easy to live with – whether they appear on your stomach, chest, hips, thigh or bum. Luckily, we have all the tips you’ll need to banish them forever (or at least minimise them significantly!).
What causes stretch marks?
The result of skin stretching or shrinking rapidly (thereby pressurising and breaking the internal collagen and elastin which then allows underlying blood vessels to appear), stretch marks are most commonly associated with pregnancy, with a whopping 50-90% of women reportedly getting them at some point in the nine months. You may, however, have a genetic predisposition to them (thanks mum!), or find them as a by-product of weight-related conditions, such as puberty-related growth spurts, dropping a significant number of dress sizes in a short space of time or sudden muscle gain.
What makes stretch marks so difficult to treat is the fact that they originate from the deep dermal layer of the skin.
So, what can you do?
How to get rid of stretch marks
There are lots of tried and tested home remedies that can help minimise the appearance of stretch marks.
- Aloe Vera. Helps treat the skin fast and effectively.
- Coconut oil. Increases blood flow to the skin and produces collagen fibres – helping your skin to retain its elasticity.
- Tea. Both black or chamomile, this is a highly effective and quick at-home method, thanks to the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants packed in the former, and the anti-inflammatory properties of the latter – all helping to minimise cell damage and control skin pigmentation.
- White sugar. Not good to eat, but oh-so-good to rub into your skin, thanks to its status as a natural exfoliant – helping eliminate dead cells and promote the formation of new ones.
- Lemon juice. The natural acid helps lighten stretch marks efficiently and speeds up the healing process – along with a whole host of other skin conditions. It’s best to dilute with water before applying to prevent any irritation.
- Tea tree oil. Hailing from our very own tea tree here in New Zealand, this wondrous oil has been used in skin treatment by Australian aboriginals for decades – with no signs of slowing down any time soon!
- Olive oil. Rich in healthy fats and Vitamin E – both responsible for speeding up the skin’s healing process.
- Egg whites. Sounds strange (and it is a bit), but containing lots of amino acids, which can repair skin, the part of the egg that everyone loves to eat is also pretty well received when applied topically, too! (Seems like Mrs Doubtfire had the right idea, after all!)
- Potato juice. Another odd one, but potatoes can naturally brighten the skin, thanks to the starch which helps to regenerate skin cells – ultimately helping to fade stretch marks.
- Onions. Bound to make you laugh – not cry – thanks to the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties of the flavonoids and quercetins contained.
- Gelatine – to eat, not apply topically, as it can help your body to produce collagen. Most people lack this in their daily diet, so taking it as a supplement is always a good idea.
- Castor oil. Helps lock in moisture whilst also offering antibacterial and antiseptic properties.
As ever, what we eat has a huge impact on our skin. Choose foods rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, zinc, protein and omega-3s. Green tea is another great choice, too, thanks to the antioxidants packed in it. We also advise taking a collagen supplement, too, and we are proud to stock the amazing offering from Koru Nutrition!
The wonder vitamin that’s appearing in more and more of our blogs – and for good reason! The retinol found in Vitamin A (often turned into a variety of skin creams) produces collagen which – as discussed above – is great for stretch marks but may not be safe to use in pregnancy or while breastfeeding, so always speak to your doctor first.
Moisturising the skin helps tighten it, both reducing the appearance of stretch marks and helping to prevent the formation of new ones. Use straight after bathing or showing to help lock in the product. Keeping your body hydrated internally is another must, too, in helping your skin stay soft and supple, so make sure you’re drinking water throughout the day. If you’re not a huge fan of the stuff, try chomping on cucumber and watermelon for an added boost.
Even low-intensity activities, such as walking, swimming and yoga, helps to regulate and increase circulation in the body through the release of antioxidants – increasing the skin’s capacity to stretch. Exercise also boosts muscle tone, helping ward off the appearance of stretch marks.
Poor lifestyle choices could have a massive impact, too:
- Sun. Contrary to popular belief, getting a tan will not help disguise stretch marks – if anything, it can make them worse, thanks to the UV rays which will damage both collagen and elastin! Avoid direct sun wherever possible and always use a sunscreen with SPF 30 minimum, as well as wearing protective clothing.
- Smoking. Reduces blood flow to the skin, as well as depriving the body of the essential nutrients it needs to keep skin healthy and damaging both collagen and elastin through the free radicals it releases.
There is a range of in-salon stretch marks treatments that can do wonders:
- LED light therapy. Red light therapy, in particular, uses infrared light to penetrate the skin, thus stimulating the production of collagen and elastin whilst also improving blood flow. An added bonus? It’s both chemical and pain-free – yay!
- Microneedling. The Dermapen is a great tool against stretch marks, thanks to its ability to get the skin to secrete new collagen fibres and stimulate blood flow in response to the tiny pinpricks it makes.
The sooner you treat them, the better the results, so don’t delay – book today!