What are stretch marks?
Exactly what they sound like – long streaks where the skin has stretched during pregnancy, and the middle layer (the dermis) has broken, allowing the deeper layers to show through.
Not everyone gets them – a lot is down to your genetic good (or bad) luck – but around 8 or 9 in every 10 women will have them, some unlucky ones from as early as the first trimester when it seems the skin has hardly stretched!
The most common places are on the tummy, bottom, breasts and thighs. They start off as reddish-purple streaks, eventually fading to silver.
Can you prevent them?
There’s no proof you can stop them, although some mums who use anti-stretch mark oils and creams religiously over several months are convinced they’ve stopped stretch marks appearing. But there’s no way of knowing if they were ever going to get them in the first place!
Can you get rid of them?
No, not entirely. But it is possible to lessen their appearance by using a cream or oil. These moisturise your skin and can improve its elasticity.
The key thing is to use the product for a couple of months before you decide if it’s working: it takes time! Some creams should be applied 2 or even 3 times a day.
What about scars?
You can’t remove a scar completely because it’s permanent, but you can improve its appearance with a specialist scar cream or oil. Again, frequent application is the key. Some of the newer scar treatments use silicone, and are either clear adhesive strips or gels
Which product is right for you?
It all depends how alarmed you are by the thought of stretch marks and scars, or whether you can manage to view them as a badge of honour as a new mum! Your choice of cream will to a large extent depend on your budget.
A lot of mums choose to opt for a mainstream and fairly economical product such as Bio-Oil – and see how it goes. Even if it doesn’t do much for your stretch marks it will moisturise dehydrated skin. Some mums swear by these products; others say they can’t see much difference for all that effort and cost.
Most products contain vitamin E and some of the best post-pregnancy ones also have retinoids (vitamin A – but you shouldn’t use these in pregnancy as too much vitamin A can damage your unborn baby).
All oils and creams are best applied after a bath or shower.
- The key thing is to use the product for a couple of months before you decide if it’s working: it takes time!
- Some creams should be applied 2 or even 3 times a day.
- All oils and creams are best applied after a bath or shower.
- Always read the labels on any specialist scar creams and take care if you are breastfeeding to make sure they are suitable for use
How much do they cost?
A basic oil will cost around £12-£15 for 100ml. Stretch mark creams vary wildly – from £10 to upwards of £100!
Ready to buy?
Take a look at some of the popular stretch mark and scar care products below
Bio-Oil Specialist Skincare Oil
RRP: £15.27 (125ml) - Buy now
The UK's number one scar and stretchmark product is a maternity and beyond beauty-bag must have.
- Made with natural plant oils and vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin E, calendula oil, lavender oil, rosemary oil and chamomile oil as well as PurCellin oil, which is unique to Bio Oil
- Helps to improve the look of new and old scars including stretchmarks, as well as combating dry and dehydrated skin
- Non-comedogenic and will not clog the pores
- Is quickly and easily absorbed into the skin with no greasy residue
- Can be used on the face as well as the body
Why we love the Bio-Oil Specialist Skincare Oil ....
- Many mums swear by this as their go-to product to ward off stretchmarks during pregnancy – and to treat existing ones after!
- We love its light scent, and the fact it absorbs so quickly in to the skin so you don't have to wait for ages to get dressed after applying it!
- Has a lovely consistency so it glides really effortlessly over your bump, thighs and upper arms – or anywhere you are slapping it on!
- It keeps your skin super soft and hydrated as well as improving its tone and general condition
- It's won loads of awards and is often recommended by docs and surgeons to minimise scarring after operations
Bepanthen Stretch Mark Cream
RRP: £14.00 (150ml) - Buy now
A luxurious blend of broom, geranium, marjoram, lemon, orange and hazelnut oils to firm and hydrate the skin
- Can help to stimulate and firm the skin
- Leaves skin soft and supple with a satin-feel
- Can help to eliminate toxins in the skin
- Designed to prevent a spongy texture appearing on dehydrated and tired skin
- Can be used as a massage product
- Contains hazelnut oil to help maintain moisture levels in the skin
- A luxurious treat for tired legs and feet in pregnancy and beyond
Why we love the Bepanthen Stretch Mark Cream ....
- The cream is reassuringly dense and moisture-rich to the touch, so it feels like it's doing you some good from the first application!
- It is really easy to rub into your bump or massage over stretchmark 'risk' areas like the thighs, breasts and buttocks – it slides on and does not drag the skin
- It comes from a tried-and-tested brand name we all recognise and know for its baby care products
- It doesn't have any nasties in like colours or preservatives, so it won't irritate you if your skin is sensitive during pregnancy
- It can be used throughout your pregnancy and after your baby is born to keep skin soft and supple
RRP: £35.99 (20ml) - Buy now
An easy to apply silicone gel which improves the look of scarred and damaged skin
- Packed full of natural ingredients including apricot oil, grape seed oil, wheatgerm and sunflower oil
- Can be added to bath-water or used directly on skin as a massage oil
- Suitable for baby's delicate skin and as an indulgent treat for mum
- Leaves baby's skin soft and silky, and provides all day hydration on grown-up bodies
- Locks in moisture if used directly after shower or bath
Why we love the SilGel ....
- A little goes a long way – it might be quite a considered purchase money-wise, but you really do not need a lot of it
- It is recommended by plastic surgeons for scare reduction post surgery – so if it gets their vote, it gets ours, too!
- It's mega easy to apply and dries really quickly on the skin – so no doing the body-lotion dance before getting dressed!
- It's safe to use after a C-section (or any other surgery) as well as on stretchmarks or skin discolouration after pregnancy
- It's been proven to work in a clinical study – as long as you apply it continuously and as directed!
Love Boo – Super Stretchy Miracle Oil
RRP: £15.99 (20ml) - Buy now
- It is a unique blend of luxurious oils.
- The miracle oil can help regain elasticity in the skin.
- Ideal to use on damp skin as soon as you come out of the shower.
- The product contains no parabens, sulphates, TEA, petrochemicals, synthetic colours of DEA.
- Ideal to calm dry skin and ageing and can help to reduce the visibility of scars and damaged skin.
Why we love Super Stretchy Miracle Oil ....
- We love that this oil is safe for use during pregnancy and when nursing.
- We adore the fresh smell of lemon and mandarin and how these ingredients also help ward off insect bites.
- Loving the way it leaves the skin so supple after regular use.
- It’s great for helping smooth out uneven skin tone and even helps reduce the appearance of scars and damaged skin.
- We love how easily absorbed the oil is, especially when used on damp skin.
- Most exciting of all, the oil can help reduce the appearance of stretch marks with regular use.