First things first, although social media wants you to believe otherwise, stretch marks are 100 percent normal. In fact, many researchers estimate that up to 80% of people have them. And if you have a bun in the oven, this number bumps up to 90%.
In other words, stretch marks are a way of life, and whether you love 'em or hate 'em, they're a skin trait that the majority of us will experience at some point or another — this is especially true if they run in your family.
Yup, it's true — stretch marks are genetic. So if your mama or sister has them, you're more likely to get them, too. But don't worry; there are many things you can do to reduce the appearance of these marks.
Interested in learning more? 8 Sheep Organics is here to help! Read on as we explore these common marks to uncover the best tips and tricks to kick them to the curb.
What Exactly Are Stretch Marks?
Medically known as "striae," stretch marks are a form of scar that develops when the skin stretches or shrinks quickly. Simply put, the abrupt change causes the skin's elastin and collagen to rupture — and as a result, stretch marks can appear.
As mentioned a little earlier, these scars are very common. They can appear just about anywhere but are most common on the stomach, breasts, hips, upper arms, thighs, and buttocks.
Stretch marks aren't harmful or dangerous, nor do they cause any medical problems. Similar to other scars, though, they can be permanent.
What Do Stretch Marks Look Like?
Like how no two bodies are exactly the same, the same rule applies to stretch marks. This is because they can vary in appearance depending on a few things like how long you've had them, what caused them, where they're located on your body, and the type of skin you have.
These little lines tend to have a different color and texture than healthy skin. Their color can range from light purple to dark red and light gray to pink with a smooth or bumpy texture. The marks initially develop as wrinkly, raised streaks that eventually fade and flatten before changing to a silvery color over time.
Who's More Likely To Get Stretch Marks?
Some people seem to get stretch marks at the slightest sign of weight gain, whereas others have resilient skin that can resist any kind of stretching. What gives?
It can be especially frustrating that your bestie is seemingly immune to stretch marks while you tend to get them as if they're going out of style. Your mom and dad are likely to blame for this.
Similar to cellulite, genetics can play a big role in determining your risk for stretch marks. This is because it's a trait that is often passed down that leaves the skin lacking elastin — the essential connective tissue needed to allow your skin to stretch without tearing.
While there may be some things you can do to influence your chances of developing these scars, it's unlikely that you'll be able to avoid the hereditary factor altogether.
In addition to genetics, other factors that may increase your likelihood of getting stretch marks include:
- Being female
- Going through puberty
- Rapid weight gain
- Corticosteroid use
- Using anabolic steroids
- Certain diseases and conditions
- Weight training
- And, of course, being pregnant.
What Causes Stretch Marks During Pregnancy?
Most pregnant women will get stretch marks — especially the younger moms-to-be, likely because their skin is firmer.
Pregnancy is a whirlwind. One moment you're admiring your flat tummy, and the next, you're carrying 30 extra pounds and rocking an adorable baby bump. Growing that fast can cause the elastic fibers just under the surface of your skin to break, resulting in the infamous sign of pregnancy — stretch marks.
Genetics and your growing little one aren't the only culprits behind these common scars. Stretch marks are also triggered by increased levels of certain pregnancy hormones, namely estrogen and relaxin.
Together, these hormones attract more fluids into the skin, which tends to relax the bonds between collagen fibers, ultimately making it much easier for tearing to occur when the skin stretches to accommodate the growth of a developing fetus.
Any Tips and Tricks To Soothe Stretch Marks?
We have quite a few! Here are some helpful tips to combat stretch marks:
Tip #1: Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
Have we already mentioned moisturize? Although there's very little evidence that suggests a good moisturizer can completely kick stretch marks to the curb, it might be able to reduce their appearance. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends gently massaging a hydrating moisturizer into new stretch marks over several weeks.
Not sure which moisturizer to buy? Check out our Helichrysum Belly Balm. This all-natural formula is made fresh with nourishing ingredients like Rosehip Seed Oil, Argan Oil, Vitamin E Oil, and Helichrysum Essential Oil which helps to minimize the appearance of stretch marks and scarring.
Tip #2: Book a Massage
While it's true that a massage can't cure torn skin, it can speed up the healing process by boosting blood circulation. This means the stretch marks become silver or white much faster and, as a result, less visible.
Pregnant? Opt for a prenatal massage with an experienced masseuse to ensure the safety of your growing babe.
Tip #3: Stay Hydrated
Despite what some people may think, chugging buckets of water won't directly banish your stretch marks, but staying hydrated does help to improve the overall appearance of the skin.
To keep your skin healthy and steer clear of dehydration, experts recommend drinking at least eight glasses of H2O per day. If you're expecting a small bundle within the next nine months, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests bumping your fluid intake up to 12 cups.
Tip #4: Exfoliate Your Skin
A simple way to soothe stretch marks is through regular exfoliation. This sloughs away excess dead skin from the body to help new healthy skin to appear. Removing the layer of dead skin cells from your scars can also help other skin treatments to penetrate more deeply and work faster.
There are a ton of exfoliants on the market, but when it comes to stretch marks, we recommend our Hydrating Belly Scrub. Formulated with clean pregnancy-safe ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, and vitamin E, this unbelievably gentle scrub leaves the belly feeling soft and silky smooth.
To exfoliate your baby bump, gently massage the scrub onto your wet skin in a circular motion before rinsing off with warm water and patting dry with a clean towel. Yup, it’s that easy.
So, are stretch marks genetic, you ask?
Yes, there is a natural genetic link to stretch marks. This means that if your mom or sister had them, there's a pretty good chance that you'll get them, too.
That said, there are steps you can take to reduce the chances of getting stretch marks, and minimize their appearance *if* you do get them.
And if you ask us, we think these scars are completely normal, and are what make us unique.
Stretch marks also remind us that we're strong miracle workers capable of creating human life inside of our bodies.
Whatever you do, don't be ashamed of your tiger stripes — we're all different, and that's something to celebrate!
What causes stretch marks during pregnancy? | ACOG
How much water should I drink during pregnancy? | ACOG
Stretch Marks - StatPearls | NCBI Bookshelf
Genome-Wide Association Analysis Implicates Elastic Microfibrils in the Development of Nonsyndromic Striae Distensae | Journal of Investigative Dermatology
Evaluation of Various Therapeutic Measures in Striae Rubra | PMC