It’s a sad truth that many of us fall victim to the unpleasantness of stretch marks, which can knock our self-confidence down a notch or two. They can be disfiguring, and cause us emotional and psychological distress.
The majority of us accept that it’s just one of those things we can’t change, and we live our lives covering up the affected areas or feeling excessively self-conscious about them. I’ll let you in on a secret: you can get rid of stretch marks.
In this ultimate guide, you will find an abundance of ideas to choose from in your bid to get rid of stretch marks. It includes everything from the most popular products on the market, the most effective natural remedies, the best treatments and the most useful when it comes to preventing stretch marks from forming.
What are stretch marks?
Knowing a little bit about the basics of how stretch marks are formed will help you to understand more about how to treat them.
The skin has three layers: the epidermis (the outer layer); the dermis (the middle layer) and the subcutaneous or hypodermis (the deepest layer).
Stretch marks form in the dermis when the connective tissue is overextended beyond the limits of its own elasticity. This is due to the rapid expansion or contraction of the skin from sudden growth or weight gain.
The sudden stretching causes the dermis to tear, and the deeper layers of the skin show through, forming stretch marks.
Stretch marks present themselves as narrow streaks or lines on the skin’s surface, and are red or purple in color (depending on your skin tone).
Once they fade they tend to leave silvery pale marks on the skin. They look like this because the blood vessels contract, and the pale fat beneath the skin’s surface becomes visible.
The areas of the body that are most likely to be affected are the: abdomen, breasts, buttocks, flank, hips and thighs. Moreover, the commonly form during pregnancy, weight gain or sudden weight loss and during puberty.
Best products for stretch marks
1. TriLastin-SR Maximum Strength Stretch Mark Cream
This formula first gained popularity after it was given the seal of approval by supermodel Tyra Banks. It is an exceptional formula that targets the top layer of skin, while it works down into the deep layers to eradicate stretch marks and prevent further marks.
The unique blend of ingredients consists of: essential amino acids, which encourage collagen production; soy to prevent future marks from forming, and vitamin E to keep the skin looking and feeling healthy. It gets bonus points for working on old and new marks.
2. Revitol Stretch Mark Cream
Revitol’s Stretch Mark Cream promises to help prevent stretch marks from forming and reduces the appearance of existing marks. It contains a powerful mix of ingredients that work with the body to encourage collagen production. This, in turn, fades the appearance of existing stretch marks until they are hardly visible.
The majority of users of this cream love the natural ingredients, which include: vitamin E and grapefruit seed extract to assist in strengthening collagen; vitamin D3 to promote the dermal cell production, and aloe vera oil to assist in fading the stretch marks.
3. Skinception Intensive Stretch Mark Therapy
This wonder product claims that you’ll see results within two months. If you have stretch marks, this will sound like music to your ears.
The active ingredients in Skinception are: Regestril, which reduces the depth of the stretch marks, making them less visible; Darutoside, which reduces the length of the marks; Pro-Sveltyl to promote collagen production, and Pro-Coll-One+, which works to smooth the skin’s surface. With its goal to promote collagen and elastin production, this cream should restore you skin’s health.
4. Dermology Stretch Mark Prevention Cream
Dermology’s Stretch Mark Prevention Cream seeks to treat the skin in a way that prevents stretch marks from forming. The focus is on improving the skin’s elasticity.
This cream is another product with natural ingredients and contains: vitamin A to reduce fine lines; aloe vera to rejuvenate and heal; vitamin E to reduce the damage and soften the skin, and squalene oil, which works to prevent future marks from forming.
5. Remescar Silicone Scar Cream
This cream contains silicone, which creates a barrier over the stretch marks. This barrier keeps the area hydrated and allows the marks to fade. Because of how it works, the skin becomes supple, and the appearance improves immediately with the smoothing effect this cream has.
6. Novartis Trofolastin Anti-Stretch
This is the result of a controlled scientific study in Spain by Novartis. Daily application of Trofolastin has been shown to prevent and successfully reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
7. CeraVe Intensive Stretch Mark Cream
What could be more trusted that a cream developed by dermatologists? CeraVe Intensive Stretch Marks Cream not only minimizes the appearance of stretch marks, but helps to repair and restore the skin's protective barrier. This immediately improves the skin’s health, helping to prevent new stretch marks from forming.
