In this article I talk about how to make stretch marks fade and I have some tips and suggestions for preventing and/or improving the appearance of stretch marks.
Stretch marks are linear depressions in the skin that happened when the skin undergoes some sort of rapid stretching. We honestly don’t know why they happen. Probably some combination of genetics and hormonal influences. They tend to appear around pregnancy or puberty and also with changes in weight, like weight loss.
The other scenario is if you happen to be using a prescription medication cream that has steroids in it. If you apply it to the skin for a prolonged period of time, it actually can thin the skin and cause stretch marks.
That is an adverse side effect of steroids. So if you have a steroid cream lying around, make sure it’s okay to use it. Check in with your derm. Don’t just use it willy-nilly because bad side effects can happen with using steroid creams inappropriately or for a prolonged period of time.
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Stretch Mark Phases
There are two phases to stretch marks.
Initially they are red to light pink. Maybe a little purple, depending on your background skin tone and they are raised. But with time, they turn white and when you run your hand over your skin you’ll feel a little depression.
When it comes to improving the appearance of stretch marks or preventing them, you have to understand no procedure or product is going to work for everyone. These are just some things that have been shown to help some people.
The other thing that’s key is tackling stretch marks early.
Stretch marks in the phase that I mentioned when they’re read, kind of pink and raised, are more responsive to these treatments and the ultimate outcome of a stretch mark will be better.
If you try and treat a stretch mark when it’s already depressed and white, it’s a lot harder, a lot more difficult. They’re more resistant.
So tackling it early is key.
How to Make Stretch Marks Fade
Here are some things that can help when it comes to improving the appearance of stretch marks.
Applying moisturizer can actually help and a lot of people anecdotally report a variety of different types of moisturizers made a huge difference for them.
What seems to be the case is that just the action of massaging the moisturizer in alone might help. So when it comes to applying moisturizer to areas where you have stretch marks, you’re trying to prevent them, it seems as though taking the time to massage it in, really makes a difference, as opposed to just slopping it on. and going.
Moisturizer alone probably helps, but like I said, there are a lot of anecdotal reports of different moisturizers and different moisturizing ingredients. We do have some small studies looking at each of these, specifically almond oil, olive oil, cocoa butter and vitamin E.
The studies show that those ingredients do not actually fade stretch marks. At least in the studies. That being said, if it worked for you, fantastic. As I said, no ingredient is a slam-dunk in terms of efficacy.
Do stretch marks fade when you tan?
If you have stretch marks that are older and are white, one common myth is that tanning will help them go away. That is false. It’s actually the opposite. Tanning will make them more noticeable because the actual white part of the stretch mark cannot tan.
Tanning is destructive to the skin in many ways. It destroys collagen. So it’s definitely the wrong thing to do.
But sunless tanners can certainly camouflage the white marks. So give that a try. If you’re really bothered by the appearance of stretch marks, like on your thighs for example, try a sunless tanner. It will stain the white stretch mark and kind of camouflage it out.
An ingredient that actually seems to help is good old-fashioned hyaluronic acid.
What is hyaluronic acid? It’s naturally present in the deeper layers of our skin, but it’s in a ton of moisturizers and products.
Two actually fairly large studies showed that applying hyaluronic acid to early stretch marks made them less noticeable.
Topical Vitamin A
Another ingredient that has been shown to improve the appearance of stretch marks when used early is topical vitamin A. The prescription topical vitamin A, tretinoin, has been examined in studies and it was found that applying tretinoin to stretch marks in their early phase, when they’re read and raised, for 24 weeks, resulted in less noticeable stretch marks.
The people in the study who did not apply tretinoin had an increase in their stretch marks.
It seems as though tretinoin can help and logic follows that topical retinol might likely also help.
However, remember that topical vitamin A, unfortunately, is contraindicated in pregnancy. So for stretch marks in pregnancy, this is a no-go. But hyaluronic acid is certainly on the table.
There are also procedures that a dermatologist can do that will help stretch marks be less noticeable when used early. Chemical peels, lasers, microdermabrasion, radiofrequency and ultrasound are procedures that can help ultimately improve the appearance of stretch marks when done early on.
Usually a combination of a few different procedures is needed to yield the best results. For example, you might need to have pulsed laser and radiofrequency to really get the best results.
Obviously this is going to be more expensive than using a body lotion or body cream.
If you want to pursue these procedures, I strongly encourage you to go to a board-certified dermatologist. That way you get the best results.
Those are things that you can do to fade the appearance of stretch marks.
What about prevention? Is there anything that can be done to prevent stretch marks?
In all honesty, we don’t really know why they happen and it seems like it’s basically just bad luck. But there are two ingredients that seem promising from small studies for the prevention of stretch marks.
One of them I’ve already mentioned. It’s hyaluronic acid in a moisturizer. Using this might be helpful in preventing stretch marks formation.
Not the most robust data, but this is not a wasted effort in my opinion. You need a good moisturizer. It’s safe in pregnancy. When you go through pregnancy, your skin can become dry and irritated very easily, and massaging in moisturizer is relaxing and beneficial for your skin.
Give this a try. It might help in preventing stretch marks.
Another ingredient that might help is centella asiatica. This is a botanic ingredient that shows promise for wound healing and seems to be promising for preventing stretch marks formation.
A moisturizer that have this ingredient is the LA Roche-Posay Cicaplat Baume 85.
It’s really a nice thick balm consistency. It’s really good for keeping the skin hydrated and reducing trans epidermal water loss.
That’s what I can tell you about fading and preventing stretch marks. I know they can really bother people and affect their self-esteem. Hopefully these tips are helpful to you.
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Rebecca is a licensed aesthetician and certified laser technician with almost 15 years experience in the dermatology. Her life-long passion is making people look good and happy.