Most of us have a love-hate relationship with stretch marks. We love them for the achievements they symbolize (read: pregnancy or weight loss), but we loathe them for sticking around. Though the streak-like skin tears often fade over time, there are expert-approved ways to speed up the healing process. And with the arrival of chilly weather comes the perfect excuse to hibernate and follow the striae-busting guidelines below, so you can have smoother skin in time for summer.
1. Try something new. The only thing more exciting than a big breakthrough in stretch mark treatment is that it’s available OTC (over the counter). “Serica Moisturizing Stretch Mark Formula ($40) has a 50 percent silicone base and Amazonian Pracaxi oil, which help expedite the healing of both old and new stretch marks,” says Dendy Engelman, dermatologic surgeon at Manhattan Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery. Apply to affected areas three times a day or as directed by a physician.
2. But also incorporate old faithful. “Silicone-based products are great [for stretch marks] and have the most scientific data backing their effectiveness of all topical treatments available today,” adds Engelman. Try Bio-Oil ($20), touted as the gold standard for persistent scars since 2002. The slick but not too greasy formula can also be used to help prevent stretch marks.
3. Enlist vitamin A. For older, pale marks, use topical vitamin A derivatives like retinol and Rx retinoids like Retin-A. “They can help tighten the appearance of the skin and make stretch marks less apparent,” says Engelman. Just be sure to load up on SPF, as using the ointment can make skin especially sensitive to sunlight. And never use it while pregnant.
4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. While there’s no magic pill or exfoliation technique that’ll completely banish the pesky scars, aggressive moisturization will help, says Engelman. Slather on a firming body treatment like Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Tummy Butter for Stretch Marks ($6) as often as humanly possible.
5. Take it to the office. If it’s game time for stretch marks that simply won’t scram, see a dermatologist. For new striae, a pulsed dye laser may be your best course of action. Fighting older lines? Ask your doctor about Fraxel or microneedling. “If patients have a darker skin type, microneedling is the safest way to avoid the risk of hyperpigmentation,” explains Engelman. (Photo via Getty)
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