8. Mederma Stretch Marks Therapy
You’ll definitely want to take this little gem up on its offer to improve your stretch marks within 12 weeks. With active ingredients centella and hyaluronic acid to soften skin and aid elasticity, this cream is clinically proven to help prevent and reduce stretchmarks when used daily.
9. Re-Gen Cream
How about glowing skin with a reduction of your stretch marks? This cream has a vitamin enriched formula that moisturizes and is effective on silvery stretch marks and red scars. It locks in moisture and fades marks over time.
10. Aveeno Moisturising Cream
Aveeno is a popular brand, and useful for those who suffer with dry skin. This cream contains colloidal oatmeal, which not only nourishes dry skin, but also works wonders in preventing and fading stretch marks.
11. Aleva Naturals Stretch Mark Cream
Organic shea butter, olive oil and pumpkin seed extracts make up this natural stretch mark cream. This cream boasts a natural formula that will fade your stretch marks and smooth your skin.
12. Pommade Divine Nature’s Remedy Balm
This balm is said to have been created by the Royal Family’s chemist more than 200 years ago. That should definitely wow you! Used by Queen Victoria and A-listers like Sienna Miller, this balm will fade your stretch marks with its key ingredient: refined shea butter.
With its advanced formula that contains PurCellin Oil, Bio-Oil is highly effective in helping to improve the appearance of existing stretch marks. It also increases the elasticity of the skin and prevents new marks from forming.
14. TEN Stretch Mark Cream
Almonds, the active ingredient in this lovely produce, are great in so many ways: their oil is good and they’re good to eat. Made with sweet almond oil, this cream is great for the reduction and prevention of stretch marks. Sweet almond oil is rich in vitamin E and minerals such as magnesium, which are all nourishing for the skin. The cream also contains shea butter, which is rich in antioxidants, and avocado oil, which moisturizes your skin beautifully.
15. StriVectin-SD Intensive Concentrate for Stretch Marks & Wrinkles
When it comes to taking the lead in stretch mark removal, StriVectin has its name written all over it. This cream promises to improve the appearance of both stretch marks and wrinkles in as little as two weeks of daily use! It does state, though—on the side of caution—that some marks may take around eight weeks to show improvement. Whether it’s two weeks or eight, both sound like amazing options, especially if you are constantly aware of your marks and just want them to go away.
NIA-114 and collagen-building peptides are the active ingredients in this product. NIA-114 came about during 35 years of clinical research. It works by clinically strengthening and rebuilding the skin’s barrier. It is paraben-free as well as free from mineral oil, petroleum, artificial colors and dyes.
This stretch mark removal product is clinically proven to work, so rest assured that if you do get this, you will see results.
16. Sieva Skincare Stretch Mark & Scar Removal Cream
This cream contains a special skin repair complex that helps to improve your skin’s natural healing process. It includes power ingredients such as shea butter, cocoa butter, olive oil, jojoba oil and rosehip seed oil. This cream works on both new and old stretch marks.
17. Maroc100 Rose Hydration Stretch Mark Cream
This cream contains the best natural and organic ingredients that are known for reducing the appearance of stretch marks. Imagine getting the hydration from argan oil and rich shea butter, having your skin soothed by exotic Japanese green tea extract and blue green algae that is fantastic for optimizing skin cell turnover.
Pregnancy and Post-Natal Specific Creams
These creams have been specifically designed with the pregnant and post-natal in mind. The majority are aimed at preventing stretch marks and treating new marks that form as the skin stretches.
1. Mustela Double Action Cream
This cream makes some bold promises, which they are definitely entitled to following clinical trials where 96% of expectant mothers reported that they didn't develop stretch marks during their pregnancy after using this cream. That number of people is exceptional. The cream contains natural ingredients that will help to keep the skin elastic; it also promotes cell renewal and regeneration of the skin.
2. Mama Mio Tummy Oil
Made with omegas 3, 6 and 9, this oil for moms-to-be can be used all over your body to give full coverage and protection against stretch marks. It is also recommended to use when your stomach starts shrinking back after pregnancy.
