Model Barbie Ferreira has them. Victoria’s Secret Angel Jasmine Tookes does, too. And Chrissy Teigen feels “whatevs” about hers. If you’ve got stretch marks, you’re in some gorgeous company. Whether you love ‘em, hate ‘em, or begrudgingly sorta kinda accept them, here’s what you need to know about them:
They’re super common
40 to 90 percent of women have stretch marks, depending on factors like age, race, and genes — so if you’ve got ‘em, don’t worry… you’re not exactly alone. If the roster of professional models with stretch marks hasn’t convinced you, consider this: they’ve even got their own hashtag.
Some people are more susceptible to them
Stretch marks show up when your connective tissue stretches too rapidly and breaks, so you’re more likely to get them during puberty, pregnancy, or periods of rapid weight gain — prevalence ranges from 43 percent to 88 percent in pregnant women and 6 percent to 86 percent in adolescents, and is around 43 percent in those who are obese.
That said, your odds of getting them vary — adolescent girls are more likely to develop them than boys, and African American women are more severely affected than white women. You’re also more likely to develop stretch marks during pregnancy if you have a family history of pregnancy stretch marks, if you’re younger, and if your BMI is higher before and during pregnancy. And researchers think some of us are just genetically predisposed to them.
They change (and fade) over time
When stretch marks first pop up, they’re often raised and red or purple — but fear not, over time, they’ll fade to a silvery white and are often practically invisible. The dark color is due to blood vessels showing through the tears in the skin — once those blood vessels contract, pale fat underneath the skin becomes visible instead.
You can speed along the fading
There are a plethora of stretch mark creams and promised cures out there, but not all of them have been proven to work. A few things that do work? Massaging skin with almond oil, for one (but keep in mind, researchers found that the massage component was essential). If you’re walking the drugstore aisles, look for ingredients like hydroxyprolisilane-C, rosehip oil, Centella asiatica triterpenes, and vitamin E in a stretch mark cream — they’ve been shown to be the most effective in preventing the appearance of new stretch marks and reducing severity of stretch marks during pregnancy.
Products with retinoic acid (like Retina-A) are also effective in rebuilding collagen and reducing the appearance of stretch marks, but don’t use them if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. If creams don’t work, you can look into laser therapy — pulsed dye laser for new stretch marks and fractional lasers for older stretch marks — for stimulating growth of collagen and elastin.
But you can also wear them proudly
Even easier than slathering on creams or paying for pricey laser treatments? Take a cue from Chrissy Teigen and say “whatevs” to stretch marks.