How to Get Rid of Stretch Marks: 12 Products and Treatments
Okay, consider this your daily reminder that stretch marks are 100 percent normal (seriously though, over 80 percent of Americans have them)â€”as is the decision to embrace or disguise them. And if you happen to fall into the camp of people who want to get rid of their stretch marks, youâ€™re probably well aware of the fact that there is a lot of misinformation out there. Bc despite what your Insta feed might be telling you, thereâ€™s actually no at-home product or in- office treatment thatâ€™ll completely destroy your stretch marks. Which, yeahâ€”not exactly what you wanted to hear.That said, there are a handful of things you can do to minimize the appearance of stretch marksâ€”think: slathering on a retinol- spiked body cream or booking a laser appointmentâ€”so long as you go into the process knowing what they can (and canâ€™t) do for your skin. Down to learn more? Keep reading for 12 expert-approved tips, tricks, and product recs for safely (and effectively!) reducing the appearance of stretch marks.
What causes stretch marks?
According to dermatologist Arash Akhavan, MD, stretch marks are caused when there's a period of rapid growth in your body (like growth spurts, pregnancy, weight gain, or increased muscle mass) that suddenly stretches the skin, and, in turn, causes the collagen bundles under your skin to tear away from each other. So when the skin returns to its usual state (i.e., when it stops growing), "it can look wrinkled and lined, because itâ€™s not supported by the same collagen structure underneath,â€ he says.
Do stretch marks ever really go away?
Considering the cause of stretch marks is literal tearing deep beneath the skin, it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that there's no tried-and-true cure. "Itâ€™s literally impossible to 100 percent get rid of your stretch marks," says Dr. Akhavan. But don't freakâ€”there are steps you can take to reduce their appearance, namely by rebuilding the collagen in your skin with some excellent OTC products and a committed skincare routine, like...
1 Get Rid of Stretch Marks With Retinol Creams Chantecaille Retinol Body Treatment
Because there are no FDA-approved prescription creams for stretch marks, Dr. Akhavan suggests using a lotion spiked with retinol, which stimulates your collagen production to generate new, slightly thicker skin over time. Basically, it's as close to a "cure" as you can get. And don't worry about the dry-skin side effects; this rich lotion uses sugar-derived humectants to draw water into the skin throughout the day to stave off itchiness.
2 Treat Stretch Marks With Antioxidants Paula's Choice Retinol Skin-Smoothing Body Treatment
While you're stocking up on retinol body creams, you might as well invest in a formula that's also spiked with antioxidants like vitamins C and E (this pick from Paula's Choice is one of my personal favorites). When coupled with the collagen-stimulating effects of retinol, vitamin-packed ingredients can help hydrate, soften, and even brighten your skin (a win-win when you're looking to get rid of stretch marks).
3 Prevent and Treat Stretch Marks With Hyaluronic Acid NÃ©cessaire The Body Serum
Dermatologist Morgan Rabach, MD, has told Cosmo that she suggests looking for three ingredients when attempting to minimize the appearance of stretch marks: prescription retinol, silicone, and hyaluornic acid (which not only hydrates, but also plumps lines). This serum is absolutely packed with hyaluronic acid, and when you massage it onto your body regularly, you'll notice your skin looksâ€” and feelsâ€”noticeably softer and smoother.
4 Minimize Stretch Marks With Silicone Aroamas Advanced Scar Gel Medical-Grade Silicone
Speaking of silicone: Turns out it's a really smart ingredient for minimizing the appearance of stretch marks, thanks to its ability to the smooth the texture and feel of rough skin or marks. This gelâ€”which also works great on scarsâ€”is super lightweight and non-greasy, and it's especially effective when used over time (think: slather on this bb regularly for three to six months).
5 Try Dry Brushing for Stretch Marks Elemis Body Detox Skin Brush
Here's the thing: Physical exfoliation isn't going to make your stretch marks disappear (sry). But what it can do is make your retinol creams work better, thanks to the fact that it helps loosen and lift dead skin cells that might be getting in the way of the formula. Dry brushingâ€”aka gently brushing your totally dry skin before you jump into the showerâ€”is a great option for "normal" skin types (if you've got sensitive skin, eczema, or rosacea, you'll def need to skip).
