o you’ve got some stretch marks? Welcome to the club with roughly 80 percent of Americans. But while they’re very common—and for the record, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having them, because your body is beautiful—many people still feel a bit self-conscious about their lines. Dermatologist Dr. Arash Akhavan, MD, says stretch marks most typically occur in the abdomen (from pregnancy or weight gain), breasts, hips, shoulders, butt, and thigh area—so, basically, most places.
Still, if you’re not in love with yours, you can minimize their appearance (sorry, nothing actually banishes them completely; more on that below) with a few at-home products and/or in-office treatments. Keep reading for a quick explainer on all things stretch marks, along with what really does—and doesn’t—work.
1 But First, WTF Causes Stretch Marks?
According to Dr. Akhavan, stretch marks are caused when there’s a period of rapid growth in your body (like growth spurts, pregnancy, weight gain, or increased muscle mass) that suddenly stretches the skin, and, in turn, causes the collagen bundles under your skin to tear away from each other. So when the skin returns to its usual state (i.e., when it stops growing), “it can look wrinkled and lined, because it’s not supported by the same collagen structure underneath,” he says.
2 How Can I Get Rid of Them?!
Considering the cause of stretch marks is literal tearing deep beneath the skin, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that there’s no tried-and-true cure. “It’s literally impossible to 100 percent get rid of your stretch marks,” says Dr. Akhavan, breaking hearts everywhere. But don’t freak—there are steps you can take to reduce their appearance, namely by rebuilding the collagen in your skin with some excellent OTC products and a committed routine, like.
3 Try Prepping With a Scrub
I know, I know—using a body scrub alone can’t banish stretch marks. But using an exfoliator before applying a collagen-building moisturizer, serum, or oil can help remove dry, rough skin for maximum product absorption.
Despite sounding a little abrasive (broken walnuts?!), this beloved booty scrub has a long list of positive reviews, with customers describing it feeling as gritty as beach sand without an overpowering scent. Another bonus? It lathers slightly, which makes massaging it into your butt just a bit more satisfying.
4 Then Apply a Retinol Body Cream
Because there are no FDA-approved prescription creams for stretch marks, Dr. Akhavan suggests using a cream spiked with retinol, which stimulates your collagen production to generate new, slightly thicker skin over time. Basically, it’s as close to a “cure” as you can get. And don’t worry about the dry-skin side effects; this rich lotion uses sugar-derived humectants to draw water into the skin throughout the day to stave off itchiness.