Stretch Mark Creams: Are They Worth Your Money?

Medically CitedMedically Cited Fact Check Fact Checkedby Reviewed by CHD TeamUpdated: Nov-26-2023
Do creams work for stretch marks? Try one of our picks of the best stretch mark creams and oils from top brands.

Stretch marks may seem unsightly and uncomfortable for many, but it is actually a sign of all the hard work your body has gone through. Some wear them proudly, while others think they don't look good in a bikini, hence the need to get rid of them.

Nowadays, there are countless stretch mark creams available in the market and each one of them promises to diminish stretch marks in a short amount of time. Do these creams work or are they just empty promises?

Stretch Mark Creams

Stretch mark creams that help prevent your skin from tearing during pregnancy. Shutterstock Images

What are Stretch Mark Creams?

Stretch mark creams are topical formulations applied on the skin to get rid of stretch marks. Stretch marks[1] pertain to the narrow band of scars that develops when the skin stretches and shrinks in an abrupt manner. Such abrupt change causes rupture of both collagen[2] and elastin[3] - the key structural proteins that make up the skin.

There are a lot of factors that play a role in the development of stretch marks, with genetics[4] and hormone fluctuations being pointed out as the main culprits.

Other possible causes include:

  • Pregnancy [5]
  • Rapid weight gain and loss[6]
  • Rapid muscle growth due to weight training[7]
  • Growth spurts during puberty[8]
  • Long-term use of corticosteroids[9]
  • Underlying diseases such as Cushing's disease[10] or Marfan syndrome[11]

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Reasons for Using Stretch Mark Creams

Much like any other scars, stretch marks tend to be permanent. Sometimes, they can even be itchy and uncomfortable. Stretch marks creams are used to make them less visible and also to relieve any associated discomforts.

Key Ingredients to Look for in Stretch Mark Creams

According to studies, the following ingredients offer the most benefits.

Tretinoin - This vitamin derivative improves the appearance of early stretch marks by rebuilding collagen as the possible mechanism. Regular and proper use helps stretch marks look more normal.

Hyaluronic Acid - This naturally-occurring molecule makes stretch marks less obvious by providing intense moisturization and nourishment to the skin (source).

Centella Asiatica - This herb helps fade away stretch marks by inducing the body to make more collagen and repair damage tissues. It also prevents the formation of additional stretch marks.

Vitamin C - This antioxidant vitamin plays an important role in collagen synthesis (source). It makes the skin strong and elastic, and thus reduce the appearance of various skin issues like fine lines, wrinkles, and stretch marks.

Vitamin E - Also a widely used skincare ingredient, this vitamin is known for its antioxidant (source), nourishing, and skin regenerating benefits. It helps make stretch marks less obvious on its own, but it can also be combined with other stretch mark regimens to give them a boost.

Do Stretch Mark Creams Work?

Unfortunately, the development of stretch marks is largely genetic and there's nothing much we can do about it. But as far as topical treatments go, stretch marks creams are pretty decent and affordable option when it comes to getting rid of stretch marks.

This is not to say that they are all very effective. Some creams work, others don't. It's just a matter of choosing the right product for, which we'll be discussing next.

How to Choose the Best Stretch Mark Creams?

Choosing the best stretch mark cream depends on the ingredients. According to experts, the ones that actually work are those that stimulates collagen to rebuild. Such include tretinoin-containing creams, but other ingredients like the ones listed above also helps. If you wish to use OTC products, picks ones that contain low concentrations of active ingredients first. Then work you way up, preferably under the supervision of your dermatologist until you get the results that you want. Needless to say, you also have to consider from which manufacturer you should buy.

Choose one with a good reputation. Furthermore, make sure that your product is hypoallergenic, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding must consult their specialist first prior to using stretch mark creams. Some ingredients used in the formula can be harmful for unborn babies or young children.

The Bottom Line

Stretch mark creams, just like any other cosmetic or skincare product, may or may not work for everyone. They're not a miracle cure that will solve the problem overnight. If you find yourself spending a lot of money but with no apparent results, then it's probably for the best to see a dermatologist to determine which products you should be trying or if you'll benefit more from certain procedures.

Keep in mind, though, that as with any other skincare products, it takes time before some noticeable improvements can be seen. Never set high expectations because most stretch mark creams work best on minimal to moderate stretch marks.

**This is a subjective assessment based on the strength of the available informations and our estimation of efficacy.

*Result may vary. The information contained in this website is provided for general informational purpose. No medical claims are implied in this content, and the information herein is not intended to be used for self diagnosis or self treatment of any condition.

*Disclosure of Material connection: Some of the links in the post above are "associate sales links." This means if you can click on the link and purchase an item, we will receive a commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services which we use personally and/or believe will add value to our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials."

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