Stretch marks occur when the skin is stretched beyond its limits, leaving it unable to adapt itself. When its elasticity just isn’t enough anymore, tiny tears occur and that’s where a stretch mark becomes visible. This happens either while we’re growing up when we gain or lose a lot of weight in a very short time or during pregnancy. Stretch marks cannot be cured. There are creams that can fade their appearance but they never really go away. If you want to avoid stretch marks, all you can do is try to prevent them.
It’s very difficult to do anything about it in the first two cases. We usually don’t notice the rapid change before the tears actually happen and by then it’s too late. During pregnancy, however, it’s a different story. We know we’re going to get larger and we know it’s going to last 9 months. That makes it a lot easier to follow these easy steps.
OK, this obviously isn’t a step you can take against stretch marks. It is, however, the most determining factor on whether or not you are going to get stretch marks. Some people just have naturally more elastic skin than others. People with drier skin tend to get more stretch marks but this is not always the rule. It’s not so much about dry and oily as it is about elasticity and regeneration capacity. Look at your mother for clues on which type are you. But even that is not a sure-fire tell.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t’ really matter what type of skin you have. If your skin is very elastic it’s still not worth it to just rely on this fact and if your skin is quite brittle that is still not a sure stretch mark sentence.
So let’s go over the actual steps that help either minimise or just avoid them altogether.
2. Drink water
Hydration is very important for skin renewal. Both inside and out. If you’re battling stretch marks because of your pregnancy you need to be drinking a lot of water anyways. This is just another compelling reason to really try and drink water throughout the day. If you’re a coffee or black tea lover you need to get some extra liquids on top of your daily dose since those drinks are diuretics and thus don’t add to your daily count. They instead subtract from it. Also, it’s not really helpful if you make yourself drink 8 glasses of water in the morning obsessively and then forget about it for the rest of the day. Drink consistently.
Moving on to outside hydration.
Hydrating from inside is probably not going to cut it by itself. You will need to moisturize your skin with something like a cream in order to prevent stretch marks. I have a few more specific suggestions though:
- use an oil instead of a cream
- apply it once or twice per day
- use more or apply more often if it’s summer and your skin is exposed to the sun, if it’s winter and heating is making the air dryer or after a hot shower
- if this is pregnancy related skin care, do not stop after delivery
Let me elaborate.
Use an oil instead of a cream
While creams can be really good and body butters even better, oils are the top choice for seriously parched skin. My oil of choice is the Natural Caring Oil by Eucerin. It’s mainly made from sunflower seed oil, jojoba oil, and almond oil. The oils and its high vitamin E contents not only help with dryness but help with skin elasticity and resilience helping it stretch as much as it needs to without getting damaged.
Apply it once or twice per day
I started using the oil every night before going to sleep as soon as I started showing. When I got to about 6 months I started doing the same in the morning as well. During my morning routine, I only apply the oil to my belly. In the evening, however, I also use it on my breasts and thighs, particularly on their back. This is where I tend to gain most of the weight so even though they don’t grow to the size of a pregnant belly I still want nice legs when I eventually lose the extra weight. And while it’s highly unlikely that you will get stretch marks on your breasts, keeping the skin there soft and stretchy helps with sagging as well. So yes, belly, breasts, bottom. If you gain weight somewhere else, amend the list accordingly.
I find two times per day is enough for most people but if you have extra dry skin or if it’s exposed to drying agents such as the sun, salt, heating and the likes, repeat as much as you feel it’s needed. For example, do it after every hot shower and after every trip to the beach.
Do not stop after delivery
The most common mistake people make is that they stop caring for their skin too early. Stretch marks are not only caused by stretching, the also happen while the skin is shrinking. So don’t just stop after delivery. I know it’s difficult with a new baby to care for but taking those 2 minutes before bed will make all the difference. It’s only a few weeks after you reach your “default size” that it’s time to stop. If you want to, obviously.
So be patient with your skin, give it the time it needs to adapt and help it as much as you can. These are the only things you need for a nice, soft smooth body even after huge life changes.