Impossible standards set by the beauty industry have made us all very insecure about even the most natural marks on our skin. Stretch marks, which are breaks in the various layers of the skin (epidermis and dermis), fall under this very category. They start off with a reddish-purple hue and go on to become white or silvery. In addition to this, these marks could be indented, thin (as compared to the surrounding areas, or glossy. Before we go on to list out the ways by which you can tackle stretch marks, let’s look into how they come to be.1
How Do Stretch Marks Form?
People who are obese, going through puberty, and are pregnant commonly complain of stretch marks.
Although almost every other person you meet is bound to have stretch marks, the reason behind them could easily be different.2 There are most commonly known causes of stretch marks, which are:
- Fluctuations in weight: Any kind of rapid weight gain can lead to the skin getting stretched out in a short span of time, making the epidermis tear and forming scars. Rapid weight loss, meanwhile, causes the skin to shrink and lose its elasticity, leading to tears in the skin.
- Abnormalities in collagen formation: Certain medications lead to the loss of collagen fibers in the skin’s dermis, the layer underneath the epidermis, and, in turn, its elasticity. This leads to tears in the skin each time the body goes through a physical change (such as a growth spurt in teenagers)
- Ehlers-Danlos syndrome: This is an inherited disorder that affects the skin, joints and blood vessels. It makes the skin susceptible to tears and bruises and hence often causes stretch marks.
- Cushing syndrome: Caused due to high cortisol levels, Cushing syndrome causes thin skin that bruises easily. Stretch marks are, hence, common with this condition.
- Overuse of cortisone skin creams: Often prescribed for psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis, overuse of cortisone creams is believed to make the skin susceptible to stretch marks.
It’s important to remember that stretch marks are both normal and common. In addition to this, they can’t be completely erased. However, using certain oils might lighten their appearance with time.
9 Essential Oils For Stretch Marks
1. Lavender Oil
Lavender essential oil is known for its wound healing abilities. Research indicates that it could increase collagen production and help in the formation of granulation tissue, a tissue that forms over raw, broken skin during wound healing. This, in turn, is believed to help deal with new (red and purple colored) stretch marks and prevent new ones from forming.3
2. Lemon Oil
Combine lemon oil with almond oil while using. Doing this will increase the absorption of vitamin E from it and give you the most bang for your buck.
Lemon essential oil is a part of most stretch marks-busting remedies due to its ability to fight damage caused by free radicals in the skin and prevent the death of cells that produce collagen and keratin, the building blocks of skin. It also increases the absorption of anything that you combine with it.4
3. Patchouli Oil
Combine patchouli oil with lemon or lavender oil before using it.
Patchouli oil might have antioxidant properties that fight skin damage caused by free radicals and promote collagen synthesis. This could be why it is recommended for stretch marks. However, since further research is needed to fully validate this benefit, it might be a good idea to combine it with other oils mentioned here for the best results.5
4. Neroli (Bitter Orange Tree) Oil
Made from bitter orange tree blossoms, neroli oil has been used in folk medicine to lighten skin and improve the appearance of scars and stretch marks. Current research indicates that this oil has antioxidant properties which aid in skin cell regeneration and wound healing, both of which contribute to improving the skin’s appearance.6
5. Rose and Rosehip Oil
Rose oil is extracted from the petals of roses while rosehip oil is extracted from the fruit of the rose plant. One study in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology found that rose essential oil stimulates the production of keratinocytes. These cells create keratin, the structural proteins that make up the skin’s outer layer. And since stretch marks are breaks in that outer layer, keratin is a must.
This essential oil also fixes cellulite and stretch marks by strengthening weak skin. It can also help the areas that are dry and stressed out from pregnancy. If you love floral aromas, try mixing rose oil with lavender.7
Rosehip oil, meanwhile, has shown to improve the severity of stretch marks in pregnant women with old stretch marks. Studies looking into this benefit used a moisturizer containing rosehip oil.8
6. Argan Oil
Made from the argan tree kernels, argan oil is known to improve the skin’s elasticity and, in turn, the appearance of stretch marks. Studies have shown that both consuming and topically applying argan oil made skin more elastic in postmenopausal women and reduced the appearance of stretch marks in them.9 10 So, you could either buy an ointment with argan oil in it or use the essential oil as a massage oil. Consult a professional before consuming argan oil to see what dosage would suit you best.
7. Gotu Kola
Also known as Brahmi and Asiatic pennywort, gotu kola is used in Ayurveda to treat skin ailments. Current research indicates that compounds in this herb help increase collagen production and improve skin’s tensile strength, aiding in the reduction of stretch marks and preventing future ones.11
In one study, 100 pregnant women were divided into two groups. One group was given a topical cream containing gotu kola while the other was given a placebo cream. Within the former group, only 14 women developed stretch marks as opposed to 22 women in the latter group.12
8. Bitter Almond Oil
Quite unlike the almond oil that’s sold commercially, bitter almond oil comes from bitter almonds that are toxic when ingested. In fact, they are believed to mimic cyanide poisoning when ingested. There are studies that look at the topical application of bitter almond oil on pregnant women, which found that a 15-minute massage every day using this oil led to lower incidence of stretch marks across groups.13
9. Pomegranate oil
Extracted from pomegranate seeds, pomegranate oil contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties which when added to Dragon’s blood extract is believed to increase skin elasticity, thickness, and hydration. Studies looking into the two ingredients have concluded that using a cream with both ingredients might improve the appearance of stretch marks.14
It is believed that grapeseed oil and emu oil also work well towards lightening stretch marks but there isn’t enough research to back the same.
