What are stretch marks?
You’ve probably heard the term stretch mark before and, you may even have a few. So what are stretch marks anyway? Stretch marks, or striae distensae, are basically skin scars. They appear as smooth lines on areas of your skin. According to Medical News Today, stretch marks are long, narrow streaks, or lines that develop on the skin. Stretch marks are extremely common and anyone can get them. Many times, women get them more often than men, though. Stretch marks can commonly be seen on your thighs, tummy, hips, or breasts. When they first become visible, stretch marks can be slightly red or purple. Then, they fade to pale, white lines.
What causes stretch marks?
Your skin has three main layers: the outer layer, the middle layer, and the deepest layer. Stretch marks develop in the middle layer when your skin’s tissue is stretched beyond its limits to quickly. This causes the middle layer to tear, allowing the deepest layer to show through. Stretch marks are essentially scarring of the skin. This scarring happens when a sudden stretching of the skin occurs. This can happen during pregnancy, puberty, obesity, rapid weight gain, and even weightlifting.
Approximately 50 percent to 75 percent of women will get at least some stretch marks during pregnancy, according to the Women’s Health Care Topics website. During pregnancy, many women see stretch marks around 25 weeks. Stretch marks appear on the abdomen as the baby grows and sometimes occur in the skin covering the thighs and breasts. However, not all women get stretch marks. It depends on your skin type, age, and genetics. The good news is, there are things you do that can prevent stretch marks from happening.
How do you not get stretch marks during pregnancy?
Every pregnant woman dreads the thought of getting stretch marks during pregnancy. Some say you either get them or you don’t. While this may be true, there are some things you can do to prevent stretch marks. The key is to start early in your pregnancy.
Eat a healthy diet
Since beauty starts from the inside out, it’s important to eat a healthy diet full of vitamins that improve your skins elasticity. Foods like spinach, blueberries, and strawberries are rich in antioxidants, which protect and nourish your skin. Nuts, seeds, avocados, and broccoli will help protect your skin while carrots, mango, and squash will repair your skin tissue.
Not only is it important to eat healthy, but it’s also important to stay hydrated. If you’re hydrated, your skin is hydrated too. The key is to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day. This will keep your skin from drying out and causing more stretch marks.
Because stretch marks occur with rapid weight gain, it’s important to exercise throughout your pregnancy. Exercising will prevent you from gaining too much weight, too quickly.
Moisturize with a stretch cream or oil
Using a cream or oil rich will not only hydrate your skin but it will also prevent itching. In fact, if you notice areas that are itchy, this means your skin is being stretched. So, it’s especially important to apply stretch mark cream in these areas.
When should I start to use stretch mark cream?
How soon you start stretch mark cream is up to you, but starting it earlier rather than later in your pregnancy can help. Now, just to be clear, stretch mark cream won’t prevent stretch marks. But they will alleviate any burning or itching you experience. Stretch mark cream will also keep your skin smooth, hydrated, and soft. Which is always a good thing in our opinion. Many women continue to use stretch mark cream after their pregnancy as well. This can help the stretch marks fade over time.
Is it safe to use stretch mark cream during pregnancy?
We can’t promise that every stretch cream is safe during pregnancy. However, since many pregnancy women get stretch marks, most creams are made with them in mind. You definitely want to stay away from products with Retin-A and other topical retinoids (which are prescription creams), as well as laser skin treatments. Other harmful ingredients include: butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben. Basically, if it has the word ‘paraben’ in it, it’s extremely carcinogenetic. These types of ingredients can cause developmental and reproductive toxicity. If you’re unsure about a product’s label, use the Think Dirty app. It’s a pregnant woman’s BFF. This app allows you to look up a beauty product’s rating (0 being the most safe and 10 being extremely toxic). A stretch cream to stay away from: Pytomer Seatonic Stretch Mark Reducing Cream. This product is a 10 on Think Dirty. The safest stretch mark product is the Weleda Pregnancy Body Oil which comes in at a zero.
What is the best cream for stretch marks?
Burt's Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter is a pregnancy stretch cream that is fragrance, phthalate, and paraben free. It’s a thick body butter that really smooths the skin.
You’ll find good-for-your-skin ingredients take up plenty of space in this stretch mark cream – specifically cocoa, shea, and jojoba butters. There’s also plenty of vitamin E. What you won’t find are phthalates, parabens, petrolatum, or SLS. This is a thick, fragrance-free body butter. But, you should know that fragrance-free doesn’t mean it’s totally unscented. With the heightened sense of smell that many pregnant women experience, it can be a little too much. The best news is, it’s safe for pregnant women. This cream is formulated for pregnant women, though it will need to be wiped off breasts before feeding when used by nursing women. As for the cost, you should expect to pay about $12 for 6.6 ounces. That works out to a little less than $2 per ounce. As far as body butters and stretch creams go, that’s really very good.
Another highly rated stretch mark product is the Bio-Oil Multiuse Skincare Oil. This skin oil has won hundreds of awards and is a best seller across the globe. It works on all sorts of stretch marks and scars and offers good value for the money. Given enough time, this hypoallergenic oil will diminish older scars and help prevent new ones by keeping skin smooth and supple. It’s fantastic for post-op healing (as long as you don’t apply it to broken skin) and it’s dermatologist-tested. And, almost surprisingly, it absorbs quickly into skin without a greasy or oily residue.
You’ll find plenty of vitamin E along with the PerCellin oil. This stretch mark oil has a runny consistency with a lovely “oil” fragrance to it. The cost is a whopping $28 for a 6.7 ounce bottle. Luckily, you will usually pay less – somewhere between $12 and $18. If you pay roughly $15, then the price per ounce is around $2.25. That’s not bad at all.
What is the best all natural stretch mark cream?
Weleda Pregnancy Body Oil for Stretch Marks is an incredible stretch mark oil that has an enticing smell and features all natural ingredients. It’s super moisturizing and wonderful to continue using after pregnancy. The manufacturer suggests using it several times a day, but many women find that once a day is enough. And, most users report that it works incredibly well. Besides being dermatologist tested (and not on animals), it doesn’t seem to negatively affect sensitive skins. Above all, we love that it absorbs quickly and well, leaving your skin soft and your clothes safe.
Inside, you’ll find a wealth of 100% natural ingredients, including: almond, jojoba, and wheat germ oils. There’s also a firming arnica extract. This is a fast-running oil that smells of orange blossoms and roses. As a bonus, it’s safe to use during pregnancy. It can be used all the way through breastfeeding. The MSRP is $18 for a 3.4 ounce bottle. That works out to somewhere over $5.25 per ounce. That is steep, but you don’t need to use that much in a go. And, in case you’re wondering, it is available through Amazon’s subscribe and save program.