When "Olive" told us all she was pregnant, my friends and I breathed a sigh of relief once we realized there was no need to have an intervention on her recent obsession with pork and pickles. The next few months were filled with ooing and awing as her stomach began to expand and her mood swings settled into place...somewhat. After 4 months, she began to express her absolute hatred of being pregnant. This seemed like a terrible sign and I considered making another Intervention banner until she confessed the truth. She loved her pregnancy, but the site of her stretch marks was making her sick. Olive was lucky not to suffer from swollen feet or acne that often occur during pregnancy, but plagued with stretch marks all over her gorgeous belly. She may have loved what was growing inside her tummy, but she certainly hated what was growing on top. Sadly, she had only 3 months until the expensive photo-shoot she booked was to take place. The subject? You guessed it: Her naked belly.
That's when we went to the drawing board AKA my medicine cabinet. Olive was definitely not holding back from meats, dairy, or sugar during her pregnancy, but she was very concerned about putting the usual topical treatments on her scars. Stretch marks are usually found in the abdomen wall, thigh, upper arms, breasts, and butt and while the most common cause of these thin deep lines is pregnancy, hereditary factors and dramatic change can also be a factor. This makes sense because stretch marks occur when the middle layer of the your skin is stretched to capacity due to a rapid expansion, weakening the collagen and resulting in scarring the top layer of our skin.
If you've got a baby on the way, spending money on pricey scar treatments may not be high on your priority list. Here's the good news! There are several natural ways to diminish the sight of stretch marks that have promising results and are pretty cost-effective.
Here are the top 5 remedies that showed the best results for my buddy Olive.
Sugar & Lavender Scrub
This recipe is a great natural exfoliate to remove dead skin cells. Just use one tablespoon of unbleached sugar (try to get the organic stuff!), one teaspoon of lemon juice and several drops of lavender oil. Apply directly on the location of your stretch marks and rinse well. I recommend putting it all over your body since this is a great lightweight scrub. Lavender is a natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, so you will be treating those pesky scars with a well-known stress fighting agent. The vitamin C has what you need in terms of antioxidants (which are amaze for your skin) and help eliminate signs of aging. This is a great scrub if you have light scarring throughout your body, even if you don't have a little one on the way.
Mango Butter & Coconut Oil Body Butter
Now this is the jam for old, deep scarring from stretch marks. I can stand by this one; I myself have suffered from stretch marks (keeping that booty under control). Mango butter is packed with vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin D; when you combine it with coconut oil — a moisturizer that restores damaged skin — you are most likely to see serious results with these two partners in crime. Of course, this is also one of my fave body butters and hair masks as well! For a stretch mark treatment, use equal parts coconut and mango butter and smear directly on site. Be sure to get the purest form of both for best results.
Shea Butter & Vitamin E Scar Treatment
Shea butter is a boss. It has incredible healing properties in addition to being a heavy moisturizer that can treat even the deadest of skin. Shea is a legit way to improve the elasticity of your skin — it's already in most moisturizers you'll find at the pharmacy that claim to heal stretch marks. If you'd rather make your own cream, check out this stretch mark removal recipe for best results:
· 2 teaspoons of cocoa butter (melted)
· 2 teaspoons of shea butter (melted)
· 1 tablespoon of vitamin E
Without bringing to a boil (to avoid losing nutrients), melt your cocoa and shea butter together and add the pure vitamin E oil. Let your new mixture cool in a sealable container. Once in a solid creamy state you can lather this treatment directly onto your skin. I found this recipe on Rapid Home remedies for my bestie and she swears by it to remove those deep red stretch marks.
Aloe Vera & Castor Rub Down
What I love about this recipe is that aloe vera and castor are both incredibly soothing. The aloe is rich in protein lectin, amino acids, iron, calcium and potassium; it has a natural pH level of 4.5-5.5, which enhances cellular regeneration. What does that mean? It means aloe vera will heal the crap out of those scars. Castor oil has a unique ability to support skin's elasticity, is rich in vitamin E, and has natural fatty acids and proteins that will further hydrate your skin. Combine three parts aloe oil, one part castor oil, and lather it directly on the scar tissue for about 15 minutes before wiping off with a damp warm cloth. Trust me when I say, you are going to want to do this rub down naked — castor will leave some nasty stains on pretty much every fabric.
The cool thing about lemon juice is that it's a natural astringent that can even skin tone. Taking a cotton ball soaked with lemon juice and swabbing it over your stretch marks will be a lighter alternative to the above regimens. For me, lemon juice works best for decreasing the appearance of dark spots. On my skin, I've noticed that stretch marks are lighter than my skin color therefore I didn't notice a difference in appearance. However, if your stretch marks are darker than your skin tone- this will be an awesome remedy. Lemons are packed with vitamin C and acidic, making them a viable treatment to heal scars.