Stretch marks, also known as striae or striae gravidarum, happen when the middle layer of the skin stretches to the point of tearing. The tears, while not open wounds, become visible as raised red or purple lines on the skin. Eventually they turn white or silver and flatten out. They affect up to 90% of pregnant women.
Certified Herbalist Elizabeth Dorow with Ona Organics goes on to tell us that "The best defense against stretch marks is to keep your skin supple and hydrated to increase elasticity so the “stretching” is less damaging to the skin. Oils high in Oleic acid and small molecular weight are able to penetrate deeper layers of the skin and therefore more effective at delivering results."
Stretch marks are most often seen on the belly, but they can also appear on the breasts, buttocks, hips, thighs, and upper arms.
Essential oils, when diluted, may help reduce the appearance of these marks. Pregnant women are encouraged to use a 1% dilution, using 5-6 drops in every ounce of carrier oil. When trying new essential oils on the skin, test the dilution in a patch test by placing a dime-sized amount near the elbow and checking for irritation, burning, or rashes after 24-48 hours.
Lavender oil has been suggested to increase the production of collagen that helps wounds to heal. Lavender oil may help the stretch marks heal quicker and reduce the appearance of deep scarring. This oil is also well known for its calming and relaxing properties, so expecting mothers can enjoy the scent while it soaks into the skin.
A lesser-known essential oil, patchouli has antioxidant properties and may help promote collagen production. This mood-boosting oil has been known to reduce the appearance of scars and to soothe dry and irritated skin.
Frankincense has antioxidant properties, ferulic acids, and vitamins that can help soften and strengthen the skin. Frankincense has been a sacred oil since Biblical times, believed to smooth wrinkles and skin imperfections.
Carrier oils, unlike essential oils, may be used without dilution, since they are less irritating.
Rosehip oil is full of omega and linoleic fatty acids and vitamin A and C that help soften, prevent discoloration, reduces inflammation and promote elasticity. Rosehip oil is prized for its ability to help reduce acne spots by reducing inflammation. Stretch marks are positively affected in the same way.
Argan oil is rich in omega fatty acids and vitamin E that improve skin elasticity and promote cell growth, and it has anti-inflammatory properties that may help shrink stretch marks. Argan oil's smoothing and moisturizing properties help soothe and reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
Ray Amaari told us how choosing the right carrier oil, like Argan, is also essential. "Natural oils that have antioxidant properties can help prevent or reduce the appearance of stretch marks by promoting the synthesis of collagen. Argan Oil is a natural stimulants for collagen production, that hydrates the skin and can improve elasticity."
Fractionated Coconut Oil
Fractionated coconut oil uses antioxidants, fatty acids, and vitamin E to soften the skin. It contains anti-inflammatory properties and encourages collagen production, so your skin can heal quickly, resulting in less noticeable stretch marks.
To Reduce and Prevent Stretch Marks:
Massage a carrier oil into the skin, twice a day. If desired, add 5-6 drops of essential oil for every ounce of carrier oil used. Always patch test before starting a skincare regimen.