Stretch marks, also called striae, happen when your skin changes shape rapidly due to growth or weight gain. They usually aren’t a sign that anything is wrong with your health. Anyone can get stretch marks, regardless of gender. However, women are more susceptible as pregnancy is probably the most common cause of stretch marks. Other common causes of stretch marks include losing or gaining weight rapidly, having breast enlargement surgery, and increasing muscle size rapidly. At first, a stretch mark will appear as a thin red or purple line of a different texture than the skin around it. Most stretch marks will fade on their own over time. They may become less noticeable after fading. Faded stretch marks usually look lighter in color than the surrounding skin and a little shiny, like a scar. So far, research says that there is no secret cure-all for stretch marks. But some home remedies can help minimize the appearance of stretch marks and could help them fade more quickly.
Vitamin A in skin care products is referred to as a retinoid. Retinoids can make the skin appear smoother and more youthful. They’re used in many over-the-counter topical cosmetic creams. Vitamin A products can sometimes irritate the skin, so make sure to follow instructions carefully if you try this ingredient. Because there are known risks to using retinoids during pregnancy, you should not use them if you are pregnant, lactating, or trying to become pregnant.
Hyaluronic acid is a powerful ingredient for moisturizing and skin healing. It’s often used in creams, lotions, and serums. The visible appearance of stretch marks comes along with invisible changes to your skin. These changes make skin less elastic, in part because collagen isn’t doing its usual job of strengthening the skin. Hyaluronic acid could have the potential to effect skin elasticity, according to a 2014 study. In fact, some research from 2017 suggests that hyaluronic acid can improve the appearance of stretch marks, though more research is needed to be sure. To try it, apply a hyaluronic acid product to the affected area daily.
Centella asiatica is an herb that’s a popular ingredient in Korean beauty products. Known as cica creams, products containing centella are sometimes used as scar treatments or to help calm and repair sensitive skin. Cica creams are growing in popularity in the United States, but they can be pricey. Centella helps reduce inflammation and promote collagen production. Research from 2015 suggested that creams containing centella may help prevent stretch marks during pregnancy and improve how they look.
Sugar is a popular exfoliator. The small crystals gently scrub away dead skin and leave you feeling smoother. Microdermabrasion performed by a dermatologist is one of the few clinically proven methods to make stretch marks fade. So, this home remedy for exfoliation seems worth a try. To make a sugar scrub:
- Combine a half cup of sugar with a softening agent, like almond oil or coconut oil. Mix the oil into the sugar, a little at a time. Your scrub is ready when it looks like wet beach sand. You may need to add up to a half cup of oil in total.
- Gently rub the mixture over the part of your body where the stretch marks are.
- Repeat 2 or 3 times per week while in the shower or bath. Rinse with warm water.
Make small batches of the scrub as needed. You can store your sugar scrub in a sealed container for a short time, but if it starts to look or smell off, start fresh with a new batch.
Aloe vera has a long history as a natural skin treatment. The jelly from inside the leaves of the aloe vera plant can be applied directly to skin to soothe and moisturize. Research from 2018 suggests that aloe vera helps skin heal from burns and wounds. Because stretch marks are a type of scarring from damaged skin, aloe’s skin-repairing properties might help with stretch mark prevention or fading. While little clinical evidence exists for aloe vera as a stretch mark cure, pure aloe vera may be worth trying because it can soften and heal skin. Apply pure aloe vera from a plant or an over-the-counter product to your stretch marks daily after you shower.
Virgin coconut oil has some benefits for the skin. It can help maintain your skin’s protective barrier. Research suggests that coconut oil improves dry skin and some skin infections. Another study found that virgin coconut oil helped skin wounds heal faster in rats. The action of gently massaging coconut oil onto your skin could prevent stretch marks.
Remember that stretch marks are common. The changes that can cause stretch marks such as growth spurts, weight changes, and pregnancy happen to many women. There is no perfect home remedy, but topical treatments can help with hydration and can promote your skin’s healing processes. If you’re treating stretch marks due to pregnancy, it’s always best to check with your doctor to ensure the treatment is safe to use. Almost all stretch marks will fade over time, even if you don’t treat them. Rarely will stretch marks stay as prominent as when they first appear.