There is nothing like summer to make you painfully aware of all your stretch marks—and in my case, some that 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.
Whenever the skin is stretched too quickly before it has the ability to adjust, stretch marks occur. They are often seen during the teenage years in boys on their lower back, girls on their hips, bodybuilders where muscles grow quickly, and in pregnant women on their hips and stomach.
They are a completely normal phenomenon caused by damage to the elastic fibers in the skin. Like scars, they are initially inflamed are reddish-purple but eventually fade to slightly whiter than your skin with a subtle 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 that are accessible to everyone to reduce their appearance and to prevent new ones from forming.
8 At-Home 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 cell renewal, 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. There are many excellent coconut oil moisturizers to use daily when exiting the shower (we like Epicuren).
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!
8. Retinoid-based body lotions
Using retinoid-based body lotions 2-3 times a week can also help treat and prevent stretch marks. In addition to hydrating skin, lotions with retinol help with uneven skin tone, fade scars and dark spots and even stretch marks.
What’s your go-to remedy for stretch marks?
This post was medically reviewed by Dr. Jennifer Haley, a board-certified dermatologist with extensive experience in medical, cosmetic and surgical dermatology. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical review board here. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Photos by Ana Stanciu34