3. Dream Belly Stretch Mark Cream for Pregnancy
This is specifically designed for those who are pregnant or post-natal. It contains key ingredients like aloe vera, grapeseed extract, vitamin E, rosehip oil and a lovely blend of natural butters and oils.
4. Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Tummy Butter for Stretch Marks
This product has been around forever, and has been recommended from one generation to the next. It’s probably the first product people think of when they want a cream for stretch marks. Dermatologist-tested, and also tested in clinical settings, it is great for treating stretch marks during and after pregnancy. The active ingredients are vitamin E, collagen and elastin. It has the added bonus of being good for those with sensitive skin.
5. Weleda Pregnancy Body Oil
This is a lightweight oil is that can be used on the stomach, thighs, buttocks and breasts. It is great for preventing stretch marks, but it can also improve existing stretch marks.
Essentially, it’s a good product for minor stretch marks. The active ingredients include sweet almond oil, jojoba oil and arnica. It is recommended to apply this product three times a day. It is also safe to use from the beginning of your pregnancy up to three months before you have your baby.
6. Neal's Yard Mother's Massage Oil
Made with soya and almond, this formula is truly amazing to boost your skin’s elasticity. I can vouch for this cream personally, and can tell you that it actually removed my old scars (which were actually unsightly) as well as my new scars. It also helped to tighten loose skin I had around the affected areas. It has a rich consistency that immediately disappears into the skin. It’s completely paraben-free and contains natural oils to help tone the skin and prevent stretch marks from forming.
SilDerm is a skin protecting oil that is formulated especially for expectant mothers. It has scientifically proven results that it can significantly reduce the formation of stretch marks.
Natural Remedies for Removing Stretch Marks
Here are some trusted natural remedies that have been used to remove stretch marks.
Good to sweeten your tea and even better for exfoliating, sugar can remove dead skin and minimize the appearance of stretch marks on your body.
Sugar is one of the most widely known remedies for getting rid of stretch marks. It contains a natural source of glycolic acid, which is an alpha hydroxic acid that encourages the generation of younger and fresher looking skin. The small particles in sugar exfoliate the skin and remove dead skin cells.
Here’s how to use it:
- Place a heaped tablespoon of sugar in a small bowl.
- Squeeze juice from one lemon and 1 tablespoon of almond oil into the bowl.
Mix together for 5 minutes and apply to the affected area of your skin. Rinse off with warm water and apply moisturizer.
2. Aloe Vera
This is a wonder plant known, for decades, to remedy many skin problems. With its cooling and healing components, aloe vera is effective at minimizing the appearance of stretch marks.
Just get the plant itself and scrape out the sap. Apply and leave on the skin for about 30 minutes to an hour. Rinse with lukewarm water.
3. Potato Juice
Great for chips/fries, and good for the skin. Potatoes are full of minerals and vitamins that enhance the growth and repair of skin cells. Because of this, they are great for eliminating stretch marks. All you need to do is cut a potato into thick slices and rub it on your skin for 5-10 minutes. You can also juice the potato, and apply the juice to the marks with cotton wool. When the juice dries, leave it on for a few more minutes before rinsing off with lukewarm water.
4. Olive Oil
Olive oil has been a trusted oil for centuries for a number of uses. It’s a great natural moisturizer and the nutrients and antioxidants are great for stretch marks, too. There are four major antioxidants in olive oil that enable it to act as a cleanser, moisturizer and protector for the skin. These antioxidants include vitamin E, which helps to neutralize the effect of free radicals that can damage collagen, and vitamin A, which thickens and encourages blood flow to the surface of the skin and the dermis.
Daily use as a moisturizer will help to reduce the appearance of the stretch marks. Apply it by warming the olive oil between your hands and then massaging it into the affected areas.
5. Castor Oil
Apart from being a good remedy for acne, sun burn, dry skin, warts, boils and athlete’s foot among many others, castor oil is a fantastic natural oil that can reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Castor oil stimulates collagen and elastin production. You can simply massage the oil into your skin daily for excellent results.
