Stretch marks after pregnancy are a reality you have to contend with, just like busy schedules and swollen ankles. Rest easy, though, because Mustela is here to help. We’ve assembled the 11 best ways to heal pregnancy stretch marks. With these simple treatments, you can focus more on your new bundle of joy than on your skin care routine.
A Brief Overview Of Pregnancy Stretch Marks
Stretch marks, officially called striae distensae (or striae gravidarum when they occur during pregnancy), are exactly what they sound like—the marks that appear on your skin when it gets stretched.
When your body rapidly grows and expands, your skin is pulled tight over the new mass that’s formed. Stretch marks are the result of your middle layer of skin or the underlying tissue tearing from being stretched so tightly. These tears become visible on the surface of your skin. While they can be unsightly and annoying, stretch marks are not harmful and don’t pose any health risks.
Of course, stretch marks are not exclusive to pregnancies. Rapid weight gain, whether through intensive muscle gain or an excessive increase in body fat, can also lead to stretch marks. Some teenagers get stretch marks if they hit a particularly potent growth spurt.
With that said, we should note that as many as 90 percent of women will develop stretch marks during pregnancy. It’s not entirely clear why some women are lucky enough to go through an entire pregnancy without developing any stretch marks. But there is evidence that shows women whose mother and/or older sisters developed stretch marks are more likely to have the problem themselves, suggesting that genetic factors are at play.
Most often, pregnancy stretch marks begin to appear in the sixth or seventh month, when the baby’s growth really spikes. They normally develop on the mom-to-be’s tummy, thighs, buttocks, hips, and chest.
There are steps you can take to minimize stretch mark formation during your pregnancy, but it’s likely that you’ll need to treat them after your baby is born, as well. If you’ve recently given birth, we’re sure you’re already well aware of this fact.
But don’t worry! There’s hope for smooth, stretch-mark free skin. Follow the 11 easy steps below to heal your pregnancy stretch marks in no time.
Tips For Healing Your Pregnancy Stretch Marks
1) Massage With Oil
Massaging the skin of your hips, belly, and bust is one of the best ways to treat stretch marks after pregnancy. A gentle massage increases blood flow and breaks up the scar tissue that causes stretch marks. We recommend using a healing oil, like Mustela's Stretch Marks Prevention Oil, to reduce friction during the massage and give your skin the vitamins and minerals it needs to repair itself.
Apply some oil to the palms of your hands and then gently massage your belly. Focus on this area for two minutes, reapplying oil as needed. When the two minutes are up, move to another area with stretch marks and repeat the process.
For extra healing, you can try soaking in a warm bath for ten minutes or taking a warm shower before your massage to soften your skin and open up your pores.
2) Apply A Specialized Cream
Specialized creams, like Mustela's Stretch Marks Recovery Serum and Body Firming Gel, are the simplest way to treat stretch marks after pregnancy. Their unique formulas—which include natural ingredients like avocado peptides, sunflower seed oil, and beeswax—help heal stretch marks in the deeper layers of your skin while keeping the upper layers soft and supple.
One application in the morning and one application in the evening provides continuous healing for pregnancy stretch marks.
3) Stay Hydrated To Treat Pregnancy Stretch Marks
We’re probably not the first to tell you how important it is to drink plenty of water. It’s cliché, but it’s true! The water you drink provides your skin with the hydration necessary for it to remain healthy.
When skin cells have an ample supply of water, they’re able to function properly and repair themselves more efficiently. This means your skin is better able to recover from pregnancy stretch marks. We suggest drinking at least eight cups of water every day to keep your skin cells healthy and hydrated!
4) Keep Your Skin Moisturized
Moisture is one of the most important components of a healthy skin care routine. It keeps your skin smooth and bright, helps maintain your skin’s protective outer layer, and preserves skin elasticity. As an added bonus, it helps heal stretch marks, too.
Medical professionals recommend choosing your skin care products carefully when you’re still breastfeeding. Some moisturizers contain ingredients that may find their way into your breast milk. The effect of these ingredients on newborns is unknown, so it’s best to avoid using these skin care products altogether.
In particular, avoid Retinoid and products with Retinol, Retinol-A, or some other variant of this compound. Parabens are also unsafe. Always try to choose skin care products made from natural ingredients.
Using a hypoallergenic soothing cream, like Mustela's Soothing Moisturizing Balm, in the morning and evening is an easy and effective way to ensure your skin is adequately moisturized. The healing cream uses powerful ingredients like ceramides to strengthen stretch-marked skin, alleviate itchiness, and boost elasticity.
