Is an expensive stretch mark cream the key to getting rid of stretch marks?
Stretch marks are common and few people escape these lines completely. They’re a normal part of puberty and pregnancy and also appear during many other times in your life. However, whilst some people wear their stripes with pride, you might feel more self-conscious.
When it comes to how to get rid of stretch marks, there are all sorts of treatments and creams that promise to make your marks disappear. However, the research to support their claims is far from conclusive…
Before you invest in a stretch mark treatment or another cream, we want you to understand what’s causing these marks so you can make educated decisions about if and how you tackle them.
Stretch marks are lines or marks that develop when your skin is stretched too far.
These marks tend to vary in colour. Often, they will start out pink, red, brown or purple, and fade to silver over time. The most popular locations for stretch marks are on the tummy, chest, upper arms, legs, bottom, hips and back.
It’s important to understand what causes stretch marks to fully appreciate why they may develop.
When skin stretches too much, too rapidly, the elastic fibres and collagen beneath the surface over-extend and can even break. Once these tissues are over-stretched or damaged, they lose their elasticity.
This means they don't bounce back. On the surface, this shows as stretch marks.
Stretch marks can appear at various stages in your life. Whether due to adolescent growth spurts, pregnancy, bulking up through bodybuilding or weight gain, they’re a visible sign of skin structure damage.
No stretch marks look the same. They differ from person-to-person and from stretch mark-to-stretch mark. They can develop on different parts of your body too. For instance you can get:
Stretch marks can happen if people lose weight too rapidly and if they put it on too rapidly too. If you’re planning on losing weight, doing it slowly (no more than 1% of your body weight a week) can reportedly help reduce the likelihood of stretch marks developing.1
First of all, you can expect stretch marks to change and fade over time. Without treatment.
These lines typically start off darker and get lighter and less noticeable over time.
So, once the reasons for ‘stretching’ settle, you may start to see a reduction in the appearance of any marks naturally.
It can happen, but it’s not guaranteed that stretch marks will fade on their own, regardless of if they were formed by losing weight.2
Most people tend to get stretch marks on their tummy, chest, upper arms, legs, bottom, hips or back.3
They may develop in just one or multiple places, and at different times throughout your life too.
According to the NHS, sudden growth or weight gain are the two main stretch mark causes. You may be more prone to getting them if you: 4
Stretch marks are hard to avoid because they can happen for so many reasons at various times in your life. A few things that can make you more likely to develop stretch marks are:
It's impossible to say. Whether you get stretch marks or not, is largely influenced by your genes.
As a general rule, if your parents have them, you’re more likely to get them too.
Preventing stretch marks isn’t always possible but maintaining a healthy, consistent weight can help.
A stretch mark is a type of scar, so for some people, it's a permanent thing that may fade over time. Stretch mark treatments do exist, with some reportedly being more effective than others.
They include stretch mark creams, lotions and gels, as well as home remedies, such as almond oil, cocoa butter or olive oil. The result, if any, differs from person-to-person.8
Ok, so we’ve established it’s not possible to remove stretch marks, but you can try to reduce stretch marks (the appearance of them) with methods such as:
Consistent use of super-moisturising formulations may enhance the appearance of your skin.
Although this won’t prevent or remove stretch marks, it may help improve your skin tone and general appearance of your complexion.
However, a specific stretch mark cream may not be necessary. Some research suggests standard moisturisers could be just as effective.
Many skincare products and treatments claim to reduce the appearance of stretch marks dramatically and more rapidly. But there's very little evidence to suggest any form of stretch mark removal will actually work.
There are some treatments that may help make stretch marks look better, but they will not get rid of them.
When you consider stretch marks are the result of damage to collagen and fibre supporting your skin, you can see how difficult it would be for a topical cream to repair this damage.
Realistically, a cream is unlikely to repair this fibrous support structure.
Whether you gain stretch marks during your teenage years or through pregnancy, it’s important to remember one thing - stretch marks are completely normal.
Most of us have them and many of us choose to wear them with pride.
Last updated: 10 June 2021
Joined Holland & Barrett: May 2019
BSc Hons in Pharmaceutical & Cosmetic Science
Manisha started her career at a Cosmetics distributor as a Regulatory Technologist followed by a Regulatory Affairs Officer, ensuring the regulatory compliance of cosmetic products from colour cosmetics to skincare.
After 3 and half years in this role, Manisha joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.
Manisha specialises in Cosmetic products, both own-label and branded lines, ensuring that these products and all relating marketing material comply to the EU Cosmetics Regulation.