First things first: it is totally normal to have stretch marks. Seriously; up to 80 per cent of humans are estimated to have “tiger stripes” so they’re nothing to be ashamed of. That being said, it’s also totally understandable to want to minimise their appearance.
Sometimes when they first appear, stretch marks can be quite angry and red looking, so the focus on treating them is to make them less visible while also nourishing your skin.
What causes stretch marks?
Those frustrating little lines are caused whenever your body experiences a period of rapid growth (think pregnancy, weight gain, muscle mass increase, or growth spurts). The sudden size change causes the collagen under your skin to tear. This can cause temporary red/purple tear marks in the beginning.
Then, when skin snaps back to its original state, the tears usually fade back to a white/silver colour. The skin can look wrinkled and lined because that collagen structure underneath has been disrupted.
How can I treat them?
Look, I’m gonna be honest: there’s no tried-and-true cure. After all, stretch marks are actual tearing beneath the skin. It’s impossible to get rid of stretch marks completely but there are some things you can do to fade them and make them less noticeable.
Start off with a good exfoliation routine. Removing dead skin cells from the area can help further treatments penetrate the skin on a deeper level and help cells to regenerate.
Next, you want to look at a few topical treatments for the affected area. Many experts say that creams with added retinol; this ingredient stimulates collagen production which can help generate skin that is slightly thicker over time. (But not if you’re pregnant, retinol is a big no-no for the baby.) Sometimes retinols on their own can dry out the skin so make sure it’s either contained in a moisture retaining product or follow it up with a good humectant moisturiser.
If you want something a bit more mild than retinol then you can have a look at body oils. Oils are super fast absorbing and packed full of vitamins A and E which have been known to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. When you apply the oil, massage it in generously, as massaging the area has also been known to help.
If you really want to attack the stretch marks though, you can look into treatments that are a little more intensive such as microdermabrasion, or microneedling. Both procedures stimulate collagen production and work best with regular treatments.
Last on the list is laser therapy. Lasers can help stimulate melanin, the pigment that gives your skin its colour. Hitting the stretch marks with laser can help stretch marks get darker and blend in with the rest of your skin tone. Again though, you need more than one treatment for full results.
So there you have it! A number of different ways to try to treat your tiger stripes. But what we really want to leave you with is that STRETCH MARKS ARE NORMAL. We all have them and you can either try to treat them or embrace them like the goddess you are.
Head image: @strengthmarks
About the author
Elizabeth Best is a journalist, beauty expert, foodie and travel lover with a mild obsession for all things shimmery. She likes long walks down the makeup aisle and you can follow her adventures on Instagram @thebeautypalate.