Until pretty recently, stretch marks (aka striae, in scientific terms) were not really a topic of discussion—unless it was maybe with your best friend—until trailblazers like Chrissy Teigen were brave enough to bare their own and start the conversation.
Now, if you want to learn how to get rid of stretch marks and take good care of your skin, it’s totally fine, but you need to know that that they’re not something to be embarrassed by. In fact, if you had any doubt that you were alone in this, just know that a whopping 80% of women worldwide are estimated to have stretch marks.
So where do these marks come from? The lines tend to pop up on your skin when you lose or gain weight very quickly and stretch the skin, often during a growth spurt or pregnancy (hence why women are more prone to them than men).
“The skin stretches so quickly that the collagen and elastic tissue are damaged, leading to the characteristic line-like appearance of the skin,” says Joshua Zeichner, a New York City–based dermatologist.
Now, if these “stripes” are bothering you and you want to smooth out your skin, there are some remedies to try, although most may just reduce the visibility of them rather than eradicate them completely (which is totally fine). Read on to see how to get rid of stretch marks, from at-home treatment to in-office procedures.
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
When it comes to treating any type of condition, start at square one. It’s crucial to regularly moisturize your skin, says Zeichner. Calming body oils or lotions soothe inflammation, lessening the redness that comes with stretch marks. Since irritation is often what draws one’s eye to these marks, they’ll be less visible.
Try a retinoid cream
“The number one topical agent that has been shown to have some efficacy is a retinoid like Retin-A or Tazorac,” says dermatologist Neil Sadick of Sadick Dermatology in New York City. Retinoid creams are often what you apply to your face to fend off wrinkles, and they can help your skin heal when it comes to stretch marks. They’re particularly effective in early cases of striae, according to a study.
Use a homemade sugar scrub
We’re all about a natural treatment, if possible. Although doctors sometimes use in-office microdermabrasion to treat patient stretch marks, you can also do your own form of sugar microdermabrasion at home. Exfoliate with a mixture of 1 cup of sugar with 1/4 cup of almond or coconut oil—leave the scrub on for 8 to 10 minutes in the shower a few times a week, then rinse it off.
Apply lemon juice
Lemon juice is high in vitamin C and thus is able to increase the amount of collagen in the skin. It also contains natural fruit acids that can help with redness. Begin by exfoliating, then squeeze some fresh lemon juice directly onto the skin, rub it in with a circular motion, and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes before wiping it off with cold water.
Get a laser treatment
As a last resort, laser treatment is an option. Zeichner says that some lasers, like the Vbeam, lessen the redness of the marks, but the results may not be forever (however, these lasers tend to have the most data to support their effectiveness). Other lasers, like the Fraxel, are out there, including those that put teeny, tiny holes in your skin to lay down new collagen and heal the affected area, says Zeichner.
Do you have any tips for how to get rid of stretch marks? Be sure to share with us in the comments if you have any skin-smoothing tips. Up next: the truth about melatonin.