6 Use Body Exfoliators for Stretch Marks Ren AHA Smart Renewal Body Serum
Physical exfoliation not totally your thing? No probâ€”you can get the same benefits (minus any irritating side effects) with a chemical exfoliant (think: alpha- or beta-hydroxy acids that gently and effectively loosen dead skin cells). This lightweight body serum from Ren is spiked with lactic acid (a gentle AHA) and shea butter (a super hydrator) that help leave your skin softer and smoother over time.
7 Disguise Stretch Marks With Self-Tanner St. Tropez Gradual Tan Everyday Tinted Body Lotion
PSA: Self-tanning is a quick and easy way to temporarily minimize the appearance of your stretch marks. For a glowy and ultra-smooth finish, try working a gradual tanning lotion into your daily routine (this one from St. Tropez builds into a subtle, streak-free tanâ€”just make sure you wash your hands after you apply it).
8 Get Rid of Stretch Marks With Lotion Is Clinical Body Complex
Want something even more lightweight? Look for a retinol-filled body lotion, like this one from Is Clinical, which won't leave you feeling sticky or dry. Just make sure to skip all retinol-based products if you're pregnant or nursing (retinoids are a big no-no for your baby), and try your luck with a stretch-mark oil, instead.
And be weary of using any products that make your skin irritated and inflamed (look out for stinging and tingling), says Dr. Akhavan. "The inflammation can temporarily mask your stretch marks, but the cream isn't actually changing your skin in any way."
9 Get Rid of Stretch Marks with Body Scrubs Anese That Booty Tho Scrub
I know, I knowâ€”using a body scrub alone can't banish stretch marks. But using an exfoliator before applying a collagen-building moisturizer, serum, or oil can help remove dry, rough skin for maximum product absorption.
Despite sounding a little abrasive (broken walnuts?!), this beloved booty scrub has a long list of positive reviews, with customers describing it feeling as gritty as beach sand without an overpowering scent. Another bonus? It lathers slightly, which makes massaging it into your butt just a bit more satisfying.
10 Get Rid of Stretch Marks with Body Oil Bio-Oil
If retinol sounds too next-level, try a gentle, allover body oil like this one (which, fun fact, also happens to be Kim Kardashian's favorite stretch-mark fighter). It's fast-absorbing and filled with vitamins A and E to soften skin and give you a Kim K glow, all of which can help temporarily reduce the look of your marks.
11 Get Rid of Stretch Marks with Laser Treatments
If you're looking for in-office treatments that work, "the ICON 1540 Fractional Laser is the only FDA-approved laser for the treatment of stretch marks," says Dr. Akhavan. Patients have been shown to have a 50 to 75 percent improvement in the appearance of their stretch marks after a few sessions, he adds.
The laser delivers pulses of energy into your skinâ€”don't worry, you're numbed firstâ€”tricking your cells into thinking they're injured, says Dr. Akhavan. This causes your body's natural healing process to kick in, triggering your cells to release all the chemicals they need to create new collagen in the area, all of which eventually improves the appearance of your stretch marks.
12 Get Rid of Stretch Marks with Microneedling Ora Microneedle Face & Full Body Roller Kit
"My first choiceâ€”and the safest optionâ€”would be the laser treatment," says Dr. Akhavan, "but because of cost or because someone is hesitant to try lasers, my next choice would be microneedling." The treatment creates tiny (and relatively painless) punctures in the skin that trigger the body's wound-healing process (similar to how the laser works) to stimulate collagen and elastin production.
The only drawbacks: It takes at least four months to see results, and it can be irritating if used incorrectly, so check in with your derm first. Regardless of which stretch-mark treatment you choose, results will not be immediate, so you need to be patient, says Dr. Akhavan. Easier said than done, right?
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