What is the number one skin problem of anyone who has gained or lost a lot of weight or got pregnant? We all know the answer. Stretch marks – the nightmare of almost every mummy-to-be, dieter, weight-gainer, rapidly growing teenager or woman going through the menopause. Whenever our body undergoes rapid hormone changes, it may affect our skin and result in the occurrence of stretch marks.
Causes and symptoms of stretch marks
Stretch marks are visible lines on the skin that form when the middle layer of the skin, or dermis, gets stretched and the elastin fibres tear. When this happens, collagen stops being produced in the rupture zone and the line turns into a scar that gradually changes the colour from pink or red to silvery. This condition usually affects the abdomen, buttocks, breasts, thighs and, less often, arms.
Those lines do not affect the overall health or the skin condition and have gained a bad fame only due to the fact that it makes the skin look unattractive. With the growing pressure put on both men and women to have flawless bodies, pharmaceutical concerns made millions on products that are supposed to prevent or fight stretch marks. The truth is that they fade with time and don’t require any special treatment. However, it’s a very slow process and if stretch marks make you feel self-conscious, you can learn how to avoid stretch marks and try some of the home remedies we describe below.
How to avoid stretch marks
The list of health and looks-related problems that can be solved with light exercise is very long and stretch marks are obviously one of them. Regular exercise improves the elasticity of your skin since it boosts the production of collagen. Yoga and pilates, if practiced regularly, can prevent the dermis from damaging in the event of sudden hormone changes. Remember, however, that if you are a bodybuilder and aim at gaining an extraordinary muscle mass, the skin is almost bound to suffer from stretch marks to some extent, especially if the weight gain is rapid.
Make sure you include a lot of proteins, vitamin C and zinc in your diet. They strengthen the skin cells and protect them from damage. Eat more fish, nuts, green salad and citrus fruits in order to avoid stretch marks.
If you moisturise your skin regularly, you improve its elasticity and you keep it nourished. Also, you improve the blood circulation in the moisturised areas thanks to the massage you perform while applying the product.
Home remedies for stretch marks
Just like creams, gels and other products aimed at reducing the appearance of stretch marks, home remedies are the most effective on relatively recent skin changes. The sooner you start the treatment, the better results you will get.
The necessity of regular exfoliation is obvious. You need to remove dead skin cells in order to rejuvenate your skin and make it look healthier and radiant. Performing a regular scrub stimulates the regeneration processes in the skin, therefore, may be of a great help when you try to get rid of stretch marks.
You can prepare a very simple and effective scrub at home. You just need sugar, almond oil and lemon juice. It’s a good idea to prepare a larger amount of the scrub at once and keep it in a jar in the fridge for up to two weeks. This way, you will save time and will have no excuses to not exfoliate the skin daily. The proportions may vary, but in general, you need half a cup of sugar, 4 tablespoons of almond oil and juice of half a lemon. Rub the mixture on the skin affected by stretch marks and perform a massage for 5 minutes. Rinse it off with warm water, dry the skin with a towel and apply a moisturizer. After just one month of this simple treatment, you will notice that the stretch marks have significantly faded away.
Aloe vera is probably the most popular natural ingredient of cosmetics and skincare products. Its multiple properties make it a great home remedy for stretch marks, too. When applied directly to the damaged skin, aloe vera soothes it and promotes the healing process. You can either cut an aloe vera leaf and rub it onto your skin or squeeze the pulp out and use it as a mask. Apply it on your skin and leave it on for half an hour. Rinse it off with lukewarm water and dab the skin with a dry towel.
To make the most of the aloe vera properties and to really boost the healing of your stretch marks, blend one cup of aloe vera leaves with the oil squeezed from 5 vitamin A capsules and 10 vitamin E capsules. This mixture should be applied daily, before bedtime, on the areas affected by stretch marks. If you let this magic cream do the work every night for a month, you will be amazed at how fast the stretch marks will be disappearing.
Minerals and vitamins contained in potatoes help the skin regenerate faster and even though potatoes are not normally associated with cosmetic use, they are really worth trying in the treatment of stretch marks. Cut the potato in slices and rub them one by one onto the skin. Leave the juice on to dry for a few minutes and rinse the skin off with warm water. For better results, you can juice the potato in a vegetable juicer and mix the pulp and the juice – which will be separated – back together. Add a few drops of lemon juice and apply the mask on the thighs and abdomen or any other area affected by stretch marks. Leave the mask on for 15-20 minutes and wash it off with warm water.
Rubbing warm olive oil onto the skin has a triple effect in the case of stretch marks. Olive oil nourishes the skin and boosts the rejuvenation process as well as provides the skin with antioxidants. The warmth of the olive oil and the massage improves blood circulation in the skin and speeds up the healing process. You can apply olive oil on your skin daily, before bedtime. Remember to let it dry up a bit before you go to bed, though, because you don’t want your sheets to be covered with olive oil stains.
Castor oil gives equally good effects as olive oil when used in the stretch mark reduction. Apply castor oil on the skin generously and perform a message in order to let the oil get well absorbed by the skin. Wrap the skin in a thin cotton cloth. If you perform the procedure on your thighs and buttocks, you can simply put on leggings. Apply some heat on the area where you rubbed the oil. For this, you can use a hot water bottle or a hair dryer. The heat applied for 15 minutes helps castor oil penetrate deeper layers of the skin and improves greatly the efficiency of the treatment.
Citrus juices are used in the treatment of blemishes and freckles as they have a high concentration of acids. If you want to make use of those benefits and brighten your stretch marks, squeeze the juice from one lemon, soak a cotton ball in it and dab it onto the red lines on your skin. Leave it on for 10 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water. Make sure you apply a moisturiser after every treatment since lemon, lime and orange juice may cause a slight irritation. The best way to moisturise the skin after a citrus treatment is by applying a few drops of jojoba oil.
Cocoa butter is like a celebrity among the anti-stretchmark products. Many people swear by it. Cocoa butter improves blood circulation, reduces the appearance of scars, moisturises, nourishes and on top of that it has anti-ageing properties. Massage cocoa butter two times a day on the skin affected by stretch marks or once a day if you simply want to prevent the damage to the skin and to keep it properly moisturised.
The skin must be well hydrated in order to be able to regenerate. That is why during the stretch mark treatment it is exceptionally important that you drink at least 1,5 liter of water a day. During this time think of water as a medicine prescribed by the doctor. You simply can’t miss the next dose or the next glass of water. If you drink more than 2 liters of water a day – which is great for your overall health – remember that you might have to catch up on some vitamins, like vitamin C, which gets flushed out of the body in the case of a high liquid intake.
Whipped egg whites applied on the skin provide an instant lifting effect, brighten the blemishes and nourish the skin thanks to the high level of proteins and amino acids. The treatment is very simple. Just whip two or three egg whites (the amount depends on the area you want to treat) and apply it with a brush or with your hand on a clean dry surface of the skin affected by stretch marks. Leave it on and let it dry. You will have the sensation of tightness on your skin, which is completely normal. After 10-15 minutes or when the mixture dries completely, wash it off with warm water and apply some moisturizer.