Nothing like summer to make you painfully aware of all your stretch marks—and in my case, ones I didn’t even know I had. Those pesky marks aren’t anything to be ashamed of, though. In fact, most of us have them.
Even teens and tweens—including boys—get them during growth spurts, as do body builders when they bulk up too quickly), and they’re a completely normal phenomenon caused by the stress of the skin’s stretching, which damages proteins in the skin and causes those unsightly marks. Like scars, they often start out as a purplish-blue color and eventually fade to approximately the same color of your skin, but retain their raised texture.
Stretch marks can be caused by pregnancy, weight gain, hormonal imbalances, steroid-based medications, as well as the completely normal process of growing. For many people, especially women, they’re just a part of life unless you invest in spendy creams or laser treatments. But here are 7 natural ways to reduce their appearance and to prevent new ones from forming.
7 Natural Stretch Mark Remedies
Note: If you’re pregnant and looking to minimize stretch marks, make sure to check with your healthcare practitioner before taking or applying anything for them!
1. Get your stress under control
Cortisol, a hormone produced by your adrenal glands when you’re stressed, not only contributes to weight gain and other health problems, it makes you predisposed to stretch marks. Yet another reason to relax, pick your battles and carve out some stress-relief time (whether it’s through walking, yoga, meditation, or a pampering beauty treatment) every single day.
2. Dry brushing
Brushing your skin with a dry brush every day can help improve your circulation and digestion, and help reduce the appearance of—and minimize new—stretch marks and cellulite. Here’s a tutorial to get you started!
3. Coconut Oil
You already know that we use coconut oil for pretty much everything, but it’s super helpful on stretch marks, too. Simply rub it right on your belly, legs or wherever else they appear.
4. Cocoa Butter
Like coconut oil, cocoa butter has long been used as a DIY stretch mark treatment. It’s the basis of a lot of commercial stretch mark remedies. Try these DIY Body Butter Bars, which also help treat cellulite.
5. Castor Oil
Heated castor oil packs are a great regular practice to get into. They help regulate your digestion, make periods easier and more predictable, detox your liver and, when applied to a stretch mark-laden area like your abdomen, help smooth the skin. To treat stretch marks, a 15-20 minute session a few times a week should do it. Here’s a tutorial for doing one—please note that you should not do a castor oil pack if you’re pregnant, think you might be pregnant, or are currently menstruating!
6. Aloe Vera
Aloe is famous for its ability to heal skin, and stretch marks are no exception! The key is to catch and treat them with aloe right when they appear, and to keep up the regimen every day. Adapt this Aloe Vera Face Pack recipe to work as a stretch mark treatment by reducing the amount of lemon to 2 tablespoons, and adding a tablespoon of almond (or olive) oil and the liquid from a vitamin E capsule. (Almond oil, olive oil, vitamin E and lemon are all helpful for stretch marks, too.)
7. Egg Whites
The theory is that the proteins and collagen in egg whites can help your skin become more elastic and bounce back from stretch marks. Try this Egg White Face Lift Mask (like the aloe treatment, feel free to add an oil to make it thicker) on your stretch marks every day for a couple weeks and see if they start to disappear!
What’s your go-to remedy for stretch marks?
Photos by Ana Stanciu