Do any of you love belly dancing? Well, I myself am far from being a belly dancer (or any dancer, to be honest), but my elder sister is a charismatic belly dancer. Her dancing moves leave everyone in the crowd swooning. By the way, my sis gave birth to a beautiful baby girl about a year ago, and we are all so over the moon to have that little princess in our lives.
While the last few months have been great, my sister’s pregnancy and post-pregnancy phase has not been without challenges. Amidst many other difficulties, my sister also almost gave up on her passion for belly dancing. You see, like many women, she also developed stretch marks during her pregnancy, which took a hit on her self-esteem and confidence. Although these marks aren’t usually painful or harmful, they can affect a person’s emotional and mental health, impacting one’s self-image.
A 2021 research study conducted by Michigan Medicine found that the permanency of stretch marks can be a cause of embarrassment for many pregnant women or individuals and can have a negative impact on their pregnancy and quality of life.
Pregnancy is one of the most significant causes of stretch marks. However, it is not the only one. Irrespective of the cause, they can result in anxiety and depression. I know it all sounds bad. But there’s always hope, guys. If you have stretch marks or maybe you know someone who does, please know there are ways that can help you reduce and fade stretch marks. Wanna learn about those ways? Then stick around till the end of this blog post.
Stretch Marks: Causes & How to Reduce Them
I am a big-time foodie. I can basically eat anything you give me, provided it’s delicious. Unfortunately, my love for food sometimes seems to overpower my love for fashion (haven’t we all been there at some point)!
Recently, I had to go out on a brunch date, and I had the perfect outfit in mind for it – my favourite jeans paired with a red halter-neck top. Unfortunately, when I tried wearing the jeans, they got stuck (because I had gained weight). However, adamant as I was on wearing them, I stretched the jeans beyond their elasticity allowed, and let’s just say it didn’t end well. The fabric lost its elasticity and got puckered (basically, there were stretch marks on the jeans).
I guess this is somewhat similar to what happens with the skin! When the skin stretches or shrinks quickly, its elastin and collagen rupture. As your skin heals from this, it might result in lines or streaks across the skin called stretch marks. They are a type of scar and do not have the same melanin composition as healthy skin, which can result in pigmentation. They can also cause your skin to have an uneven skin tone and texture. Itchiness, irritation, sunken lines, and discoloration are common symptoms of stretch marks.
What Causes Stretch Marks?
Remember I told you how stretch scars can appear when your skin experiences extreme growth or shrinkage in the last section? Well, here are a few factors that might cause the elastin and collagen in your skin to break, resulting in stretch scars:
Pregnancy: Isn’t pregnancy a marvel? I mean, an individual brings another human being into this world. But we need to accept that pregnancy can also be physically and emotionally taxing.
The body also goes through hormonal changes during pregnancy, some of which can result in the reorganisation of collagen and elastin. Also, during pregnancy, the body and skin stretch to make space (actually a lot of space) for the developing fetus, which often results in stretch marks on the belly.
Rapid muscle growth & weight gain: Have you ever seen a weightlifting competition? Well, I have watched a few (on TV, obviously). When you look at weightlifters, do you ever wonder why many have stretch scars on their arms, thighs, or other body parts? It is because when the muscles grow, the skin has to stretch itself as per the changes in body shape & size (just like I tried to fit into my jeans by stretching them way too much).
Similarly, when you put on a lot of weight in a short period of time, it can cause tears in the inner layers of your skin, resulting in stretch marks.
Puberty: I meet many people who are under the impression that stretch marks are only experienced by adults or aged people. Well, not true! They are common in teens because of rapid growth and weight gain.
I guess we’ve talked enough about the causes of stretch marks and should now move on to discuss a few tips for reducing them (did you just say “Finally”)! Anyway, let’s dig in!
How to Fade Stretch Marks and Brighten Skin Tone
Last week was amazing for me! Among many good things, I got to see my sister back on stage as a belly dancer. I loved it, the crowd loved it, and I am sure my niece would have too if she had any idea about what her mom was doing onstage.
For the past few months, my sister has been working on boosting her self-confidence and self-acceptance. And she has also been able to reduce stretch marks and lighten skin tone using some expert-backed ways and solutions. And you can use them too!
Here’s how to fade stretch marks:
- Home Remedies: Got some lemons in your kitchen? Yes? Good! If not, go buy them.
Lemons are one of the best natural remedies for stretch marks. All you got to do is take some freshly-squeezed lemon juice and apply it to the affected areas and then rinse it off with lukewarm water. Because lemons are a rich source of vitamin C, they also help brighten skin tone and fade pigmentation that might accompany stretch scars.
And yes, massaging the affected area with warm Jojoba oil can also help fade stretch marks. Jojoba oil boosts collagen and elastin production in the body and helps restore skin elasticity.
- Creams and Lotions: Just like you have skin care products for dark circles, acne, and dehydrated skin, there are products that can help you with stretch scars too. When looking for stretch mark creams, choose something with natural ingredients. Besides lemon and jojoba oil, you can also look for other ingredients like Wheat Germ oil, Centella, and Aloe Vera.
Well, my sister has been using Blossom Kochhar Aroma Magic Wheat Germ Cream. The main ingredient, Wheat Germ, has excellent antioxidant properties that help stimulate tissue regeneration and remove stretch marks. It is also infused with Jojoba oil, Honey, vitamins A, C & E, Almond extracts, and essential oils.
Aroma Magic Wheat Germ Cream is super-moisturising and also helps brighten skin tone and reduce wrinkles. The best thing about this product is that it is all-natural and eco-friendly (definitely a bonus point for that)!
- Medical & cosmetic treatments: Some people also opt for treatments like Laser Therapy, Dermabrasion, and Microneedling. While these treatments can help reduce the appearance of stretch marks, they can also have a few side effects, including discoloration, swelling, irritation, flaky skin, etc.
- Self-tanners: Ever used a concealer for your makeup? A concealer conceals the blemishes and dark spots by blending them in with your skin, but it doesn’t help remove them. Similarly, a self-tanning lotion can help hide stretch marks by minimising the difference between their colour and your skin tone.
Stretch marks are a common skin condition, guys! While you can always resort to any of the ways mentioned above to fade stretch marks if it makes you feel better, it is also crucial to recognise that there is nothing to feel embarrassed about having them. So whether or not someone chooses to treat them should be their choice.
- Fromson, Noah. “Pregnancy Stretch Marks Cause Stress and Emotional Burden, Study Finds.” Michigan Medicine – University of Michigan, 9 Nov. 2021, https://www.michiganmedicine.org/health-lab/pregnancy-stretch-marks-cause-stress-and-emotional-burden-study-finds