What you can do to prevent [or limit] them during pregnancy.
Before we discuss how to manage our body's natural response to the stretching of our skin, I want to be clear about one thing: Everyone has stretch marks, and you are genetically predisposed (it's in your DNA) to how easily you get them.
Now, we can begin.
What are stretch marks?
Stretch marks are long, narrow streaks or lines that develop on the surface of the body (typically the belly, thighs, hips, breasts, upper arms, and lower back) as a result of sudden stretching of the skin. They can be white, red, pink, purple, or some combination of those colors. Stretch marks are extremely common, and anyone can get them, although they tend to be more common in women.
Stretch marks happen when the skin is pulled by rapid growth, stretching due to weight gain or pregnancy, or weight loss. Although the skin is fairly elastic, when it is overstretched, the normal production of collagen- the major protein that makes up the connective tissue in your skin- is disrupted. As a result, scars called stretch marks may form.
Debunking stretch mark myths.
MYTH 1: Rubbing your pregnant belly with cocoa butter with prevent stretch marks from forming.
No amount of lotion or oil rubbed into the skin can prevent the formation of stretch marks. It really depends on the woman’s genes, skin elasticity and collagen levels. Although stretch marks are not preventable, lotions and oils are great moisturizers for hydrating the skin.
Note: There are many creams available on the market that claim they reduce the appearance of stretch marks, or prevent them. Don't get drawn in by these empty promises! In fact, there is very little research proving that any of these creams (or their individual ingredients) work. The bottom line is, stretch mark creams/oils/butters are not a miracle product despite how some brands advertise them.
MYTH 2: Only overweight women will develop stretch marks.
False, false false. Sure, weight gain can influence the amount of stretch marks you get, but you can also get stretch marks from pregnancy (90% of women get stretch marks during this time), muscle growth through weight training, and also from losing weight quickly. And remember, it is pretty much all down to genetics when it comes to stretch marks.
MYTH 3: Stretch marks last forever.
Yes and no. Besides pricey laser treatments, the best remedy for stretch marks is time. You can support the process by incorporating regular exercise (especially strength training), adequate hydration, collagen-boosting foods, and clean skincare.
What you CAN do, if you feel like you need to do something.
Hahaha, can you tell that I'm a taurus?
I have to preface this next part by saying you don’t need to prevent, remove or reduce the appearance of stretch marks. You are beautiful with or without them, and they represent the journey you went through to get where you are today.
Here are some of my favorite self care tools that boost skin health, and MIGHT help reduce the likelihood or appearance of stretch marks:
TOOL 1: Collagen
As we age, we produce less and less collagen (the thing that makes our skin youthful and bouncy). Taking a high-quality collagen supplement daily is crucial in providing the building blocks for our body to rebuild lost collagen not only in our skin, but also in our hair, nails, bones, connective tissues, and gut. I love adding Primal Kitchen Collagen to my morning coffee or smoothie, and it's so easy!
TOOL 2: Hydration
Staying hydrated is an inside job. Drink plenty of filtered water throughout the day to support body processes, promote detox, and keep your skin cells plump and healthy. Get a fun silicon-covered glass water bottle and start drinking!
TOOL 3: Massage
Time to rub-a-dub-dub your body! Massage boosts circulation. The more blood available to tissue, the better cellular nutrient delivery and waste removal- two processes that are integral in tissue growth, and potentially decreasing the visibility of stretch marks. Make sure you use a clean body oil when massaging your skin to prevent microtears and pulling. My favorite fragrance-free, clean dry body oil- meaning it absorbs quickly without a greasy shine- is from Hugh & Grace.
These are all great options for taking care of your largest organ- your skin- but your best tool is body love and acceptance. 💛
Are you interested in building your confidence muscles through holistic nutrition, wellness and mindfulness coaching? Book your first 1:1 session and let's get the ball rolling together! CLICK HERE!