We all have stretch marks – even supermodels. If you started life as an infant and grew into an average-sized adult, you almost certainly have stretch marks somewhere on your body. And if you gave birth to an infant? Chances are quite high you gained a few more marks. But that doesn’t mean you have to like them or continue to look at them for the rest of your life. There are ways to fade, minimize and almost banish stretch marks altogether. Here are 5 ways to prevent and treat stretch marks, depending on your budget and how quickly you want your stripes gone.
But first, the key to dealing with stretch marks is to act quickly. Don’t wait for the marks to fade from angry red to clear or white. Erasing old stretch marks is much more difficult, even with cosmetic procedures.
Now let’s look at what you can try, and how effective each procedure is:
Vitamin E Oil
How it works: You can take vitamin E orally or apply it topically. It’s been shown to increase skin’s elasticity.
What it costs: Between $12 and $20, depending on the brand. Try: Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Nourishing Body Oil, $10 at well.ca.
The results: This is not the best way to deal with existing stretch marks. Vitamin E is more for prevention. So slather it on when you’re pregnant or take it orally prior to getting pregnant (some supplements may not be safe to take during pregnancy) or gaining weight, if that’s the kind of thing you plan.
How long does it take: This really depends on the elasticity of your skin to begin with. Just like any moisturizer, regular use will gradually improve the texture of your skin, so use it often!
How it works: Lemon juice contains natural acids that may brighten skin and fade discolouration. It’s also thought that lemon juice may boost collagen production. It’s best to buy fresh lemons and juice them yourself versus buying the packaged juice.
What it costs: A dollar or two.
The results: This incredibly natural method will really only help fade the red or purple lines associated with stretch marks. While the natural exfoliants and collagen-boosting properties may help with texture, don’t expect results quickly.
How long does it take: It may take months to start to see results, so be patient. You get what you pay for.
Vitamin A Oil or Retinol Cream
How it works: Vitamin A oil or a retinoid product (a vitamin-A-based ingredient) stimulate cell turnover and collagen production. Caution: Never take vitamin A orally or use retinol products when pregnant or nursing.
What it costs: $20 to more than $100. Try: Ren Bio Retinoid Anti-Aging Concentrate, $78 at Sephora.
The results: Retinol is one of the only proven ways to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and make skin look more youthful. Vitamin A and retinol products can be prescribed by a dermatologist, usually for acne. You’ll pay more for a higher concentration, but you may also see more skin irritation with a stronger product.
How long does it take: You will see results, but it may take up to six weeks to see the beginnings of smoothness, depending on the concentration of retinol in the product you use, which is often difficult to discern with over-the-counter products.
Collagen-boosting stretch mark creams
How it works: This is more a category of products than a specific stretch mark-blasting ingredient. These creams contain peptides and collagen-enhancing ingredients (often natural) that promise to fade stretch marks over time. Look for vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and, of course, the promise of faded stretch marks on the package. Check out products by Mederma, StriVectin and Clarins.
What it costs: About $45 to more than $100. Try: Clarins Stretch Mark Control, $54 at Clarins.
The results: The results won’t be as pronounced as a retinol product, but these products are generally safer for those with sensitive skin (or for those who are pregnant or nursing).
How long does it take: You may start to see results in as little as four weeks, but expect it to take a few months to see more extreme results.
How it works: This fractional resurfacing or laser treatment disrupts skin cells and causes them to renew by producing new collagen and smoother skin.
What it costs: About $200 per treatment, but it could take upwards of 10 treatments to achieve the results you’re looking for.
The results: Unfortunately, there is no way to completely remove stretch marks, but cosmetic procedures will be most effective in almost banishing them forever. Keep in mind that the process can be painful as skin heals.
How long does it take: Months. You have to wait up to two weeks between treatments, so expect to wait four months or more before your treatment is finished.