Unappealing stretch marks can make one cringe at their own body. They can make you prone to body shaming. It’s likely that you may have covered your stretch marks with clothing or makeup at one time or another.
For many women, stretch marks are the worst feature of pregnancy. They feel that the stretch marks mar their attractiveness and make a long-lasting change in their physical appearance. (1)
Commonly associated with pregnancy, stretch marks can occur on anyone. Medically, stretch marks are referred to as stria or striae. Pregnancy-induced stretch marks are called striae gravidarum.
- Causes of Stretch Marks
- Symptoms of Stretch Marks
- How to Prevent Stretch Marks
- How to Reduce the Appearance of Stretch Marks
- Method 1: Use Castor Oil
- Method 2: Use Vitamin E Oil
- Method 3: Use Coconut Oil
- Method 4: Use Cocoa Butter
- Tips for reducing the appearance of stretch marks
Causes of Stretch Marks
Stretch marks usually appear due to dramatic weight loss or gains, such as during the growth spurt in adolescence or rapid weight gain during pregnancy. (1)
The hormonal imbalance at puberty and in pregnancy or menopause is also a factor that gives rise to stretch marks in a female body. The hormonal imbalance reduces the skin’s elasticity and makes it more prone to dryness and damage.
Lack of collagen, which provides the skin its elasticity, can also make a person prone to stretch marks quickly.
Symptoms of Stretch Marks
Stretch marks usually appear as bands of parallel lines on the skin that exhibit a different color and texture than the natural complexion of your skin.
They may be red, pink, blue or purple in appearance and may fade to silvery-white with time. Newer stretch marks that look pink instead of white are the easiest to treat. The earlier you treat them, the better are the chances of clearing them up.
Body parts like the thighs, buttocks, abdomen, breasts, upper arms and armpits that have more fat content are more prone to getting stretch marks than other areas.
Stretch marks that occur during pregnancy often feel sore and itchy.
How to Prevent Stretch Marks
Stretch marks, especially those resulting from pregnancy, can’t always be prevented even though many creams and lotions promise to do so. What you can do is keep yourself well-hydrated and eat a healthy and diverse diet. Consume foods that will keep your skin in the best of its health and maintain its elasticity.
Stretch marks aren’t harmful and may go away on their own with time, but you may want to get rid of them for cosmetic purposes. Remember that stretch marks never disappear completely, but their appearance can be diminished to varying extents depending upon individual conditions.
How to Reduce the Appearance of Stretch Marks
If you feel that none of the expensive creams have delivered the promised results, you can use some tried-and-true home remedies for stretch marks that will deliver without any side effects.
Here are four proven natural remedies to reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
Method 1: Use Castor Oil
Castor oil is an easy, natural cure for stretch marks. The foul taste and laxative prowess of castor oil rarely let it be recognized as the asset to the skin that it really is. When used topically, castor oil rarely produces any side effects.
Between 80 and 90 percent of castor oil is comprised of ricinoleic acid, a fatty acid which makes castor oil a blessing to the skin. This fatty acid gives the oil its hydrating, moisturizing, healing and repairing properties. (2) As an added bonus, it keeps acne and signs of aging under control.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply castor oil on stretch marks for 15 min
- Apply castor oil on the stretch marks with a cotton ball.
- Massage the affected skin with the oil for about 10 minutes. Castor oil is extremely viscous, almost six times more viscous than olive oil. Massaging will help work the oil into the skin.
Include this practice in your daily routine until the stretch marks fade away.
Method 2: Use Vitamin E Oil
Vitamin E oil is a very popular skin tonic. It helps strengthen and condition the skin and make it more elastic. This makes vitamin E oil beneficial in diminishing stretch marks.
When applied in the earliest stages, vitamin E oil can prevent the development of stretch marks and erase them completely. Pregnant women should have a daily intake of 15 mg of vitamin E through their diet to keep the stretch marks at bay. (3)
Single-Step Treatment: Apply vitamin E oil on the stretch marks daily
- With a cotton ball, apply vitamin E oil on the stretch marks.