5) Exercise To Improve Skin & Muscle Tone
Exercise can be a fun and effective method for repairing stretch marks after pregnancy. Even light exercise, such as walking and yoga, can strengthen the muscles of your hips, thighs, and belly (the areas where stretch marks most often appear). Strengthening those muscles helps to tighten loose, stretch-marked skin and promotes faster healing.
Any exercise will do, so pick one you enjoy. There are so many options to choose from, such as swimming, walking, running, weight training, yoga, and pilates. Depending on your fitness level and the exercise(s) you choose, we suggest starting with one day per week and gradually increasing to two, three, four, or even five days per week.
6) Rejuvenate Skin With Home Remedies
Egg White Peel
Egg whites contain a whole host of beneficial nutrients, such as protein, potassium, riboflavin, and magnesium. These nutrients are great for the health of your skin and can be used to heal pregnancy stretch marks. Here’s how they work:
- Protein maintains skin elasticity, tissue repair, and growth.
- Potassium puts moisture back into your skin and keeps it from evaporating.
- Riboflavin eliminates toxic free radicals in your skin.
- Magnesium delays the aging process and keeps skin looking youthful and radiant.
The easiest way to direct these healing nutrients to stretch-marked skin is to whip up an egg white peel. Here’s how to do it.
- In a small bowl, separate 2 egg whites from their yolks. Note that 2 egg whites are enough for an area about the size of your face. Use more or fewer egg whites depending on the area you need to cover.
- Whisk the egg whites until they’re foamy.
- Wash your face with lukewarm water and a gentle cleanser.
- Apply the whipped egg whites to stretch-marked-skin.
- Let the egg whites dry for 15 minutes.
- Rinse off the egg white peel with warm water.
- Pat skin dry with a soft towel.
Your skin will feel tighter and more radiant, and the nutrients will penetrate deep to heal stubborn stretch marks.
Aloe Vera is widely known for its sunburn healing properties. But it’s not just for sunburns. Aloe vera promotes healing in general and soothes your skin. And we’re not talking about the kind of aloe vera gel you typically find at your local store. We’re talking about fresh gel — the gel from the actual aloe vera plant.
Follow these instructions to treat your stretch marks using aloe vera gel:
- Rub the gel directly over your stretch marks.
- Leave the aloe vera gel on for 15 minutes and then wash it off with lukewarm water.
- Apply twice per day as needed.
Honey is definitely a product you want to have on hand. Did you know that honey has antiseptic properties that are known to reduce the appearance of stretch marks? But for the honey to be effective, it needs to be raw — meaning unfiltered and unprocessed — and organic.
Here are the steps to follow for a honey scrub:
- Apply honey to a small cloth.
- Place the cloth over your stretch marks. Leave it on your targeted area until the honey dries.
- Rinse off the honey using warm water.
Prepare a honey scrub by mixing honey with salt and glycerin (a type of natural compound in the form of a liquid found in animal- and plant-derived fats). Apply the scrub to your stretch marks and leave it on until it dries. Rinse it off using warm water.
Note: You can buy glycerin at your local grocery store.
Sugar...who would have known this product can be used for stretch marks? We’re sure you have it sitting in your pantry as you read this. It’s a great exfoliator for removing dead skin cells and can help lighten your stretch marks.
Here’s how to make and use a sugar scrub:
- Mix one tablespoon of sugar with almond oil (or another carrier oil, such as olive oil) and add a few drops of lemon juice.
- Use this mixture as a scrub before you take a shower.
- Do this every day for a month.
Since you now have some lemon juice on hand after making your sugar scrub, try this home remedy next. Lemons are known for lightening the pigmentation of your skin. As you’ve probably noticed, skin discoloration often accompanies stretch marks.
Lemon juice is naturally acidic, making it a useful agent in healing acne, pimples, and other skin conditions. These acidic properties also help reduce the appearance of stretch marks and speed up the healing process.
Follow these steps to make the most of your lemon juice:
- Rub fresh lemon juice on your stretch marks. (Again, not the lemon juice you’ve bought in a bottle, but preferably the juice from a freshly squeezed lemon).
- Leave it on for about 10 minutes to let your skin absorb the juice.
- Rinse off the lemon juice using warm water.
- Apply every day for optimal results.
