Should You Use Body Oil to Help With Stretch Marks? We Asked a Dermatologist
Be it the result of having a growth spurt, growing a tiny human in your body, rapid weight gain or weight loss, stretch marks — otherwise known as striae distensae — are completely normal. And while we’re all for embracing your pink, red or white marks, you may also want to try and reduce their appearance. That’s where body oil comes into play. Many people swear that body oil can help both pre- and post-stretch-mark formation, but is that really the case? To find out the truth about whether or not body oils can help improve the appearance of stretch marks, we turned to board-certified dermatologist and founder of Surface Deep, Dr. Alicia Zalka.
Can Body Oil Help With Stretch Marks?
Before addressing body oil as a treatment option, it’s important to understand exactly how stretch marks form in the first place. Regardless of the area (think: abdomen, breasts, upper arms, thighs), stretch marks are the result of damage in the dermal layer of the skin. “Striae distensae form when collagen and elastin, the supporting structure that gives skin its shape, become disordered from their normal pattern due to stretching of the soft tissue,” says Dr. Zalka. “The result is thinning of skin just below the epidermis and a resulting surface scar.” Due to this change in the skin’s makeup, the texture ends up looking paper thin and somewhat translucent when compared to the surrounding skin.
With that in mind, it’s important to manage expectations when addressing stretch marks — especially with body oil. “Body oils may provide some visible improvement to the appearance of these scars, but because the origin of the problem is deeper in the damaged soft tissue, surface application of oils does not actually remove or cure stretch marks,” says Dr. Zalka. “The elastic and collagen tissues in the dermis are damaged, and the oils do not help them repair fully.”
Even though body oils won’t “cure” stretch marks, there’s no reason to avoid using them. In fact, Dr. Zalka says you may actually see a few benefits. “There is no harm in keeping your skin soft and lubricated with body oil in the hopes that stretch marks don’t occur,” she says. “While there is not sufficient medically conclusive evidence to support or detract from the notion that body oils prevent stretch mark formation, using body oil can, however, make the skin more supple and more reflective of light, so it may improve the overall appearance of your skin.” Dr. Zalka suggests using body oils that are from plants such as coconut, avocado, olive or shea. We love the Kiehl’s Creme de Corps Nourishing Dry Body Oil with grape seed oil and squalene.
How Can You Help Improve the Appearance of Stretch Marks?
It’s best to address your stretch marks when they first appear and are red or pink in color as opposed to a more translucent white. “This is the best time to intervene if treatment is needed because the sooner they are addressed, the better the chance is to keep them from being a permanent mark,” says Dr. Zalka. “There is no one cure though, so be prepared to see only slight improvement.” She recommends consulting with a board-certified dermatologist to discuss treatment. “Some options include hyaluronic acid moisturizers, retinol applications with creams or peels, microdermabrasion, microneedling and lasers. I suggest starting with the least expensive and least invasive option first.”
Photo: Chaunte Vaughn