Let’s talk stretch marks, because odds are you have them. (I surely do!) A whopping 90 percent of pregnant women, 70 percent of teen girls and 40 percent of teen boys will develop stretch marks, according to studies. It’s a fact of life: When your skin stretches, it leaves stretch marks. There’s nothing wrong with stretch marks — they’re a badge of pregnancy honor, a memory etched into your skin. But if you are ready to leave them behind, we can help.
Why do we get stretch marks?
Stretch marks are a normal part of womanhood, starting from puberty, says Edie Reads, the chief editor at Health Advise, a wellness website. While our skin is elastic, overstretching it disrupts the typical production of collagen and causes scars, aka stretch marks. This typically happens following sudden growth or weight gain, Reads says.
Getting rid of stretch marks
This involves restoring your skin’s structure, says Michelle Lee, M.D., a board-certified plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, California, and E!’s new Dr. 90210. Noninvasive methods such as lasers and microneedling injure the skin, triggering the body to build more collagen to improve the appearance of the stretch mark, Lee says. Creams — such as those with retinol — will also trigger the body to rebuild collagen to improve the appearance of stretch marks. Alternatively, more invasive methods such as tummy tucks will remove the skin that has been damaged by stretch marks. If you can surgically cut out the stretch mark, this works 100 percent, Lee says.
Key ingredients in stretch mark cream
When you’re seeking out an effective stretch mark creams, look for products containing cocoa butter to hydrate the skin, and vitamin E to help new skin cells grow, says Jamie Kim, a certified dermatology physician assistant in Southern California and the founder of My Itchy Child, a blog about childhood eczema. Shea butter, which is rich in vitamins A, D and E — as well as fatty acids essential for the skin cell’s membranes — has also been used effectively, says Adam Mamelak, M.D., an Austin-based dermatologist. If your stretch mark is relatively fresh, then using a retinoid will help the collagen repair itself — but it’s effective only if used at the most acute states of stretch mark formation, says Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist with Mudgil Dermatology in New York City and Long Island.
Stretch mark creams recommended by dermatologists
- Peter Thomas Roth PRO Strength Stretch Mark Cream: This contains 2 percent Regestril to target the appearance of future stretch marks; 3 percent Regu-Stretch to reduce stretch marks; and 5 percent lactic acid complex, shea butter, cocoa butter, avocado oil and ceramide NP. In clinical results, stretch marks improved after four weeks. $58 at Peterthomasroth.com
- Bio-Oil Skincare Oil: A study found that more than 50 percent of those who used this skin-care oil found that their stretch marks looked less pronounced. It contains vitamin E, chamomile oil, lavender oil, mineral oil, sunflower seed oil and rosemary oil to improve the appearance of stretch marks and scars. $15 at Walmart.com
- Mederma Stretch Marks Therapy: Containing Cepalin botanical extract, hyaluronic acid and Centella asiatica extract, this is most effective on new stretch marks. So if you’re newly pregnant or have recently gained weight, you can try this stat. $43 at Walgreens.com
- Paula’s Choice Skin-Smoothing Retinol Body Treatment: This over-the-counter stretch mark cream uses retinol to stimulate collagen production — so it works even if your stretch marks are older. Since it does contain retinol, however, you can’t use it while pregnant or breastfeeding. $29 at Paulaschoice.com