Stretch marks. Friend and new mom Erin Fox speaks of them in hushed, angry tones, calling them, “Something so evil they must be destroyed. Evilly.” Yes, Erin, stretch marks are bad. What’s more, they are complicated. No, I’m not talking complicated like understanding the appeal of putting crazy people on reality television. Stretch marks are complicated because a vigorous debate exists as to whether they can actually be prevented.
And the debate over stretch marks is fierce. It pits doctors against mothers against physical trainers against beauty technicians. And sure, there are those who argue that stretch marks are natural, we must embrace our bodies, and these marks just accentuate perfection. All good and true points – click here, my positive-thinking friends!
The cosmetics industry has produced tons of creams, oils, and salves that they swear will decimate stretch marks like a nuclear bomb takes care of tree. Meanwhile, other skin experts shake their heads, check their offices for hidden microphones, and admit that nothing can be done to prevent them. They are, in fact, a result of the genetic makeup of your skin.
And it does seem that stretch marks are unavoidable for some people. I have friends who cocoa buttered themselves ceaselessly during pregnancy – only to end up with stretch marks best described as Freddy Kruger-esque. Then I know others who sailed through pregnancy without a mark to be had. And nary a cream or oil did they touch.
So what’s the deal? Firstly, stretch marks aren’t just due to pregnancy. They come from weight loss or weight gain – basically, from anything that will stretch the skin. Men and women get them all over their bodies. They arise in the elastic middle layer of skin called the dermis. Experts point out that when the dermis is constantly stretched, it can break down. Voila, stretch marks. They start off red or purple and can end up silvery white on the skin.
So what can you do to fight them naturally? Yes, I know that some say they are unavoidable. But experts suggest keeping the skin as hydrated as possible – and that sure can’t hurt the situation. Use Vitamin E lotions and oils on the skin, and get as much Vitamin E as you can in your diet. Nuts, spinach and tomatoes all contain a lot of it.
Finally, Narine Nikogosian of Return to Beauty details a natural recipe for stretch mark care in her book. She suggests combing 3 Vitamin E capsules with 2 tablespoons of cocoa butter, covering your affected areas every night before bed. She also offers up a similar recipe combining 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon apricot kernel oil, and ½ teaspoon of honey. You can purchase Narine’s book here.
Have any of your own homemade recipes or tips to fight stretch marks that you’d like to share? Let us know!