Another trick is to massage a thick layer of castor oil onto the stretch marks and wrap the area with plastic like cling film. Once you’re wrapped up, apply a hot water bottle for 20 minutes. Be sure that the hot water bottle is not too hot, but just hot enough to warm the area. You don’t want to burn yourself.
6. Coconut Oil
This wonder oil has the ability to nourish the skin. By being full of saturated fatty acids, it protects the skin from harmful free radical damage. To treat stretch marks, apply by massaging it into the skin until it is absorbed. You can also mix it with other oils, like castor oil and olive oil, for your own special power oil blend.
The leaves of alfalfa are well-known for their rich supply of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, which builds and repairs tissue. For stretch marks, this is great news.
To use this wonder plant, mix about a teaspoon of alfalfa powder with one teaspoon of chamomile oil. Mix to create a paste, and massage into the skin 2-3 times a day.
8. Lemon Juice
Lemon juice is well-known for removing stretch marks. It is full of alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) and vitamin C. Vitamin C promotes the production of collagen, which helps with the growth of cells and blood vessels, and works to maintain the firmness, elasticity and strength of the skin.
To use, you simply juice a few lemons and massage the juice onto your skin. Wash the area with warm water and apply moisturizer.
9. Egg Whites
You might think that this sounds strange, but it’s really not. Egg whites can be great at minimizing the appearance of any marks that ruin the look of your skin. The healing properties of egg whites stem from the abundance of amino acids and proteins within them that repair skin cells powerfully.
To prepare mix, two egg whites in a bowl and whip. Apply the mixture to the skin, and allow it to dry for at least 10 minutes, then rinse off your skin using lukewarm water. Apply daily for best results.
10. Rose Hip Oil
Rosehip oil is loved by many for all sorts of things. It’s heavily endorsed by celebrities like Miranda Kerr, and Kate Middleton uses it. too. It’s safe to say that if the duchess uses it, that definitely says a lot! Apart from everything else this oil does, its essential fatty acids and vitamins are perfect for fading stretch marks.
11. Cocoa- Shea Butter Homemade Cream
Cocoa butter and raw shea butter are superb natural butters with renowned properties that can reduce stretch marks. You can mix this together in a little jar in equal portions, and apply directly to the affected areas twice daily for optimum results.
Watch Ela Gale’s and Sonia Goyal’s YouTube videos to give you more ideas on how to put together your own mixture of natural remedies
Treatments for Stretch Mark Removal
Retin-A encourages collagen production. This helps the skin to stretch while avoiding tears. This product should not, however, be used if you are pregnant or nursing as it can possibly cause birth defects.
2. Glycolic Acid
When used on stretch marks, this can increase collagen production, making the skin more elastic. It has the same compounds as those used in some chemical skin peels. Glycolic acid is safe to put on your skin during pregnancy, but care must be taken to protect your skin when in the sun.
3. Combination of Glycolic Acid and Retin-A
When used individually, these two are great, but when used together, they are amazing, and can dramatically improve the appearance of stretch marks.
4. Laser Treatment
Laser therapies stimulate collagen production and elastin in the skin. Reportedly used by model Cindy Crawford and actresses like Halle Berry and Kate Beckinsale, laser treatment can work wonders for you.
Pulsed dye (vascular laser) lasers are generally used for new stretch marks. This treatment is best used as soon as the marks start to form. These would be marks that are red and have not turned silvery as yet. The treatments are normally carried out over three to six sessions and tend to be quite expensive depending on the clinic.
Fractional laser treatment (laser resurfacing) works best for older stretch marks. These tend to be the marks that have now formed indentations on the skin’s surface. The laser makes the surface of the skin smoother by aiming at the edges of where the stretch marks have formed. These tend to be carried out in up to three sessions and as like the pulsed dye laser quite costly. AMA skincare has a great video that shows the process.
5. Chemical Peels
Chemical peels are generally used to treat wrinkles, age spots and acne scars. They are also quite effective at stretch mark removal. The chemical solution for the peel is applied to the skin, which then removes the top layers of damaged, dead skin so that new skin cell production can be activated. The types of chemicals used can vary depending on the level of treatment that is required. As such, recovery periods can vary. A course of treatment may also be required to achieve the results desired. Getting a chemical peel may not remove the stretch marks completely, but it definitely fades them and the skin will look smoother, healthier and more youthful.
