How to prevent and treat stretch marks


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. 

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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. 

bh recommends: Bio-Oil, Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter, Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Lotion for Stretch MarksSwisse BioActive Nature Oil and Biologi Bf Restore Face and Body Serum

Main image credit: Getty

What are your best tips for preventing stretch marks?

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Comments 39

  1. My best tips for preventing stretch marks are……..don’t have kids, and stay away from that yummy bakery!
    Unfortunately I think they are part of life. I use plenty of moisturisers and try to keep my skin otherwise healthy.

  2. thankfully I never got stretch marks – I put on 20kg with each baby (and lost it again after the birth each time) but even that didn’t give me them. Not sure why really but I do have an oily prone skin on my face and head.

  3. Fortunately I didn’t get stretch marks during my pregnancies but have sagging skin from getting older and at the moment going through an illnesses that I have had for Six months now. Has caused a massive weight loss as well, hence the sagging skin.
    But I am using Rosehip Oil and QV intensive Ceremide Cream.

  4. Nothing I used during my pregnancies stopped me from getting them on my belly. They have faded now but I don’t show my belly so don’t really care. I’m now a Tiger who earned my stripes! 🙂

  5. I never got stretch marks during either of my pregnancies, I have a few on my upper thighs that I think are from around puberty, they are not very visible and have faded quite a bit on their own.

  6. I’ve got a few stretch marks, and I honestly don’t care! I’ve had two kids, and I look after my skin as best as I can, but they are just a part of life and I don’t care.

  7. I do have some stretch marks on one breast, however they are not something that bothers me greatly. I have more pressing cosmetic issues like spider veins, however the older I get, the less I tend to worry about them.

  8. I really feel for the ladies who have ended up with stretch marks after pregnancy. I know people who looked after themselves with creams and lotions and still ended up with them. Me – I did nothing to pamper myself at the time and again, fortunate not to end up with any. Still don’t have any even at my mature age. But I do have wrinkles.

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