Stretch marks occur when your skin stretches rapidly due to pregnancy, weight gain or a period of rapid growth. Stretch marks occur because the dermis, or under layer of your skin, tears when rapid stretching of the skin occurs. Stretch marks typically appear on the stomach, thighs, buttocks and breasts, but they can appear anywhere where the skin has been forced to expand too quickly. Applying cocoa butter during pregnancy can help prevent stretch marks by keeping the skin moist and helping it retain its natural elasticity in the face of expansion.
How Stretch Marks Occur
Stretch marks occur when your skin is forced to expand rapidly due to fast growth. Such growth can occur during weight gain or growth spurts in adolescents. However, stretch marks are generally associated with pregnancy, because the skin of the abdomen must stretch significantly as the fetus grows in the womb.
Your skin grows in three layers. The first, or outermost layer, is known as the epidermis; this is the layer you can see. The second, or under layer, is called the dermis. The third, or innermost, layer is known as the subcutaneous stratum.
The underlayer of your skin, or dermis, is made up of collagen fibers. Collagen fibers are elastic by nature, and they give your skin the ability to stretch. However, skin can’t stretch indefinitely. When skin expands rapidly, the collagen fibers of the dermis can’t keep up; they tear, and scar tissue develops, causing stretch marks.
Why Cocoa Butter Is Good for Moisturizing Your Skin
Cocoa butter is a natural vegetable fat made from cocoa beans. Cocoa butter is naturally rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant vitamin that helps protect the collagen fibers in your skin from free radical damage. This helps make the collagen fibers in your skin stronger, to help them retain their elasticity and reduce the appearance of stretch marks after pregnancy.
Using Cocoa Butter to Prevent Stretch Marks
The key to using cocoa butter to prevent stretch marks is to apply it often and on a regular basis. If you are using cocoa butter to prevent the stretch marks that can occur with pregnancy, it’s best to begin at the start of your pregnancy, before the skin has begin to stretch at all. The natural plant oils and vitamin E in the cocoa butter can penetrate all the way to the dermis of your skin, helping to keep the collagen fibers strong, moisturized and elastic.
Massage the cocoa butter into your skin in a circular motion. Moisturizing your skin helps it to retain its elasticity, and massaging your skin improves circulation, which increases your skin’s ability to heal when collagen fibers tear. Use cocoa butter several times daily for maximum benefits in the reduction of stretch marks.
Many stretch mark creams are made primarily of cocoa butter. However, some manufacturers may add additional, beneficial moisturizing ingredients to their creams. Some of these additional ingredients include shea butter, emu oil, elastin, collagen and vitamin E.