If you’ve got skin (which we are pretty sure you do) the chances of having stretch marks are, well, just about guaranteed. Whether it be pregnancy, growth spurts or general weight fluctuations, you’ll start to see these white (or red or purple), squiggly and sometimes indented lines appearing typically on your thighs, hips or breasts.
And while we are here to tell you there is next to no point stressing about these unavoidable markings, there are a few ways you can reduce the severity of them.
So for everything you’ve ever wondered about your stretch marks, from the benefits of hydration to the role our age plays (you’ll be pleased to know this is one kind of skin line that actually decreases as we get older), Bio-Oil’s General Manager Tracy Symons-Murdoch answers all our burning questions.
What are stretch marks?
Stretch marks occur when your skin can’t keep up with your body’s movement (or expansion). During pregnancy, the body (particularly the belly) grows rapidly and the skin has insufficient time to adjust which leads to internal tears in the skin tissue. “When these tears repair themselves they form the scars that we know as stretch marks,” Tracy explains.
What causes stretch marks?
Not all stretch mark cases are created equally. Some are far more visible than others, and in rare cases, some women never get any at all. This can be due to factors such as our skin type, age, family history and weight.
For example, according to Tracy, women with darker skin tones are more prone to stretch marks than lighter-skinned women. “Interestingly, it has been found that as you get older, you are less likely to develop stretch marks,” Tracy adds. If your mother developed stretch marks, it’s also more likely you will too (thanks a lot mum!). Finally, since stretch marks depend on the extent to which the skin expands, “excessive weight gain can exacerbate their formation”.
How to prevent stretch marks
Tracy tells us the best way to prevent stretch marks, particularly in pregnancy, is to ensure you care for your skin’s hydration. She explains, “Collagen and elastin fibres in the skin are necessary to keep rapidly growing skin taut, and the stronger they are, the less likely they are to break and leave resulting stretch marks.” So, it makes sense to use skin care products and eat foods rich in vitamin E and C, zinc and silica, which all help to form collagen. Tracy also recommends keeping your body hydrated by drinking the recommended two litres of water per day.
bh recommends: Rodan + Fields Active Hydration Body Replenish, Essano Rosehip Intensive Hydrating Body Lotion, Paula’s Choice Retinol Skin Smoothing Body Treatment, Arbonne Intelligence Genius Booster Serum For Body.
How to treat existing stretch marks
If you start to notice stretch marks forming, fear not! There are loads of products that help to treat, reduce and ultimately get rid of stretch marks. And some, like Bio-Oil, are even totally safe to use during pregnancy. Always check with your doctor if you’re unsure about using any products while you’re pregnant.
Here are our top picks for products to help you say goodbye to those pesky stretch marks.
Main image credit: Getty
What are your best tips for preventing stretch marks?