Monthly Archives: March 2014

More Delicious Picks From the Fridge: Stretch Mark Edition

PicRefrigeratorBySamsungtomorrow

You’d be surprised how much beauty is in here. Image: samsungtomorrow

Hungry for more all-natural beauty tips? Today we’ve got delicious picks to combat stretch marks…straight from your own pantry.

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Remember the last time we ducked into the fridge to discover great anti-wrinkle items for pennies?

Well, lately I’ve been thinking about my stretch marks. (Oh come on. Who DOESN’T sit around dreamily wondering about her stretch marks? Just me…? Okay. I’m not embarrassed or anything now.)

I mean I understand the conventional wisdom on stretch marks. Over 85% of all women have them, once you’ve got ‘em they’re here to stay, they’re a badge of honor, yadda yadda.

But seriously…if we can uncover natural items to combat wrinkles and dark spots, why can’t we find a few to deal with stretch marks?

After all, like other skin issues, stretch marks result from damage. Technically, as far as my research tells me, stretch marks are scars caused by tiny breaks in the skin. And though scars are notoriously hard to combat, the skin is a self-repairing organ.

So (you know what’s coming) I did a little research. And yes, I tried these methods. This has taken me some time to compile as I wanted to give each a couple of weeks before I gave it a thumbs up. (There were a few that didn’t pass the test – look for “Stretch Mark Removal Myths” in the future.)

Hope this helps other natural mommies out there who love their children and loved their pregnancies – but the stretch marks and plastic surgeons, not so much.

1. Lemon Juice

picLemonsByrichard_northI already knew that it lightened hair and was historically used to fade sun spots, so I don’t know why I didn’t consider that lemon juice might fade stretch marks. In fact, the citric acid in lemon juice (and other foods) is well known for its lightening properties.

Obviously this will only work for the dark color of stretch marks. I also have what I like to call “wrinklies” (eughhhhhhh) and don’t get me started on the little pooch. But we’re talking about the deep reddish/purplish coloring alone here.

Yes, I did notice a slight fade in the color of my darkest stretch marks. I began to notice it after a week or so. After two weeks, that was about it – I didn’t “fade” any more. IMPORTANT: Do NOT use lemon juice on your skin undiluted. It is drying, irritating an may leave you with a case of the unbearable itchies.

What I did: I squeezed the juice of one lemon and kept the excess in the fridge. I added ½ tsp. of the juice daily to 2 T. of my favorite lotion (I chose a cocoa butter one just because it feels so nice). I mixed well and applied.

Do this only ONCE a day only to minimize the possibility of irritation.

2. Potato Juice

picPotatoesShreddedBymrjoroI know, I know, get OUT. But seriously. Potato has amino acids and constituents that fade dark areas and also stimulate the skin to produce newer, fresher (and generally, prettier) cells.

My potato juice method was slow. Very slow. But it did really soften the skin and somehow made the stretch marks seem less noticeable. I’m not certain it faded the actual color of them. I have a feeling this is a gentler method and as with many gentler methods, takes longer than smacking your skin issues over the head with the stronger stuff. I was okay with that.

What I did: I grated one yellow potato (I don’t believe the type of potato you use – yellow, white or red – matters for this process) into a bowl. I didn’t peel it first, I just grated the entire thing. You could also use a food processor for this. I then transferred the potato shavings into a colander and pressed down to get the juice out. Actually, your potatoes will be very “juicy” just from grating them.

I took the juice and soaked cotton balls in it, then dabbed the soaked cotton balls onto my stretch marks. Watch out – this can get messy! I wore my bathing suit for this process. It will dry quickly and will feel a little “tight.” I left it on for 20-30 minutes per session, then rinsed it off with a washcloth.

3. Aloe Vera

Aloe, Aloe, AloeAloe has been used for centuries, including medically for burns, so I felt it had some non-anecdotal, real-science heft behind it. We use aloe a lot in our house, for everything from cuts and scrapes to that little bit I like to put in my hair to keep it slicked back (darned errant baby hairs).

Theoretically, aloe may stimulate cell growth as well.

What I did: I used 100% aloe vera gel. It’s also available as a juice, which is thicker than you’d think a juice would be, so I can’t see why you couldn’t use either. IMPORTANT: If you use the actual leaves, scrape off the green/yellow part and ONLY use the translucent non-colored gel. The greenish-yellow portion can irritate skin.

I dabbed the aloe on my stretch marks twice a day. It did dry and “curl” off in spots, so I washed off the first application before putting on the second. For the most part, this method seemed to aid in the texture, rather than the color, of my stretch marks. When I stopped using it, the effects disappeared, so if you choose this method, make it part of your regular skin care routine.

4. Brown Sugar Scrub

PicBrownSugarBylas-initiallyAhhh! This was (and remains) far and away my favorite from-the-fridge anti-stretch mark method. In fact, I continue to use it about once a week just for the luxury of it.