This type of treatment is carried out by using a device that blows crystals onto the skin. A fine layer of skin is removed with the application of the crystals. The result of this is gaining skin that is more elastic and smoother in appearance. The procedure is painless and requires little recovery time. A course of treatment is often required to achieve the results desired.
7. Blue Light Therapy
This is another form of treatment that is more commonly used for acne. However, blue light therapy can also be used to improve the appearance of stretch marks. The treatment involves applying a photosensitive gel to the skin. This is followed by exposure to bursts of light energy. Many patients who have had this treatment for stretch marks report improvement, particularly with new marks.
8. Surgical Stretch Mark Removal
This would hopefully be a last resort, but is nevertheless an option. Abdominoplasty, more commonly known as a tummy tuck, is the procedure used in this instance. It tightens the abdominal muscles and removes the excess skin in the mid- to lower abdominal region. This is specifically for the abdomen; currently, there is no other surgical procedure for stretch mark removal in other areas of the body that works in the way that abdominoplasty works.
Preventing Stretch Marks
This guide has given you a vast amount of information and has hopefully made you more knowledgeable on how to get rid of stretch marks. You’re spoilt for choice on the best creams to purchase, and there’s a good mix of natural remedies and treatment options.
As with most things, prevention is definitely better than the cure. So, here are some things to consider to help you prevent stretch marks from forming in the first place.
1. Moisturize your skin
Moisturizing is vital and can definitely keep those marks at bay as it keeps the skin supple and hydrated. It prevents the skin from becoming dry, and therefore weaker and prone to developing stretch marks.
Focus on target areas such as stomach, back, thighs and legs. Make sure you are also using an effective moisturizer. In ‘The Best Products for Stretch Marks’ section in this guide, there are some products that can be used to prevent stretch marks—especially if you are pregnant. We all know that this is a time that you’re likely to get stretch marks, so take care to minimize your chances of this happening (see The Pregnancy and Post-Natal Specific Products section).
Also, ensure that you are moisturizing at least twice a day—more if you can. The easiest times to remember this is in the morning and evening after your shower or bathe.
2. Use sunscreen
If you are going to be in the sun, apply additional sunscreen—particularly if you are pregnant.
3. Eat a nutrient enriched diet
Make sure you eat a diet that is nourishing for your skin and helps it to stay elastic. Here are some great food ideas to think about:
a. Foods that are Rich in Antioxidants: These will nourish and protect your skin. Eat plenty of spinach, blueberries, strawberries and other fresh fruits and vegetables.
b. Vitamin E Rich Foods: These will be good to protect the skin cell membranes. Some examples of food you can introduce into your diet are: nuts, seeds, avocados broccoli and collard greens.
c. Vitamin A Rich Foods: Carrots, sweet potatoes, mango, squash and red bell peppers are all great for repairing skin tissue.
d. Omegas 3: Foods rich in omega 3, like fish, fish oil, walnuts, eggs and oysters are responsible for keeping the cell membranes healthy.
4. Have more gelatine
Yes, gelatine. This promotes collagen production in the skin. Gelatine is actually another name for collagen. Having more collagen in your body is a great way to prevent stretch marks. You should be able to buy this in a supermarket. It is also available in powder form that you can add to gravies, soups, sauces and casseroles.
5. Stay hydrated
You’ll never believe how important it is to drink enough water. You’ll be further surprised to hear that drinking water can have a hand in preventing stretch marks. The importance of staying hydrated cannot be stressed enough.
Do your very best to keep your body hydrated—especially during pregnancy where there is an increased demand for hydration. Optimal elasticity occurs when your skin is hydrated. The daily recommendation is to have 8-12 glasses of water each day, but there’s nothing to stop you from having more water—especially on hot days or if you are in a hot country. In these instances, you would definitely need to consume more water.
Water not only detoxes the body but offers many other benefits, including: keeping your skin cells healthy, making your skin glow and look clearer and, for stretch marks, it will help to keep the skin remain supple enough to cope from the stress caused by stretching, such as that which occurs in pregnancy.
