Really, a cream that is supposed to magically, and almost instantly decrease stretch marks?
There are hundreds of stretch mark creams on the market today, and industry statistics show that consumers are purchasing them by the truckloads. Many are marketed to pregnant woman, or women who have recently given birth. But do stretch mark creams really work? And if so, how? Is there any one product on the market that is better than another is?
You should first understand what stretch marks are. Essentially, they are caused by your skin stretching too quickly, such as during pregnancy, extreme weight gain or even during bodybuilding. Hormonal responses are also a contributor to stretch marks. This stretching of the skin, causes the middle layer of the skins threads (the dermis) to shred, much like a piece of rope. As it shreds it slowly but surely also loses shape, and this is what causes the appearance of stretch marks. As the tiny threads of skin stretch and break, scars that are normally pink or purple are left behind. For most people, the pink and purple stretch marks eventually fade to a permanent whitish color. They are normally soft to the touch, can cause itching and pain and are most often permanent. Stretch mark creams can either be preventative, meaning to be used before stretch marks appear – or curative, for after the unsightly lines show up.
Most stretch mark creams on the market today, work best when they are applied to areas of the skin prone to stretching BEFORE the stretch marks appear. In several studies on pregnant women prevention rates of developing stretch marks were as high as 80% in control groups that utilized daily treatments of creams that contained retinoid, herbal compounds, and other important skin nourishing ingredients such as Vitamin A, E and mineral oil. It is also to important to note that many people simply inherit the probability of getting stretch marks from their DNA.
With well over 250 stretch mark creams on the market today, going by names from as casual as Tummy Honey to as technical as Striax, it can be almost impossible to decide which one will work, if any – for you. There are also immense price differences between the stretch mark creams that you can purchase over the counter to those that doctors can prescribe. Walk down any skin care aisle and you will be dizzy with promises of reducing the appearance of stretch marks to making them disappear completely.
So do these creams work? And which one should you choose? The best way to get the answer is to return to science. Cosmetic science is a booming industry, which has been necessary to separate fact from fiction when it comes to claims from products within the beauty industry. Many products will provide you with claims online and otherwise that show they were tested in laboratory studies. If you are looking at a fancy product for stretch marks that claims to have been tested, it is important to understand exactly how it has been tested. You should look for products that have been tested in independent studies by outside agencies that have no affiliation with the product. If a product claims to have done its own study with ‘conclusive’ results, you can assume that the results are slanted. So look for studies and research that has been done on many products outside of a specific company.
The next step is to understand that most of the ingredients in stretch mark creams are essentially the same. As mentioned before most have Vitamin A and E. Some of the prescription brands of stretch mark creams will have very high amounts of Vitamin A, often referred to as retinoids or retinol. This is basically a very potent anti-oxidant. They also will contain some variation of cocoa butter, which is essential to keeping skin hydrated and improving elasticity. Shea butter, or other plant based alpha hydroxy acids are also commonly used in stretch mark creams to help with cell regeneration. If you come across a product that says it uses ‘mango,’ or ‘strawberry root,’ or any other fruit based ingredient, you can bet it is simply the term they are using to describe the alpha hydroxyl acids.
Scientists and dermatologists will disclose the fact that while these creams will work to reduce the appearance of stretch marks – chances are they won’t make them disappear completely. This is because the lotions and creams only work on the outer later of the skin and cannot replenish or heal the medermis or middle layer. Most people using any sort of lotion or cream regularly on the outer layer of the skin, will see some fading and overall improvement. However, most will not make the stretch marks disappear altogether. Yet, dermatologists do confirm that using these creams is effective if it is done before the stretch marks appear.
There is also some science that indicates the constant massaging, and circular rubbing of these creams into the skin helps to scuff off dead skin and helps to improve skin regeneration, which can lead to smoother skin and reduce the outward signs of stretch marks.
If you are looking for the perfect product for you, chances are you will hear a lot of different advice from many people. If you take a look at the people in your own family, you will likely get a clear picture of what kind of stretch marks you can expect for yourself. Remember, that when it comes to stretch marks, prevention is key! As long as you choose a product that includes the above-mentioned ingredients in one form or another, chances are results in the improvement of your skin will be seen.