How to take care of stretch marks (striae distensae): 5 tips

Heather Campbell
 min read

How to take care of stretch marks, also known as striae distensae or zebra stripes? Almost no one escapes them.

How to take care of stretch marks (striae distensae): 5 tipsWhat cosmetic brands know well is our obsession with them. They compete between themselves with miracle anti-stretch mark solutions whose price and effectiveness are perplexing.

As a whole, stretch marks are part of us, regardless of how we got them. There is no magic cure to them, but we can try to prevent them and ensure the skin remains supple and nourished, making them less noticeable. At the same time, they are a natural phenomenon so you may as well embrace them.

Because our stretch marks are tough, getting rid of them is almost impossible.

Instead, read on to learn to live well with our stretch marks.

How to take care of stretch marks: Introduction

Do you know what stretch marks are? Scars. They are traces of our skin stretching too suddenly and intensely for the capacities of our elastic skin fibers.

Stomach, chest, thighs or hips, buttocks, arms, back, etc. Purple streaks can appear, of varying width and length. They then lighten up to form pearly white depressions.

Almost impossible to erase, the fibers of the deep dermis, between the epidermis and the hypodermis, are torn.

Stretch marks are one of the most-shared things in the world for all morphologies.

Rapid weight gain or loss, puberty, menopause, pregnancy, corticosteroid treatment. Stretch marks causes are numerous!

What do they have in common? A combo of physical modifications and important and brutal hormonal changes that weaken the skin by blocking fibroblasts, collagen-producing cells.

This same collagen gives its strength and elasticity to our epidermis.

More affected by hormones, women are more prone to stretch marks. An additional genetic injustice is that women’s skin is less thick and contains fewer fibers.

It is less resistant than men’s skin. Result: at least 80% of women (up to 90% of pregnant women) have stretch marks.

So, is the fight against stretch marks a lost cause? If your goal is to avoid them or erase them completely, we’ll tell you right now:

Yes, even with the help of revolutionary anti-stretch mark cosmetics.

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Accepting your stretch marks

Obviously, we really want to believe these ads that promise to get rid of our horrid marks. Let’s stop to think for a minute.

Why should we be ashamed of our stretch marks? A body with stretch marks is commonplace, normal, inevitable even.

Like wrinkles, hair, and everything else that we consider as imperfections. Struggling with it is exhausting, endless, demoralizing and often ruinous.

What if we changed the way we look at our stretch marks instead? Stand in front of the mirror. What do you see? Simple marks that tell your story.

And if some people don’t like them, what does it matter?

Of course, it’s not that easy. The social pressure (especially for women) is strong and there is no more magic wand to erase them.

But there is strength in numbers and this fight for self-acceptance in all the diversity of bodies has been led for several decades by the Body Positive movement, formidably amplified by social networks.

Activists, artists, celebrities and others claim their stretch marks.

A sign that does not deceive is how major brands are joining the movement by not erasing stretch marks from their catalogs and ads.

Yes, this skinny model also has stretch marks on her buttocks in real life. Stretch marks affect everyone, all body types, all ages.

And yes, we are beautiful with our stretch marks.

Take care of your skin and your stretch marks to better accept them

It’s not enough to say that you accept your stretch marks to feel better, and just leave it at that.

The first step? Stop fighting your body, your skin and of course,  your stretch marks.

A rigorous and gentle daily body routine

Strengthening your epidermis, its elasticity, tone and resistance over the long term is the best way to help it cope with stretch marks.

Even outside of any critical period. A comfortable skin, without tightness, which resists aggressions, would be amazing, right?

Choose a body moisturizer that’s right for your skin. The light vegetable oils and floral waters of certain hydrating body milks tone and soften normal to dry skin.

Some dry body oils bring suppleness and strength to skins with less intense needs.

More fragile or dry skin needs a rich body cream. Avoid anything that can weaken and dry out your skin, especially sulfated shower gels.

Choose a good cold-saponified, nourishing soap.

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Boost your collagen on your plate

To resist stretching, your skin needs collagen at its best.

Eat foods rich in vitamin A and C, copper and sulfur that stimulate fibroblasts such as citrus fruits, kiwis, cabbage, legumes, spinach, eggplant, strawberries, turnips, leeks, garlic, onions, chives, seaweed, mushrooms.

Depending on your diet, choose from meats, seafood, egg yolks, seeds and oilseeds and whole grains.

Above all, eat a balanced diet without neglecting the intake of good lipids, which are essential for the elasticity of the epidermis and the circulation of nutrients in the body: vegetable oils, fatty fish, etc.

Avoid sugars and white cereals, which are harmful to the suppleness and renewal of skin fibers.

Finally, drink plenty of water to preserve your elastin.

In short, you must take care of your health and vitality and you will do your skin good. It shows.

Good habits for an elastic and toned skin

Beware of three major enemies of skin (as well as health):

  • solar UV and
  • tobacco (the two main sources of free radicals), and
  • repeated diets with a yo-yo effect.

Beware of prolonged hot baths that accelerate skin slackening and dry out the skin.

Are scrubs supposed to reduce stretch marks? Not really. They weaken your epidermis so they should be used in moderation.

Finally, regular exercise is an excellent prevention because muscles improve skin support.

Critical period? Switch to a preventive stretch mark routine

Pregnancy, menopause, weight gain or loss? Your skin is thus weakened.

Switch to a preventive routine targeting at-risk areas with highly nourishing and softening treatments.

During puberty, pay attention to boys because their impressive growth spurts expose them to stretch marks.

When you are pregnant, be vigilante about the products you apply, especially to your stomach or chest.

Do not be satisfied with a mention of “pregnancy”, check the ingredients and avoid synthetic additives, 100% natural, without essential oils.

The best? Quality vegetable oils: sweet almond, Sacha Inchi, macadamia, rosehip, shea, cocoa, etc.

Even more effective: Use them in synergy in a balanced care whatever your skin type.

Rich in highly nourishing plant-based active ingredients, plant butters (shea butter, cocoa) and particularly protective and restructuring oils (avocado, baobab, coconut, desert date palm, etc.), a mix is the care to be used by all in the prevention of stretch marks.

To facilitate its penetration, activate your blood circulation and stimulate your fibroblasts, apply it morning and evening with a long, gentle massage.

Are the stretch marks there? Pamper them!

Small purplish streaks appear despite everything? Don’t feel guilty, it was inevitable.

But continue to take care of your stretch marks. Why? To accelerate the repair of the epidermis, to attenuate and circumscribe them.

Recent stretch marks can still stretch considerably.

Intensifying your massages will promote healing.

Two to three minutes, morning and evening, with active ingredients that strengthen and repair your tissues, stimulate your support fibers, and attenuating marks.

Examples of these active ingredients are:

  • daisy macerate, an unparalleled toner and healer,
  • calophyll repairing and healing oils,
  • nourishing sweet almond,
  • restructuring argan with its 75% fatty acids, and
  • macadamia rich in regenerating palmitoleic acid.

And it’s also a way to tame your stretch marks. Observe them and massage them daily.

You will see them in a different light, they will become a part of you.

Because once you have them, they’re there to stay. Might as well learn to get along with them, right?

But if you don’t get used to your zebra reflection, don’t feel guilty. Since adolescence, we’ve been told that stretch marks are ugly.

Each one of us, we do as we can, as we want. Are your stretch marks a source of pain? Counseling or surgery may help.

How to take care of stretch marks: Conclusion

There is no magic cure for stretch marks. The secret is to keep the skin supple and healthy, while at the same time accepting them as part of who you are.

About Heather Campbell

As a dietitian, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More