There is nothing like summer to make you painfully aware of all your stretch marks—and in my case, some that I didn’t even know I had! Those pesky scars aren’t anything to be ashamed of, though. In fact, most of us have them somewhere.
Whenever the skin is stretched too quickly before it has the ability to adjust, stretch marks occur. They are often seen during the teenage years in boys on their lower back and girls on their hips and breasts, bodybuilders where muscles grow quickly, and in pregnant women on their hips, breasts, and stomach.
Stretch marks can be caused by pregnancy [source], weight gain, hormonal imbalances, steroid-based medications, as well as the completely normal process of growing. They are caused by mechanical stretching causing damage to the elastic fibers in the skin [source]. Like scars, they are initially inflamed and reddish-purple, but they eventually fade to slightly whiter than your skin with a subtle raised texture.
For many people, especially women, they’re just a part of life unless you invest in spendy creams, chemical peels, or laser treatments. But here are 7 natural ways that are accessible to everyone to reduce the appearance of stretch marks and prevent new ones from forming.
8 At-Home Stretch Mark Remedies
Note: If you’re pregnant and looking to minimize stretch marks, make sure to check with your healthcare practitioner before taking or applying anything for them!
1. Hyaluronic acid
Hyaluronic acid can be found in many cosmetic products due to its reputation as a skin rejuvenator [source], and it plays a significant role in the treatment of skin aging [source]. This is due, in part, to its hydrating ability. But it has shown its effectiveness in improving the appearance of stretch marks because it stimulates collagen and elastin production [source].
2. Dry brushing
Brushing your skin with a dry brush every day can help improve your circulation and cell renewal and may even help reduce the appearance of—and minimize new—stretch marks and cellulite. Here’s a tutorial to get you started!
3. Coconut oil
You already know that we use coconut oil for pretty much everything, but it’s an amazing skin hydrator that could be helpful for stretch marks, too. Simply rub it right on your belly, legs, or wherever else they appear. Beyond simply using your organic extra virgin coconut oil from the kitchen, there are many excellent coconut oil moisturizers to use daily when exiting the shower.
4. Cocoa butter
Like coconut oil, cocoa butter has long been used as a DIY stretch mark treatment. It’s the basis of a lot of commercial stretch mark remedies. Try these DIY Body Butter Bars, which also help treat cellulite.
5. Castor oil
Heated castor oil packs are a great regular practice to get into. They are often used to help regulate digestion, make periods easier and more predictable, detox the liver, and when applied to a stretch mark-laden area like the abdomen, they help smooth the skin.
To treat stretch marks, a 15- to 20-minute session a few times a week is worth a try. Here’s a tutorial for doing one—please note that you should not do a castor oil pack if you’re pregnant, think you might be pregnant, or are currently menstruating!
6. Aloe vera
Aloe is famous for its ability to heal skin [source], and stretch marks are no exception! The key is to catch and treat them with aloe right when they appear and to keep up the regimen every day. Adapt this Aloe Vera Face Pack recipe to work as a stretch mark treatment by reducing the amount of lemon to 2 tablespoons and adding a tablespoon of almond (or olive) oil and the liquid from a vitamin E capsule.
7. Egg whites
The theory is that the proteins and collagen in egg whites can help your skin become more elastic and bounce back from stretch marks. Try this Egg White Face Lift Mask on your stretch marks every day for a couple of weeks (like the aloe treatment, feel free to add an oil to make it thicker), and see if they start to disappear!
8. Retinoid-based body lotions
Using retinol-based body lotions 2 to 3 times a week can also help treat and prevent stretch marks. In addition to hydrating skin, lotions with retinol help with uneven skin tone and fade dark spots and even stretch marks.
Studies have shown that tretinoin (prescription-level retinol) has been used to treat red stretch marks with some improvement but not so much for the white ones [source].
What’s your go-to remedy for stretch marks?
This post was medically reviewed by Dr. Jennifer Haley, a board-certified dermatologist with extensive experience in medical, cosmetic, and surgical dermatology. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Photos by Ana Stanciu