How To Use
To treat stretch marks, use essential oils in a homemade blend. Dilute 5–10 drops of essential oils in 1 tablespoon of a carrier. Remember, essential oils are made at high concentrations, so it’s important to do this. Lovely carrier oils include coconut, grapeseed, olive, and almond oil. Rub the mixture onto the stretch marks until fully absorbed.
You can also exfoliate with essential oils. This will scrub away dead skin cells and lighten up dark streaks, making the marks less noticeable. To exfoliate with essential oils and remove stretch marks, try this recipe.
- Start with 2 cups of a natural exfoliant like sugar or sea salt.
- Combine with 1 cup carrier oil like olive, avocado, or sunflower oil.
- Add 10–15 drops of essential oils and mix well.
Always do a patch test when using a new essential oil. You might be allergic and not even know it! If you do have an allergic reaction such as rashes, hives, redness, and itching, stop using the essential oil.
If you’re pregnant, it might be tempting to start these remedies. But essential oils are very strong, so check with your doctor first. It may be safer to moisturize with carrier oils for now.
After using these oils, avoid the sun. They’re phototoxic and can cause irritation when exposed to sunlight. Be safe and use these oils at night before bedtime.
By using essential oils for stretch marks, you can ditch the expensive creams. You’ll expose yourself to fewer chemicals, too. Using the oils will also double as pleasant aromatherapy.
|↑1||Stretch Marks. Better Health Channel.|
|↑2||Stretch marks. MedlinePlus.|
|↑3||Mori, Hiroko-Miyuki, Hiroshi Kawanami, Hirohisa Kawahata, and Motokuni Aoki. “Wound healing potential of lavender oil by acceleration of granulation and wound contraction through induction of TGF-β in a rat model.” BMC complementary and alternative medicine 16, no. 1 (2016): 144.|
|↑4||Manconi, Maria, Maria Letizia Manca, Francesca Marongiu, Carla Caddeo, Ines Castangia, Giacomo Luigi Petretto, Giorgio Pintore et al. “Chemical characterization of Citrus limon var. pompia and incorporation in phospholipid vesicles for skin delivery.” International journal of pharmaceutics 506, no. 1 (2016): 449-457.|
|↑5||Kong, Song-Zhi, Xu-Guang Shi, Xue-Xuan Feng, Wen-Jie Li, Wei-Hai Liu, Zhu-Wen Chen, Jian-Hui Xie et al. “Inhibitory effect of hydroxysafflor yellow A on mouse skin photoaging induced by ultraviolet irradiation.” Rejuvenation research 16, no. 5 (2013): 404-413.|
|↑6||Ao, Yoko, Kazue Satoh, Katsushige Shibano, Yukari Kawahito, and Seiji Shioda. “Singlet oxygen scavenging activity and cytotoxicity of essential oils from rutaceae.” Journal of clinical biochemistry and nutrition 43, no. 1 (2008): 6-12.|
|↑7||Casetti, F., U. Wölfle, W. Gehring, and C. M. Schempp. “Dermocosmetics for dry skin: a new role for botanical extracts.” Skin pharmacology and physiology 24, no. 6 (2011): 289-293.|
|↑8||García Hernández, J. Á., D. Madera González, M. Padilla Castillo, and T. Figueras Falcón. “Use of a specific anti‐stretch mark cream for preventing or reducing the severity of striae gravidarum. Randomized, double‐blind, controlled trial.” International journal of cosmetic science 35, no. 3 (2013): 233-237.|
|↑9||Bogdan, Cătălina, Mirela L. Moldovan, Ioana Manuela Man, and Maria Crișan. “Preliminary study on the development of an antistretch marks water-in-oil cream: ultrasound assessment, texture analysis, and sensory analysis.” Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology 9 (2016): 249.|
|↑10||Boucetta, Kenza Qiraouani, Zoubida Charrouf, Hassan Aguenaou, Abdelfattah Derouiche, and Yahya Bensouda. “The effect of dietary and/or cosmetic argan oil on postmenopausal skin elasticity.” Clinical interventions in aging 10 (2015): 339.|
|↑11||Bylka, Wiesława, Paulina Znajdek-Awiżeń, Elżbieta Studzińska-Sroka, and Małgorzata Brzezińska. “Centella asiatica in cosmetology.” Advances in Dermatology and Allergology/Postȩpy Dermatologii I Alergologii 30, no. 1 (2013): 46.|
|↑12||Mallol, J., M. A. Belda, D. Costa, A. Noval, and M. Sola. “Prophylaxis of Striae gravidarum with a topical formulation. A double blind trial.” International journal of cosmetic science 13, no. 1 (1991): 51-57.|
|↑13||Timur Taşhan, Sermin, and Ayşe Kafkasli. “The effect of bitter almond oil and massaging on striae gravidarum in primiparaous women.” Journal of clinical nursing 21, no. 11‐12 (2012): 1570-1576.|
|↑14||Bogdan, Cătălina, Sonia Iurian, Ioan Tomuta, and Mirela Moldovan. “Improvement of skin condition in striae distensae: Development, characterization and clinical efficacy of a cosmetic product containing Punica granatum seed oil and Croton lechleri resin extract.” Drug design, development and therapy 11 (2017): 521.|