Stretch marks: they're something most of us fear getting, and if we ever do, are highly conscious about.
There's really no need to be ashamed - stretch marks are completely natural, and will happen to most of us at JFsome point during the course of our lives. However, if you're really struggling to live with them, there are ways to get rid of stretch marks pretty quickly, both through procedures and with natural remedies.
What causes stretch marks
It's simple: stretch marks are caused by life! Pregnancy, growth spurts, weight gain, bodybuilding and even genes can all cause stretch marks.
When our skin stretches, the middle layer of the skin can tear, resulting in the deeper layers of skin, as well as blood vessels, to show through. This is what causes stretch marks to appear on the surface of the skin, which are usually red or purple in colour at first, and turn silvery-white over time as the blood vessels contract. When stretch marks are about to occur, the area may become pink in colour and itch.
Stretch marks usually appear in the place that has increased in size, but are more common on areas where fat is stored, such as the tummy, breasts, upper arms, buttocks, thighs and shoulders in bodybuilders. They can also develop on the back, which is especially common in teenage boys.
Cushing's syndrome is another common cause, and if this is the case, stretch marks will be wider and longer, and more widespread across the body (they can even appear on the face).
How to prevent stretch marks
Of course, you shouldn't go about your life deliberately trying to avoid stretch marks! Most of the causes are out of our hands, however, there are certain steps you can take to avoid them in certain cases.
Pregnancy-related stretch marks are hard to avoid, but those caused by changes in weight are easier to manage. Whenever dieting, or building muscle, always do so in a steady, controlled way so as to not put strain on the skin.
When you are pregnant, the same rules can apply - despite the myth, you don't need to 'eat for two'. Try and keep your weight as balanced as possible to avoid adding extra strain to your belly.
How to get rid of stretch marks, FAST!
When it comes to lessening the appearance of your stretch marks, there are several different options.
If you have the budget and the inclination, you may opt for a cosmetic procedure or laser therapy to remove them. Both of these options are costly and timely, but can provide great results and diminish the appearance of your stretch marks dramatically.
What we recommend trying first, however, are home remedies. These are affordable, natural and easy to do in the comfort of your own home. Below are 7 of the best natural ways to treat stretch marks.
1. Stretch marks treatment using coconut oil
If you follow our blog regularly, you'll know what advocates we are of coconut oil. (See our benefits of coconut oil to see why!)
Coconut oil has some incredible properties, including its ability to moisturise deeply and quickly, and also help to heal skin.
When applied directly to stretch marks twice a day, you can expect to see a drastic improvement in their appearance - they should become less prominent in both colour and size.
Not only can coconut oil aid in the appearance of stretch marks, but it can also help to prevent them. Soft, supple skin is less likely to tear than taut, tight areas, so keeping it well moisturised is essential.
2. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is recommended for naturally treating many things, including acne, and stretch marks.
Vitamin A is a retinoid and can help improve skin health, thereby making it appear more youthful, smoother and generally healthier. This can be beneficial to stretch marks, both to help the torn skin heal and improve the appearance of surface marks.
Vitamin A can be bought and used topically, and orally. Including more Vitamin A rich foods in your diet, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, may also help.
There aren't many things that have been clinically proven to make stretch marks fade, but microdermabrasion is one of them. Microdermabrasion is a cosmetic procedure, similar to a scrub, but uses extremely fine crystals and also a vacuum to remove dead skin and improve the appearance of the skin.
Microdermabrasion can be pretty expensive, but luckily, there's another, more pocket-friendly home remedy you could try.
Using sugar as a scrub on affected areas will act in a similar way, stimulating blood flow and also exfoliating the skin to remove dead cells and allow the new ones to show through. Additionally, sugar is a natural humectant, meaning it will attract and lock in moisture leaving the skin supple and looking plumper.
Most of us have a bag of sugar in the kitchen, so there's really nothing to lose by trying out this method. Mix 1 cup sugar with an oil such as olive, or coconut, before and scrub directly onto the affected areas in small, circular motions. You'll need to give your skin a really good scrub to get rid of stretch marks, so rub away for 8-10 minutes if possible.
Don't forget to check out our other surprising uses for sugar too for more great ideas.
4. Aloe vera
Aloe vera is another ingredient we hear a lot about. It's frequently featured in home remedies of all kinds, and treating stretch marks is another one of them.
Despite aloe vera's high water content, it is full of enzymes, vitamin, minerals and fatty acids that make it a wonderful skin and wound healer. When applied directly to stretch marks, it will penetrate deeply into the skin.
Aloe vera application will help to heal torn skin, improve its elasticity, appearance and stimulate the production of new, healthy skin cells to lessen the appearance of stretch marks over time.
Aloe vera is inexpensive and available at most health stores so we'd definitely recommend giving it a go!
5. Hyaluronic acid
We've already briefly mentioned collagen - the stuff that maintains our skin's plump appearance and keeps it from sagging.
As we age, collagen production decreases in our faces and bodies, which means stretch marks and cellulite becomes more prominent.
6. Egg whites
Here's a bit of a wackier home remedy for you to try.
Egg whites are full of nutrients, including amino acids and proteins. When applied to the skin they can help to repair it, which may help to reduce stretch marks.
TRY IT: Whisk 2 egg whites and apply to the affected area with a sponge. Allow to dry then rinse with cold water.
Check out our other blog post for ways to use up your leftover egg yolks!
7. Cocoa butter for stretch marks
Cocoa butter is renowned for its ability to improve both skin appearance and health. It deeply penetrates the skin to intensely moisturise the layers.
Cocoa butter is widely used to help get rid of stretch marks, not only thanks to the benefits above but also as it can soften scar tissue - so those silvery lines become less visible.
Apply regularly for best results.
We're here to help you get rid of stretch marks FAST! Ask us any question you have in the comments below and we'll reply as soon as we can.