- Lightly massage the area for 10 minutes multiple times throughout the day for best results.
Do this regularly once a day until the marks fade away. Pregnant women should do this during the course of the pregnancy and after until the marks fade away.
Method 3: Use Coconut Oil
The goodness of coconut oil is gaining popularity very fast. Besides its many benefits regarding health and beauty, coconut oil can also help diminish the appearance of stretch marks.
Being inexpensive, it is quite the budget-friendly solution for stretch marks. It is quite light, so it readily absorbs into the skin. It moisturizes and heals the skin, which gradually diminishes the appearance of the stretch marks.
Though there are no clinical trials associated with the effectiveness of coconut oil in reducing the appearance of stretch marks, it has been used as an active component in creams used to clear stretch marks. (4)
Single-Step Treatment: Massage stretch marks with coconut oil
Coconut oil remains a waxy solid at temperatures below 75° F, but it easily melts in your hand with your body temperature. You can also warm it up before applying it over your stretch marks.
- Put a dime-sized scoop of coconut oil in your palm. Rub it between your hands to melt it completely.
- Massage the oil over the stretch marks for about 10 minutes 3-4 times a day for best results.
Since coconut oil is very safe, you can use this remedy twice a day until you notice positive results.
Method 4: Use Cocoa Butter
Cocoa butter is another wonderful ingredient that can help diminish the appearance of stretch marks on your body. It is a common ingredient in the leading formula-based creams and lotions for erasing stretch marks. Although we do not have enough scientific data to support the claims that it helps in reducing the appearance of stretch marks. (5)
It moisturizes and repairs the skin, which helps fade away the stretch marks. You can also use it as an ingredient in homemade body butters and lotions for easier application.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply cocoa butter and massage
- Apply a little cocoa butter on the stretch marks.
- Massage it over the area until it gets completely absorbed by the skin.
This remedy can also be repeated twice a day without any side effects. Continue use for at least 1 to 2 months to get positive results.
Tips for reducing the appearance of stretch marks
- Start treating your stretch marks as early as possible for the best results. The older the stretch marks, the deeper they are set into the skin.
- Avoid scratching the stretch marks and touching them unnecessarily. Scratching makes small tears in the skin, which can make the problem worse.
- Always use pure castor oil of good quality. When it comes to castor oil, the lighter the color, the better the quality.
- Pregnant women should not consume castor oil, as it may bring on untimely labor. Always consult your doctor before consuming castor oil if pregnant. Topical application is safe and harmless.
- Take care not to wash the skin for at least a couple of hours after applying any of the prescribed oils, otherwise, the oils will get washed off as well. For the best results, the remedies should be done before going to bed.
- You can warm up the oils before applying for better absorption. For best results, cover the area with a thin cotton cloth and apply a warm compress for 15 to 20 minutes. You can use a hot water bottle or a rice heating pad for this purpose.
- Olive oil, avocado oil, emu oil, and shea butter can also be used to diminish stretch marks.
- NHS Choices. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stretch-marks/.
- Elsaie ML, Baumann LS, Elsaaiee LT. Striae Distensae (Stretch Marks) and Different Modalities ... Dermatologic Surgery. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/24375828. Published May 2009.
- Farahnik B, Park K, et al. Striae gravidarum: Risk factors, prevention, and management. International Journal of Women's Dermatology. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352647516300272. Published December 6, 2016.
- Ud‐Din S, McGeorge D, Bayat A. Topical management of striae distensae (stretch marks ... Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology & Venerology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5057295/. Published October 2015.
- Karia UK, Padhiar BB, Shah BJ. Evaluation of Various Therapeutic Measures in Striae Rubra. Journal of Cutaneous & Aesthetic Surgery. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4924406/. Published 2016.
Summary of How to Get Rid of Stretch Marks Fast
Download this infographic.