Tiger stripes. Battle scars. Lightning strikes. Whatever you want to call them, stretch marks are among the most universal of cosmetic issues. In fact, around 80% of us have some amount of stretch marks.
You probably know that medically, stretch marks are harmless and they’re more of a cosmetic issue. That doesn’t mean we don’t sometimes wish we could wave a magic wand and bid our stretch marks adieu, though. The first step to defeating any enemy is to know them, so let’s get to know stretch marks.
What Are Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks are actually scars. Our skin has some natural elasticity to accommodate for ongoing changes in our size and shape, but it’s only able to handle small, slow changes. If an area of your body grows too much too quickly, your skin’s elasticity can’t keep up. This creates tears in the middle layer of your skin, the dermis, which ultimately leads to scars.
Most of us get our first stretch marks with the dawn of puberty. Growth spurts and changes to the hips tend to leave stretch marks behind. Of course, stretch marks are also common due to pregnancy and rapid weight gain.
Like scars, stretch marks can shapeshift a bit over time. They might start out as red or pink marks, later fading to be closer to your skin color. They can fade a bit over time, but for the unlucky majority of us, they don’t disappear entirely – at least not on their own.
Why Do Some People Have More Stretch Marks Than Others?
We all know a few of those folks who have no stretch marks to speak of, even when they have all kinds of curves or have had multiple pregnancies. Other than “some folks have all the luck,” why are some people more prone to stretch marks than others?
Ultimately, your susceptibility to stretch marks depends on the amount of strength and elasticity in your skin. This strength and elasticity largely come from collagen. As a result, women tend to get more stretch marks than men do because men naturally have more collagen.
There are many other factors that affect your collagen, and all of these will impact your risk for stretch marks too. Aging and sun damage both reduce collagen and make stretch marks more likely to appear. The hormone cortisol, one of the hormones released when you’re under stress, also lowers your collagen. That’s one more reason to invest in a relaxing bubble bath.
How Can I Reduce My Stretch Marks?
If you already have stretch marks you want to minimize or if you want to lower your risk for developing stretch marks in the future, especially if you have a baby on board or plan to soon, there are plenty of strategies that can help.
Generally, the most effective techniques will be professional skin care treatments like microneedling, laser treatments, and chemical peels. Of course, those procedures can be pricey and sometimes painful. If you prefer the slow and steady route of skin care products, try these top options.
Phyto-C SuperHeal O-Live Mask
The Phyto-C SuperHeal O-Live Mask is a restorative skin mask that specializes in repairing skin damage. That include stretch marks and other scars. The mask works to rebuild the collagen in those “striped” areas, fading your current stretch marks and making future marks less likely to appear.
DCL C Scape High Potency Body Lotion
One of the top ways to make stretch marks less likely (and make them less visible after they’ve already made their debut) is hydrating your skin. The DCL C Scape High Potency Body Lotion is a powerhouse of a moisturizer. Not only does it hydrate your skin but it stimulates collagen production and enhances your skin’s structure in a scar-reducing way.
Babor Collagen Cream Rich
Babor’s Collagen Cream Rich is another tremendous product that tackles stretch marks on top of other common skin issues. For starters, it strengthens your skin’s natural moisture barrier to restore richer hydration. It also repairs scar tissue like stretch marks by rebuilding new collagen, leaving you with stronger and more even skin.
iS Clinical Super Serum Advance+
Serums are the ultimate tools for skin care because these products have especially small particles. This allows them to reach deeper layers of the skin (like the dermis, where stretch marks reside). iS Clinical’s Super Serum Advance+ has the benefit of building new collagen and combatting scars, whether you’re using it facially for anti-aging or using it on your body for stretch marks.
Kicking Your Stretch Marks to the Curb
Stretch marks shouldn’t be a source of embarrassment. Almost all of us have them, and in many cases, they’re reminders of incredible periods of change in our lives, so by all means, rock them like the mementoes they are if you choose to! If you prefer the way you look with fewer stretch marks, though, try the products above to work toward that smoother, more even complexion.