In a series of new posts, I’m going to be tackling the top ten most googled beauty questions in an attempt to provide all the answers you’ll ever need in one place. First up is the dreaded question of stretch marks, something that all of us will suffer with at some point in our lives – be it the result of weight gain or pregnancy. Stretch marks are narrow streaks or lines that occur on the surface of the skin, with the tummy, bum, breasts and thighs most often affected. They’re often red or purple to start with, before gradually fading to a silvery-white colour that’s less obvious, but no more confidence draining. Stretch marks are (unsurprisingly) the result of the skin suddenly stretching: the middle layer of skin (dermis) breaks in places, allowing the deeper layers to show through. This results in that slightly odd appearance and texture that’s both difficult to conceal and can have a big impact on the clothes we wear – especially as it’s about to become swimwear season. Although there’s no magic answer to ridding yourself of any pesky stretch marks, there are some things you can do to minimise their appearance and help reduce visibility over time.
Prep, Prepare & Moisturise
If you’re concerned about getting stretch marks (through pregnancy or simply putting on weight) then it’s far easier to do as much as possible to prevent them appearing in the first place. Moisturising and hydrating your skin, via creams and oils, will help ensure you’re in the best condition possible: if your skin has a lot of stretching to do, it’s less likely to tear and create stretch marks if it’s hydrated. During pregnancy, even before you get your first stretch mark, it’s important to apply either a lightweight oil or nourishing butter to the surface of skin daily – my friends that have done this religiously throughout pregnancy have seen next to no stretch marks, compared to others who didn’t bother and found themselves with a stripey belly.
Invest In Glycolic Acid & Retinols
When faced with pesky marks that you’d rather be rid of, a regular dose of glycolic acid or retinol can help boost collagen production and ensure skin repairs itself. Treating a stretch mark like you would a wrinkle is the best analogy I can provide, as you want to encourage repair and renewal of the skin in order to create a smoother texture and more even tone. Many skincare products contain these ingredients, so making wise purchasing decisions and using a little on stretch marks may be a way to target the problem at the source. (NB – don’t use either of these if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding!)
Embrace Vitamin E
Vitamin E has been proven to help with skin condition and renewal, so picking up a body oil that has a high percentage will help to improve the appearance of stretch marks over a longer period of time. Brands such as Bio Oil and Palmer’s offer Vitamin E (among other ingredients) in concentrated form, helping you to apply topically on a daily basis. Vitamin E typically speeds cell production and repair, allowing the skin to heal itself more rapidly; it also penetrates into deep layers of tissue, repairing more than just surface wounds and helping the skin to become more elastic. This not only helps reduce existing stretch marks, it may prevent the skin from developing new ones.
Get The Essential Oils Out
Although this is very much a home remedy based upon the advice of women through the generations, it’s still advised that essential oils (including rose, lavender, geranium and frankincense) can help to soothe stretch marks and reduce their appearance. You should never apply pure essential oil to the skin, so mixing a few drops into a moisturiser is the best way to integrate this into your routine.
Supplements & Vitamins
Like any other skin condition, stretch marks can also be tackled from the inside out. High potency fish oil tablets work wonders when it comes to skin conditions, helping to not only hydrate and lubricate, but ensuring the skin can renew itself more effectively. My boyfriend has seen incredible results from taking up to nine fish oil capsules a day, his eczema reducing by an unfathomable amount; there’s no reason why ingesting daily supplements won’t have a beneficial effect on your skin and stretch marks too, so start popping those pills.
Laser Removal Or Surgical Options
If your stretch marks are really getting you down, there are a number of laser treatment options that claim to reduce the visibility and smooth out the skin. Although this is an expensive and drastic action, I’m a firm believer in embracing anything that makes you feel good about yourself. Many skin clinics offer a series of sessions to target areas of concern, helping to ‘burn’ away raised or pigmented marks that are having a serious impact upon confidence. I wouldn’t ever recommend going into this lightly, but if all else fails and you’re looking for a helping hand it’s well worth doing your research.
Our bodies perform at their optimum when we’re hydrated, so increasing your water intake and swapping coffee for herbal tea can have a big impact overall. Our skin loses its elasticity when its dehydrated, so ensuring it’s regularly topped up will ensure it’s flexible, glowing and increasingly able to look after itself. There’s never been a better reason to pick up a bottle of water.
Do you have issues with stretch marks? Do you have any further tips to share that could help others deal with this confidence draining skin condition?
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