Sorry, stretch marks, when you pop up, no one is thrilled to see you. This common skin condition is usually unwelcome, and depending on the severity, can be unsightly. With so many myths out there about stretch marks, we’re here to break down the facts and answer the most frequently asked questions, including:
No, stretch marks don’t necessarily go away when you lose weight. In fact, weight loss is one common cause of stretch marks, as is weight gain. When you lose weight or gain weight, your skin responds by quickly shrinking or stretching. When this happens, the elastin and collagen in your skin can rupture, resulting in stretch marks.
There is no immediate cure-all to remove stretch marks. Like scars, they do fade with time, and some treatments, such as in-office procedures at your dermatologist’s office or topical treatments at home, can help make them look less noticeable.
You can visit your dermatologist to see if they would recommend in-office procedures such as ultrasound, radiofrequency, chemical peels, laser therapy, microneedling or microdermabrasion to improve the appearance of your stretch marks. “In-office treatments clearly work somewhat better than topical treatments, as would be expected, but they aren't a miracle either,” says board-certified dermatologist and LovelySkin CEO Dr. Schlessinger. “No one treatment is perfect, but they can build together to allow for the best resolution possible. In general, though, stretch marks aren't going to disappear completely, and it will take quite a bit of time to get them to improve. I do recommend starting topicals as soon as possible, however, in order to gain the edge of time against these challenging problems.”
As for topical treatments, hyaluronic acid and retinoids such as tretinoin have been shown to improve the appearance of stretch marks in past studies. Moisturizing oils or brightening creams may also help stretch marks look less obvious, or you can try makeup formulated specifically to cover stretch marks.
In a two-month trial, participants who used this body oil reported they noticed 23% fewer stretch marks, and 97% said their skin looked firmer. Active ingredients include perilla oil to repair damaged skin and chlorella oil to strengthen the skin’s structure. It also contains glasswort oil, which boosts circulation and the storage of water in skin cells, making skin appear plumper.
Powered by hyaluronic acid and proprietary ingredient blends (Collagex-CE complex and NIA-114, a form of vitamin B3), this concentrated treatment was created to treat wrinkles as well as stretch marks. That means you can apply it to your face as an anti-aging treatment and also massage it onto your body in places where stretch marks appear. After four weeks of use, dermal evaluations showed that stretch marks had faded in appearance.
This smoothing lotion contains retinol to encourage cell renewal and hyaluronic acid to hydrate, resulting in smoother, plumper skin that may make your stretch marks look less noticeable. It also contains a blend of caffeine, resveratrol and polyphenols from green tea, which team up to reduce the appearance of cellulite.
Because glycolic acid stimulates collagen production, you might see improvement in your stretch marks with regular use of this exfoliating body lotion. A 17.5% concentration of glycolic acid clears away dead skin cells, making skin appear smoother and softer. It also works well to heal dry patches such as elbows and knees, keratosis pilaris and body acne.
This treatment can be used on scarring of any type, from acne marks on your face to stretch marks on your body. A combination of peptides and niacinamide plus vitamins B5, C and E work together to improve circulation and help scars look less noticeable.
Coverage superhero Dermablend can cover even the most colorful tattoos, so it can definitely do the job to conceal stretch marks. Available in a variety of shades to match a range of skin tones, this buildable body makeup also protects with SPF 25 from chemical sun protection ingredients octisalate and octocrylene.
Read more about how you can reduce scars from acne, surgery and more on our blog post about scar solutions.