Everything You Need To Know About Stretch Marks And How To Look After Them

We ask the experts your biggest stretch marks related questions

stretch marks

by Remy Farrell |

Let's talk about stretch marks. First things first, stretch marks are normal. They're something that most of us see on our bodies every day. Whatever your relationship with your stretch marks, whether you love them, you're self-conscious about them or you couldn't care less about them they're a skin trait that the majority of us will experience at some point in our lives and yet for years they've had a bad rep. Thanks to social media the last two years has seen a huge move towards celebrating our skin and our bodies for their resilience and strength and redefining things that historically society has taught us to see as 'flaws'. Stretch marks have been a huge part of this movement and slowly but surely we're readjusting our relationship with them for the better.

Demi Lovato, Ashley Graham, Chrissy Teigen, and Khloe Kardashian have all taken to social media to speak about and showcase their stretch marks recently and emphasised the fact that they are owning their 'tiger stripes'. Then there are artist Sara Shakeel's glistening images (see below). These went viral and for good reason. So let's take a deeper dive into stretch marks. How and why do they come about? And how can we look after them?

What Causes Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks occur after periods of growth. We're talking teenage growth spurts, the changes to your body involved in pregnancy and so on. Stretch marks can occur anywhere but are most common on the thighs, boobs, legs and bums too, essentially the areas most susceptible to rapid changes in size.

'Stretch marks develop when our skin stretches', says Georgina Davies, National Training Manager of pregnancy skincare brand Mama Mio. 'The abrupt change causes the collagen and elastin, which support our skin, to rupture. And the weakened support can then cause a tear to the top layer of your skin, which will initially it looks reddish or purpley in colour, that’s actually just blood vessels showing through the thinner top layer of your skin.'

Over time you will notice that these reddish, purple marks slowly calm and change in tone as healing occurs beneath the surface.

Are Pregnancy Stretch Marks Any Different And How Long Do They Last?

In exactly the same way, your body will undergo quick and considerable change during pregnancy to accommodate your bump. Founder of Mum Bub Hub Nyree Adams points out 'During pregnancy in particular, hormones can soften the fibres of your skin, making it more prone to stretch marks. Though stretch marks are usually genetic, if you wish to make moves to ward off stretch marks during pregnancy you can work on nourishing your skin from the inside with vitamin C, D and omega-3 rich foods, which promote collagen and tissue production. This helps keep skin strong and elastic and accommodate changes in shape more easily.'

Georgina adds 'Hydration and omegas are our top recommendation when it comes to caring for your skin during pregnancy. Omegas are extremely important, not only for the growing baby but for the mother's skin as well. You usually get omegas through foods but they work well when applied topically to the skin too. All of our Mama Mio products, with the exception of Keep Calm Nipple Balm, are packed with our Omega Rich Skin Stretch Complex; 3 powerful ingredients, Avocado Oil, inch Oil and Argan Oil, which are all clinically proven to increase the skin's elasticity and moisture levels. I’d recommend starting to prep your skin as early as possible with products like this, from 12 weeks into your pregnancy (or earlier if you’d like) and onwards if you want to improve the elasticity of your skin.'

How Should I Look After My Stretch Marks?

For those who do want to lessen the appearance of their stretch marks there are a number of options out there. If you want to spend a little more there are treatments on the market like laser removal, microdermabrasion, and micro needling, which all promise to have an effect. In our opinion though, the most budget-friendly and gentle means of reducing the appearance of stretch marks is to encourage collagen production. Nyree explains that 'massaging the skin with a stretch mark oil or cream can help to prevent stretch marks occurring, and also minimise their external appearance.'

Shop: Our Edit Of The Best Stretch-Mark-Friendly And Overall Skin-Loving Products To Buy Now

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SHOP NOW: The Best Products To Look After Stretch Marks

Secret Saviours, The Stretch Mark Prevention Full-Briefs Kit, £72
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This 3 step kit includes a natural and beautifully scented day gel, night cream (packed with collagen-boosting Centella Asiatica) and the ultra supportive brief to gently grip the skin and elevate pressure as your little one grows. The packaging is all sustainably made and comes in a perfect gift box – ideal for pregnant friends or the ultimate self gifting. After all, you deserve it.

The Best Products To Look After Stretch Marks
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Mama Mio's vegan and cruelty free pregnancy Tummy Butter formula is designed to increase skin elasticity and moisturise, helping nourish growing bumps. Coconut and almond oils keep skin supple and Shea butter locks in moisture. 'Use something really effective like our most loved Tummy Rub Butter, massage it in twice a day from above the boobs, to below the bum, and all the way around! If you prefer a richer texture or something more indulgent you can switch to the Tummy Rub Oil at night for a more relaxing experience.' Georgina Davies, Mama Mio.Best for: Expectant mums to use throughout pregnancy and beyond.

The Best Products To Look After Stretch Marks
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Massage this lightweight oil into damp skin to alleviate the feeling tightness."Nourishing Skin Oil was created with new and expectant mothers in mind. The specially formulated blend of deeply nourishing plant oils includes Baobab, Buriti, Murula and Rosehip Oils to build the skin's strength and help keep it soft and supple so that it retains epidermal elasticity. The lightweight formula quickly absorbs into the skin without a greasy feeling, leaving your skin beautifully hydrated, nourished and glowing.' Nyree AdamsBest for: Although designed for use during pregnancy, the blend of Boabab, Camelia, Marula and sweet almond oil is also good for any type of skin that needs a little extra TLC.

The Best Products To Look After Stretch Marks
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With over 400 skincare awards since its release in 1987, Bio Oil's classic formula gently works to nourish skin and balance the appearance of uneven skin tone, whilst encouraging elasticity, and improving skin texture. Best for: Scars, stretch marks, and dehydrated skin.

The Best Products To Look After Stretch Marks
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Susanne Kaufman's body serums are packed full of antioxidants and hydrating oils. Massage into damp skin to lock in moisture, maintain lustre and even reduce the appearance of bruising if that's your M.O. Best for: Indulgent moments of self-care and to nourish from head to toe.

The Best Products To Look After Stretch Marks
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Take the time to massage this rich balm into skin daily to reduce the appearance of stretch marks if that's what you're after and encourage skin restoration. The creamy formula is rich in fatty acid oils and antioxidants and soaks into skin easily without leaving a greasy residue. Best for: Dry skin.

The Best Products To Look After Stretch Marks
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Pai's dynamic duo takes care of skin around the clock, with a hydrating cream for the day, and a nourishing body oil for the night. The addition of pumpkin and pomegranate oils work to plump and firm skin.Best for: Healing skin, reviews suggest it has even helped skin recover after trauma.

The Best Products To Look After Stretch Marks
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A gentle moisturiser for all skin types.Best for: Those wanting to calm the redness of stretch marks.

[READ MORE: Ashley Graham Shares Her Stretch Marks In Empowering Instagram Post](http://Ashley Graham Shares Her Stretch Marks In Empowering Instagram Post)

READ MORE: 'Our Bodies Are Our-Ride-Or-Die': Jameela Jamil On The Journey To Self-Love

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