How to Reduce the Appearance of Stretch Marks

Three Methods:TreatmentsLifestyle ChangesMasking Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are a common after-effect of pregnancy, rapid weight gain and loss, and even growth spurts. They result from the skin rapidly expanding to make room for extra weight. Stretch marks are not preventable, and there is no sure way to make them go away. The best way to reduce the appearance of stretch marks is to use different methods to help them fade and become less noticeable. Special treatments, lifestyle changes and a little makeup can go a long way toward minimizing the appearance of stretch marks.

Method 1

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    Try a natural moisturizer. There are many natural, over-the-counter creams people use to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. These can be used throughout pregnancy and beyond to keep the skin supple and fade stretch marks. There is no conclusive research showing that any one ingredient can fade stretch marks. However, the following natural products are said to be helpful:
    • Aloe vera, which is said to reduce scarring and stretch marks[1]
    • Coconut oil or butter, which keeps skin supple when applied daily[2]
    • Shea butter, used around the world to help fade stretch marks[3]
    • Egg oil (Oleova) helps prevent stretch marks when applied twice daily over the entire abdomen from the first trimester of pregnancy until six months after delivery.[4]
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    Use a gel that contains hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a substance naturally found in the body. When applied topically, it has the effect of reducing the signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles. There is no research proving that hyaluronic acid drastically changes the appearance of stretch marks. However, some have found that treating stretch marks a gel containing hyaluronic acid may help to to fade them.[5]
    • Gels containing hyaluronic acid may be ordered online or purchased in specialty beauty stores.
    • Apply the gel according to the manufacturer's instructions.[6]
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    Try a retinoid cream. Retinoid is a substance that is known to stimulate collagen growth in the skin. When applied to stretch marks, it may help renew the skin and cause the stretch marks to fade in appearance. Retinoid cream is available by prescription. Talk with your dermatologist about whether it's a good choice for your skin.[7]
    • Retinoids may take weeks or month to have a significant effect on the skin. Even after that much time, they are unlikely to completely erase your stretch marks.[8]
    • Retinoids should not be used while you're pregnant or breastfeeding. There is not enough research to determine whether retinoids have a negative effect on a developing fetus or newborn. Physicians advise avoiding retinoids until after you've given birth and are no longer breastfeeding.[9]
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    Consider dermabrasion. Microdermabrasion is the process of removing the top layer of skin cells using a small exfoliating tool. Since stretch marks affect more than just the top layer of cells, many do not find that the treatment makes a significant difference. However, some believe that microdermabrasion can help fade the appearance of red stretch marks.[10]
    • Talk with your dermatologist before choosing dermabrasion. He or she may be able to advise you as to whether it's a good choice for your stretch marks.
    • Dermabrasion treatments are normally conducted at salons or spas. These treatments usually cost between $100 and $150 for one session.
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    Consider laser therapy. There is no conclusive research showing that laser therapy works to remove stretch marks, but many women have had satisfactory results.[11] A high-energy ultraviolet laser is used to remove the thin layers of skin around the stretch marks. After the treatment, the skin is renewed and the stretch marks are faded in appearance.[12]
    • If you're interested in laser therapy, talk with your dermatologist about the risks before proceeding. In some cases, laser therapy causes scarring.
    • The healing process after laser therapy usually lasts about one week.

Method 2
Lifestyle Changes

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    Protect stretch marks from the sun. Stretch marks usually fade from a deep red to a pale silver over time. You can help them fade faster and to a less noticeable color by protecting your skin from sun damage. The sun's rays can weaken the skin and cause the stretch marks to look worse.[13]
    • Use sunscreen with a SPF 15 or higher each time you expose your stretch marks to the sun. Be sure to reapply it regularly.
    • If you get a light burn, treat it with aloe vera to help heal the skin as quickly as possible.
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    Keep the area moisturized. Keeping your skin moisturized won't directly fade stretch marks, but it can help your skin stay healthy and supple. Skin that is dry tends to lose elasticity, which can make stretch marks and other blemishes stand out all the more. While there is no definite way to prevent stretch marks, some say that keeping your skin moisturized keeps them from looking too severe.
    • Regularly exfoliate your skin before bathing, then apply a rich moisturizer to the area where you have stretch marks to keep your skin from getting dry.
    • If you have very dry skin, try using a room humidifier to keep the air in your home moist. Aim to keep the humidity between 30 and 50 percent for soft, well-moisturized skin.
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    Stay hydrated. When your body is dehydrated, your skin tends to show wrinkles more easily. The same goes for stretch marks. Hydrating your body makes your skin look healthy and supple, helping to make the appearance of stretch marks less severe.
    • Drink water when you feel thirsty. Try carrying a reusable water bottle with you throughout the day so you'll always have a drink on hand.
    • Replace alcoholic and caffeinated drinks with water whenever possible.
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    Stop smoking. Cigarette smoke deteriorates the skin.[14] Any skin blemish you have will only worsen if you're in frequent contact with cigarette smoke. To keep your skin looking young and healthy, take measures to quit smoking as soon as possible.

Method 3
Masking Stretch Marks

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    Get a safe tan. Once your stretch marks have faded to a slightly silvery color, it isn't difficult to help them blend in with the rest of your skin. One way of doing this is by using fake tanner to give yourself a light tan. This is a good solution in the summer when you want to bare stretch marks on your belly and sides. Purchase a gradual tanning lotion and use it to even out your skin tone.[15]
    • Don't get a "real" tan by sunbathing. The sun's rays could cause skin damage and ultimately make your stretch marks look worse.
    • Follow the instructions on the packaging to get a realistic-looking tan. There's no need to go overboard. Just tanning a shade or two darker will help to hide your stretch marks.
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    Use makeup. If you want to temporarily hide your stretch marks, you can use the same makeup you use to hide blemishes on your face. This works best for stretch marks that are on a part of your body that won't rub against clothing. Choose foundation the same color as your skin tone. Follow these steps for a natural-looking appearance:[16]
    • Apply a light layer of foundation over the stretch marks and the surrounding skin.
    • Blend with a foundation brush.
    • Apply a layer of translucent powder to set the foundation.


  • Stretch marks are a natural result of the body's changes. Instead of trying to make them disappear, aim to keep your skin as healthy as possible.

Article Info

Categories: Cellulite and Stretch Marks | Skin Conditions