Stretch marks occur when the body grows faster than the skin can keep up with such as with rapid weight gain and pregnancy. The dermis layer of the skin, along with the second layer as well as the collagen and elastin fibers can’t hold together resulting in tears and injury to the skin. They are reddish or purple in color, but after pregnancy and when the skin is no longer expanding, they gradually will fade to white or a light gray. Stretch marks are essentially scars that have formed from the inside out and are impossible to get rid of once they have formed.In pregnant women, they most often start to appear after month six or seven on the belly, breasts and buttocks. With rapid weight gain not related to pregnancy, they can occur at any time but most stretch marks seem to reveal themselves during the teenage years. The reason for this is when you are younger; the collagen is much stronger and tighter so there is more trauma and inflammation when the skin is stretched. Despite what some sales people or other skin professionals may try to sell you, I have not seen anything truly effective for getting rid of them, unfortunately. The only real control you have is in preventing them from appearing or at the very least, getting worse once they do appear.
How can I prevent stretch marks?
As for prevention, there is some data that shows that when women who applied cream on a regular basis compared to a placebo group got far fewer stretch marks. The idea is that when the skin is consistently moist and the lipid barrier is intact, it can protect itself from injury and more able to deal with trauma such as expanding skin. But as an esthetician working with skin for the last 25+ years, I know that not all creams will do the trick as many are poorly formulated and don’t use the right ingredients to repair the lipid moisture barrier and prevent transepidermal water loss. There have been many breakthroughs in the science of moisture retention and it all comes down to choosing the right ingredients.
To truly strengthen the skin and deeply moisturize, look for the following emollient barrier-repair ingredients when choosing a moisturizer or oil to use on the skin.
Bois De Rose Oil
Evening Primrose Oil
Sweet Almond Oil
Sesame Seed Oil
These ingredients used individually or blended together may strengthen the skin to prevent stretch marks.
Pro Remedy Oil is a product that I recommend to all my pregnant clients as it’s formulated with a blend of 12 carefully selected oils that are proven to repair the moisture barrier most effectively. Another side effect of rapidly expanding skin is dryness and itchiness. When the skin stretches, it creates invisible cracks in the barrier that allow moisture to escape easily causing dryness and discomfort. This oil will also manage itchiness.
One of my celebrity clients, Eva Amurri Martino (daughter of Oscar-winning actress, Susan Sarandon) used it all throughout her recent pregnancy and swears by it. She said on Instagram here, “Obsessed with this stuff! The Pro Remedy Oil got me through my pregnancy with ZERO stretch marks. The fact that all the ingredients were super safe for me and baby made it even better–and I love the smell!”
How often do I apply a cream or oil?
At least three times a day, apply a generous amount of skin cream or oil and let absorb. If applying to a pregnant stomach, massage it in clockwise motions to follow the digestive tract. For extra benefit to keep skin smooth and strong, use a loofah or this Exfoliating Body Cloth with a mild, sulfate-free shower gel to exfoliate and remove surface dryness. This will ensure the treatment oil or cream can effectively absorb deep within the layers of the skin. Using Pure Radiance Mask is also very effective when used after exfoliating the skin. You can let it soak in (don’t rinse) and leave on overnight.
So my best advice is to keep the skin moist obsessively!
Note: As mentioned above, younger skins will be more likely to get stretch marks so getting pregnant later in life may work in your favor when it comes to preventing these from appearing.
Read: Pregnancy Skin Tips
Need expert advice from a licensed esthetician? Schedule a virtual consultation to get customized advice in person, over the phone or online via Skype or FaceTime.
For more expert advice check out the blog. Also sign up for our skin tip e-newsletter, follow Renée Rouleau on Twitter and Instagram and join the discussion on our Facebook page. You’ll be your own skin care expert in no time. Get the #ReneeRouleauGlow!
Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”