After you’ve tried each home remedy, don’t forget to follow up with Mustela’s Stretch Marks Recovery Serum to lock in moisture and help reduce the appearance of recent stretch marks.
7) Ice Stretch Marks To Reduce Inflammation
As you know by now, stretch marks are tiny scars that form as your skin stretches. As they heal, these tiny scars can cause inflammation and swelling, which can make stretch marks look even worse. Rubbing ice on stretch-marked skin can help relieve and reduce this swelling and inflammation.
A reusable ice pack that is stored in the freezer makes it quick and easy to apply cold whenever the opportunity presents itself. If you don’t have an ice pack, try putting some ice cubes in a Ziploc bag.
Wrap the cold pack in a dish towel or pillow case so that the ice doesn’t come directly in contact with your skin. Start with your belly. Hold it on your skin for up to ten minutes, then move to your thigh and hold the cold pack on your skin for another ten minutes. Repeat this process for all areas of your body that have stretch marks.
8) Exfoliate Once Per Week
Your skin does a great job of repairing and rejuvenating all by itself. You can help the process, though, by exfoliating stretch-marked skin once per week. Exfoliating helps remove the top layer of dead skin cells and promotes growth and healing in the deeper layers of skin where stretch marks form.
We suggest a natural product like baking soda or witch hazel. Both products are gentle on your skin, so they won’t cause dryness, irritation, or inflammation. The best time to exfoliate is in the morning after your skin has had time to complete its natural reparative process. Pick one day each week to help heal pregnancy stretch marks by exfoliating the skin on your belly, hips, thighs, and bust.
9) Eat Well
Keeping a healthy diet is a crucial component of your overall well-being. It helps you keep your body slim, your mind sharp, and your skin healthy. This includes repairing any stretch marks caused during pregnancy!
Wondering what changes you need to make to your diet? Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is always a good place to start. Avoid junk food, fried foods, and anything processed. Eat meat and fatty foods in moderation. Keep an eye on your sodium intake.
Finally, cut sugary drinks, like soft drinks and colas, from your diet, and try to replace them with green tea or water. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to healthy eating habits!
Of course, eating well isn’t just good for getting rid of stretch marks. It’s also extremely important when you’re breastfeeding. Try to stick to the healthiest breastfeeding diet possible to make sure your loved one is getting all the nutrients they need.
It can seem difficult to get all of your daily nutrients from your normal diet, so you may be considering taking supplements or a daily vitamin pill. That’s perfectly fine! Just make sure that you choose the right one. You may continue taking your daily prenatal supplements, or you can switch to a postnatal vitamin, which is packed with vitamin D.
If you’re looking for an ordinary daily nutrition supplement, pick one that has 100 percent of your daily recommended values of each vitamin and mineral, but no more than that. Some supplements have, for example, 500 percent of your daily amount of certain nutrients, and you should avoid those if you’re breastfeeding.
Just continue eating lots of fruits and veggies, and you’ll be as healthy as can be! And if you have questions about which supplements are safe to take while you’re breastfeeding, talk to your doctor right away.
10) Relax To Help Your Skin Heal
When you get stressed, your body releases hormones that can interfere with your skin’s natural healing and regulation process. This slows the healing process of your stretch marks after pregnancy.
You can avoid these issues by taking some time each day to relax and unwind. This helps to reduce the hormones that could prevent your stretch marks from healing. Your method of relaxing could be as simple as listening to your favorite music or reading a book.
Meditation is also a great way to relax after a hard day. Find a comfortable position, take deep breaths, and let your thoughts go. A guided yoga class can be an easy way to combine relaxation and exercise to help heal stretch marks after pregnancy.
11) Give It Time!
We know how eager new moms can be to get rid of their pregnancy stretch marks after giving birth. Unfortunately, it takes some time! Stretch marks don’t simply go away—your skin slowly repairs the tears that your pregnancy caused and, over time, the marks begin to fade. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it will happen!
Reduce Pregnancy Stretch Marks And Restore Smooth Skin
So just relax and stick with all of the treatment options we’ve described here. The tips above are not magical cures, but they are effective, and you will see results soon enough.
And if you’d like to get as close to a magical cure as possible, skin care products such as Mustela's Bust Firming Serum, Stretch Marks Prevention Oil, or Soothing Moisturizing Balm are the quickest and most effective way to repair, rejuvenate, and restore your skin. Choose any of Mustela’s products and you’ll be on your way to smooth skin in no time!