Stretch marks are nothing to be ashamed of. Almost all of us get them at some point in our life. So what can you do to help prevent them and minimize their appearance? Here’s what you need to know.
Causes of stretch marks
Even though skin is remarkably elastic, gaining or losing weight quickly can cause stretch marks. The most common times we get stretch marks are during puberty, when we grow a great deal in a short amount of time, and during pregnancy. When they first appear, they are usually red or purple in colour, and then they disappear into faint white or silvery lines indented into your skin.
How to prevent stretch marks from forming
Since stretch marks are difficult to get rid of, your best bet is to try to prevent them from appearing to begin with. If you’re on a weight loss program, avoid gaining or losing weight too rapidly (so yo-yo dieting is not a good idea, and besides, it’s unhealthy for you!). In cases when rapid changes in weight are unavoidable (such as during a teenage growth spurt or during pregnancy), keeping your skin well moisturized so that it’s more elastic will help somewhat. Use products that are deeply hydrating (look for ingredients such as ceramides, cocoa butter or shea butter), and apply them several times a day to the areas where the skin will stretch most: your belly, hips, thighs and glutes.
How to minimize the appearance of stretch marks
While no treatment exists as of yet to remove stretch marks completely, you can take steps to make them less noticeable. Applying a glycolic acid product will both help renew the surface of the skin (glycolic acid is from the alpha hydroxy acid family) and promote collagen production in the skin (the plumpness will help diminish the marks’ appearance). Vitamin C has also been shown to help boost collagen production, and you’ll find that many products designed for common “problem areas” contain vitamin C. Lastly, if you have the budget, laser treatments by a dermatologist can promote collagen production and help hide older, white stretch marks, which are typically harder to treat.