Stretch marks can appear on the body due to fluctuations in size and shape. Though harmless, many people seek to reduce the appearance of these streaky lines for cosmetic reasons. While stretch marks don’t fully disappear, there are ways to significantly improve their appearance and texture. Read on to learn the most effective methods and products for minimizing stretch marks.
Exfoliate with AHAs Stretch Marks
Exfoliating is crucial for any skincare goal, including reducing stretch marks. Look for exfoliants containing alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic acid or lactic acid. AHAs are chemical exfoliants that dissolve the bonds between dead skin cells. This reveals fresher, smoother skin and allows other topicals to better absorb. Apply AHA exfoliant 2-3 times a week, focusing on areas with stretch marks. Just don’t over-exfoliate, as this can cause irritation.
Use Retinoids Stretch Marks
One powerful ingredient for treating stretch marks is retinoids. Retinoids boost collagen production and speed cell turnover to reveal newer skin. This is key for improving texture within stretch mark and smoothing their overall appearance. Over-the-counter retinoids like adapalene or retinaldehyde are gentler options. Prescription strength retinoids provide the strongest effects but require caution. Apply retinoid creams sparingly to stretch mark at night.
Try Peels and Microdermabrasion
In-office treatments like chemical peels and microdermabrasion physically slough off the top layer of skin. This is effective at refining stretch mark texture and reducing discoloration. Glycolic acid or TCA peels work well, but can cause significant peeling. Microdermabrasion with light suction is gentler but provides gradual smoothing over time. Get a series of peels or microdermabrasion sessions every 2-4 weeks for optimal stretch mark reduction.
Use Vitamin C Serums
Vitamin C brightens skin overall and fades discoloration, making it great for reducing visible stretch mark. Vitamin C also boosts collagen production which helps improve skin’s firmness and elasticity. Look for vitamin C serums with 15-20% concentration of ingredients like ascorbic acid or tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. Apply daily to existing stretch mark and areas prone to them. With consistent use, the marks appear lighter and less defined.
Try Microneedling Treatments
Microneedling is an effective clinical procedure for minimizing the look of stretch marks. During microneedling, tiny needles create micro-injuries that spur collagen and elastin production. This remodels the skin from within, smoothing texture. Most devices have needle depths between .5-2.5mm, with deeper penetration providing more dramatic results. Get a series of 3-6 treatments spaced 4-6 weeks apart for optimal stretch mark reduction.
Use Retinol Body Creams Stretch Marks
While topical retinoids work best on the face, retinol body lotions can improve stretch mark elsewhere. Look for moisturizing body creams containing moderate concentrations of retinol, around 0.1 – 0.25%. Retinol, a weaker retinoid, gently exfoliates and boosts collagen without irritation. Apply daily, massaging over existing stretch mark. Use consistently for at least 3 months to see noticeable improvement in their appearance.
Try Laser Treatments
For serious stretch mark removal, laser resurfacing effectively reduces their appearance. Ablative CO2 lasers vaporize thin outer skin layers while stimulating collagen regrowth. This powerfully smooths texture, though significant downtime is required. Non-ablative fractionated lasers target marks without damaging top layers, providing milder improvement with no downtime. Get a series of 4-6 laser treatments spaced 4-6 weeks apart for optimal results.
Use Radiofrequency Treatments of Stretch Marks
Radiofrequency skin tightening is another option for treating stretch mark. These devices use electromagnetic energy to deeply heat skin tissues, stimulating collagen production. This makes skin tighter, firmer and smoother in appearance. Radiofrequency can be combined with microneedling for amplified effects. Get a series of 4-6 radiofrequency treatments spaced 1 month apart. Pair with other topicals for optimal stretch mark reduction.
Massage With Bio-Oil
While countless lotions claim to treat stretch mark, Bio-Oil remains a popular option. This light, non-greasy oil contains vitamin E, chamomile, calendula and lavender oil to nourish skin. Gently massage a few drops of Bio-Oil over stretch marks twice daily. Consistent use helps reduce their visible indentation and red-purple discoloration. Bio-Oil is safe for use during pregnancy to minimize developing stretch marks as well.
Use Hydrating Oils
Keeping skin super hydrated improves its overall texture and suppleness. Plant-based oils are great moisturizing ingredients to use on stretch marks prone areas. Try gentle oils like jojoba, coconut, olive, avocado, sunflower seed, rosehip seed and almond. Use pure oils or look for lotions, serums and creams containing them. Massage oils over damp skin after bathing for best absorption into stretch marks.
Apply Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is a powerhouse moisturizing ingredient for hydrating skin. Look for creams, serums or moisturizers containing hyaluronic acid and use them daily over areas prone to stretch marks. Hyaluronic acid binds moisture to the skin and provides intense, long-lasting hydration. Well-hydrated skin appears plumper and smoother, improving the look of stretch mark. Hyaluronic acid also boosts new collagen formation within skin over time.
Use Moisturizing Body Washes
Gently cleanse skin using moisturizing washes instead of typical drying soaps. Look for body washes containing oils, butters, hyaluronic acid, glycerin or ceramides. Avoid sulfates and fragrances which can worsen stretch marks over time. When skin stays nourished and hydrated from cleansing, it’s more resilient against new stretch marks forming. For additional moisture, apply body lotion immediately after showering too.
Take Collagen Supplements
Taking supplements to improve skin from within can enhance your other stretch mark treatments. Collagen peptides support your body’s natural collagen production for firmer, smoother skin texture and resilience. Vitamins C, E, zinc and biotin also fortify skin and connective tissues. Take them daily according to directions for several months. While supplements alone might not remove stretch marks, they support other topical remedies.
Practice Good Sun Protection
Don’t underestimate the importance of diligent sun protection for minimizing old stretch marks and preventing new ones. UV exposure can worsen stretch mark’ reddish hue and cause sun spots. Always apply broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen when stretch mark will be exposed. Physical blockers like zinc oxide are best. Wear sun protective clothing and limit direct sun exposure. Stay in the shade during peak hours. Stopping further sun damage prevents stretch mark from worsening.
While stretch mark never disappear completely, using the right practices and products can significantly improve their indented texture and discoloration. Be diligent about exfoliating, moisturizing daily and applying targeted ingredients. In-office treatments provide dramatic reduction combined with daily care. With time and consistency, you’ll see noticeable improvement in the look of stretch mark.