While these points all sound great, it can be difficult to make sure you get enough water on a daily basis, particularly if you have a busy lifestyle. Here are some tips to help you:
a. Think about making it a goal to drink 8 glasses of water a day. Try to think of a plan that can work around your daily schedule, so maybe have a glass when you wake up in the morning and some with your breakfast. Then, space out the other glasses around lunch and dinner. Carrying a water bottle is also a good idea. That way, you could sip it throughout the day and refill it.
b. Drink herbal teas. Herbal teas are caffeine free and will have a pleasant taste. Some will also help to detox too.
c. Include more watery fruits and vegetables. Eat fruits and vegetables like: cucumbers, fresh bell peppers, celery, watermelon, strawberries and honeydew.
6. Increase your vitamin C intake
Vitamin C is used by the body to produce collagen and to build cartilage. Vitamin C also reduces the impact of free radical damage. Free radicals can consume and wear down collagen and elastin. Having the best foods in your body to combat free radicals will be beneficial for your health and in preventing stretch marks from forming. Some examples of foods to include or increase your intake of are: red and green bell peppers, guava, kale, parsley, greens, turnips and broccoli.
Zinc is a natural trace mineral that assists in collagen production. It also has a high content of antioxidants. Having a zinc deficiency is one of the reasons that have been found to make you more prone to having stretch marks. You also most likely won’t be aware that you have a zinc deficiency unless you have done some sort of test to find this out. To ensure that you are getting enough zinc in your diet, include any of the following foods in your diet: chicken, lamb, beef, eggs, nuts, legumes and whole grains.
8. Practice dry brushing
Dry brushing exfoliates the skin and improves circulation. It has also been recommended as a preventative technique to stops stretch marks from forming in their tracks. To do this, get a natural fibres dry brush so that the brittles won’t be too stiff or rough on the skin. Brush the skin upwards, avoiding sensitive areas, and when you’re finished, you can shower to clear away the dead skin. Follow up with a moisturizer.
9. Don't use harsh chemicals on your skin
You will notice that the products ideas and natural remedies listed in this guide are all gentle and effective for the skin. Avoid products that contain sulphates and too many parabens.
These dry out your skin and minimize its elasticity. The products you want to pay attention to are things like your body wash and cleansers, scrubs and anything else that you put on your body. Choose products that are natural-based and will keep your skin hydrated to retain moisture.
How to get rid of stretch marks with exercise
Exercise can work wonders for your general health and well-being. It can also work on tightening the skin, which can minimize stretch marks and prevent them from forming. Here are some ideas you can try:
1. T Pushups
These are good for your chest and core. You start out in a standard pushup position so that your hands are placed under your shoulders.
You then hold the position in a plank for around three seconds. Twist your upper body towards the ceiling and raise your hand up in a straight line.
Keep your ankles together, and hold the position for a few seconds. Come back to the pushup position. Try to aim for about two sets of 15 reps on each side.
2. Lateral Leg Circles
This is great for the hips and thighs. Lateral leg circles can build up your muscles and tighten your skin. You extend one leg out, ensuring that you have it at a level where you are comfortable and not leaning over.
Slowly and gradually, make small circles with the lifted leg. Try to do about 10 forwards and 10 backwards on each leg. If it’s easier if you rest your hand on to the wall or on the back of a chair for extra support.
3. Single Leg Pelvic Thrust
Great for stretch marks on your butt. You do these by lying flat on a mat with your knees bent at about a 90-degree angle, keeping your feet flat on the floor.
Extend one leg about four inches off the floor, keeping your foot straight and lifting your hips up. It’s important to keep your upper back on the floor and not arched.
Hold this position for 3 seconds and then lower your hips. Repeat this exercise so you do two sets of 10 repetitions on one side, switching legs.
These are some of the best ways to rid yourself of the stretch marks that, until now, you may have thought to be irreversible.
Whether you choose to buy a pre-made product or you decide to use one of the natural remedies mentioned, you’re guaranteed to see an improvement in the visibility and severity of your stretch marks. So, what are you waiting for? Try one—or all—of these remedies and let us know how they work for you!