Stretch marks can cause extreme distress. They often show up in times of emotional vulnerability. They pop up during growth spurts in puberty, are known as the badges of pregnancy, and are a constant reminder of weight fluctuations. Although they fade and soften with age, there are now things that we can do to speed up this process and diminish the appearance of these troublesome lines.
Alpha Hydroxy Acid Creams
Alpha hydroxy acids or (AHA’s) are often used in stretch mark creams. Glycolic acid is a powerful AHA derived from sugar cane. Glycolic acid is commonly used in creams or peels to improve the appearance of stretch marks. Alpha hydroxy acids work by exfoliating the top layer of skin and stimulating the skin to speed up cell regeneration. This helps to improve the texture and color of stretch marks.
Retinods are vitamin A derivatives that are used for many skin conditions including acne and aging skin. Retinoids are also an effective treatment for stretch marks. They work by stimulating collagen and elastin production. Care must be used when using retinols because they thin the top layer of skin and cause the skin to be more photo-sensitive. Always use a sunscreen when using retinoids. These ingredients are not recommended during pregnancy, they are known to cause birth defects when taken in pill form.
Peptides are used in stretch mark creams for their ability to heal and regenerate the skin. Peptides are a by product of damaged proteins. Their job is to signal the body to up collagen production. Applying peptides topically may trick the body into thinking there has been a recent loss of collagen. The body responds by upping collagen production in the area where the peptide cream is applied. The stability of the product is important, as peptides degrade easily.
Cocoa butter has been used for generations in the treatment of stretch marks; though, clinical evidence is lacking in its effectiveness. One study reported no benefit when using cocoa butter during pregnancy over a placebo cream. It is possible that the increased circulation, resulting form massaging any cream into the skin, will help to improve skin elasticity.
Some creams utilize essential oils for the treatment of stretch marks. Neroli and lavender are two essential oils that are often recommended for this use. You can purchase aromatherapy creams formulated for stretch marks or make your own blend. Aromatherapy oils can be added to carrier oils, aloe vera or cocoa butter and massaged into the skin. Adding vitamin E oil to the formula may help improve its effectiveness. Vitamin E is also a natural preservative, so adding it to the blend could help extend the shelf life of your product. Certain essential oils may not be recommended for use during pregnancy. It’s important to check with your doctor or health care provider before using any product that you are uncertain of.