The activity of a brown sugar scrub is in sloughing off old skin cells and revealing new ones. In addition, just the action of removing the dead skin stimulates the skin to produce new cells at a faster rate. This means healthier, more active cells and potentially, smoother skin. I can say that my “wrinklies” seem more “planed” and smooth using this awesome method.

What I did: I took 1/8 c. brown sugar and placed it in a bowl. I added 1 T. (measured) water and mixed it together with my fingers. Then I lay on a bath towel and gently rubbed it into my stretch marks, using a slow circular motion outward. You may need more if you’re covering a larger area. I was spot-treating in just one area while concurrently testing out the lemon juice in another.

Rub like this for 3-5 minutes on each area. Afterward, you’ll want a shower – wet sugar is very sticky. Follow up with a great moisturizer.

So What’s the Bottom Line?

All of the above methods worked to some degree in either lightening the appearance of stretch marks or smoothing the puckered skin. They didn’t blast the marks like a chemical preparation might, but if you’re looking to go the natural route, I’d recommend any or all of them.

It’s doubtful that any of these methods can compete with such biggies as Retin-A, glycolic acid or dermabrasion, so if you’re not hooked on all-natural, you may want to give those a try. In the meantime, I’m loving my skin care routine – and the skin itself – much more with these yummy spa-like methods.

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Tips For Stretch Marks

When I was nine years old, I watched my mother’s pregnancy with awe – and a little “eew.” Pulling down that sexy pouch they used to sell (Mom had to sew it into her regular jeans), she happily showed me the evidence of my growing brother.

Unwittingly, she showed me more than that.

“What are THOSE?” I asked with all the tact of a fourth-grader, pointing at the reddish-purple wiggly lines at her waist.

“Those are stretch marks,” she answered. “Trust me, some day you’ll be proud to wear them as well.”

Oh no I won’t, I thought, but Mom was right in her prediction  – with my own pregnancy I lost the genetic lotto, inherited my mother’s non-elastic skin and wound up marked in places I didn’t even know could stretch.

And no. I’m not happy to have them. Happy to have my son? Over the moon. Glad for a road map of the nation’s major highways from my upper waist to the tops of my thighs? Not so much.

“Isn’t There Anything I Can Do?”

Yep. That was my very first question, after they pried my newborn baby boy from my hands (I gave “rooming in” a new meaning) and I had five minutes all alone to actually get a view of…well, of all that.

You all know me well enough by now to know that I’m a researcher. And I can never let anything go. Ever. So I went on a stretch mark information hunt.

Apparently, stretch marks fade on their own over time…at least a bit. But six to twelve months after the fact, what you have is what you have; they’re not getting any lighter, sorry. At least not on their own.

My Stretch Mark Tips

Fortunately, I DID discover a few tips to help fade stretch marks. Yay!

NOTE: My stretch marks are NOT completely gone using the following. I really need you to realize that. You SHOULD be proud of your stretch marks – my mom (and probably yours, too) was right. But if you’re looking for perfection, well, that doesn’t happen in life. Looking for “a little less noticeable and in some cases, gone” instead? Try the following.

  • Use a VERY moisturizing body lotion daily. When you hyper-moisturize your skin, it “plumps out” and sort of fills in the stretch marks, if you have the kind that are actual wrinkles in the skin. (I do.)
  • Drink plenty of water. Same principle as above, but from the inside out. Yes, this really works.
  • Use Retinol/Retin-A. This is one of the only proven ingredients so far to actually reduce wrinkles and fade dark areas. A Retinol cream doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive; shop around.
  • Try an at-home acid peel. Be VERY careful if this is part of your anti-stretch mark plan. Glycolic acid is the most common type of at-home peel. Leave it on for the minimum time on the directions and never do more than on peel within any seven-day period.
  • Forget about cocoa butter and vitamin E, at least for removing stretch marks. They’re absolutely wonderful for the skin, and I recommend them just for softness, but these tend to only work before the fact, lubricating the skin while it’s stretching.
  • If you’re really desperate, consider professional dermabrasion. This is the one tip here that I didn’t try myself, but I’ve heard great things about it. (I was just too chicken.) Find a REPUTABLE dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Dermabrasion removes several layers of skin to re-plane/smooth it.
  • Use aloe vera. Your best bet is to use aloe while your body is still in “repair mode,” so start early – as soon as you notice stretch marks. Aloe has known skin healing properties and has even been used on burn victims.

Good luck! You know and I know that all the stretch marks in the world are worth it when we look at our sweet babies (well, okay, my own “baby” is four now, but you get the idea). But moms are human, too. And we want to be pretty. Plain and simple. And remember: the person you neglect the most after you become a parent is yourself. Take the time to baby yourself…just a little. You’re worth it, Mom.

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