Everything you need to know about stretch marks
The way your body adapts and evolves through each stage of life is nothing short of beautiful. This is your guide understanding, loving, and nourishing the natural marks of change.
Stretch marks are normal. We'll say that again. Stretch marks are normal. From pink and purple to silver and white, tiger stripes grace everyone from adult women to teenage boys. Just as our bodies evolve and fluctuate throughout our lives, our skin bears the marks of our developing. So, it’s high time we talked about them. We asked the experts everything you need to know – bearing in mind the multitude of feelings you might have about your stretch marks – with our sights set on supporting your skin, so you stay healthy and happy in body and mind.
What are stretch marks?
Although it's a beauty term we've come to easily recognise, the correct name for stretch marks is actually striae, which is Latin for ‘furrows.’ The first signs of them are usually red or purple lines in fair skin or hyperpigmented lines in dark skin – often raised but sometimes flat. Eventually, they turn a white or silvery hue with a wrinkled appearance, and it's at this point that they become permanent. The most common locations for stretch marks are areas that are prone to fluctuations in size and growth spurts, such as the stomach, bottom, thighs, legs, back, and breasts.
What causes them?
When skin stretches or retreats quickly, the collagen and elastin that supports it ruptures. It's no secret that the most common causes of striae are pregnancy, growth or weight change; but they can appear whatever your size, age or circumstance.
“Puberty is a typical time to expect stretch marks,” says Dr Ross Perry who is the Medical Director of CosmedicsUK. “It's a time when bodies are changing shape due to hormones, such as hips widening and either weight gain or loss can impact the elasticity of the skin.” Body changes aside, stretch marks can also be genetic, as certain variations in the ELN gene can affect the development of stretch marks. Just another thing to thank the parents for!
Is there anything we can do to prevent or treat them?
It may be the million-dollar question, but the fact is, stretch marks are simply Mother Nature’s method for helping your body to shape-shift. However, keeping our skin soft, supple and hydrated can help skin manage the changes our bodies go through and soften the visibility of stretchmarks. “Creams, lotions, and massage oils won’t make the stretch marks disappear altogether, but they will make skin feel smoother with boosted elasticity,” Dr Perry says.
Skin-healing, omega-rich ingredients like shea butter and tamanu oil (found in our nourishing Tamanu Balm All-In-One Skin Saviour) are ideal for supporting collagen and elastin strength. Healing vitamin E is also blended into our Elixir Radiance-Boosting Omega Oil – an organic oil which is clinically tested, showing an average of 31% increase in skin firmness and elasticity after 28 days. This golden oil is an ideal solution for over-stretched, struggling skin – and an indulgent massage is always a nice way to connect and honour your body, too.
Stretch marks are notoriously hard to treat once they turn white, so Dr. Perry is quick to advise layering on your skin nourishment while they’re still pink to decrease their visibility, if that makes you feel more confident. Drinking water and eating foods rich in healthy fats such as oily fish and avocados can also boost your skin's elasticity and resilience. All the more reason to give your body some extra love and nourishment today… Guacamole, anyone?