If you've given birth two or three times, chances are you know all about stretch marks -- those small red badges of honor that adorn many women's bodies during pregnancy and/or after giving birth. With that said, you are beautiful, and stretch marks are truly a sign of how bad a** you are and how amazing the female body is! However, if there are ways to keep your skin supple and hydrated you may want to keep reading.
Now, according to the science experts, stretch marks are the result of skin tearing from being pulled more tightly than it's able to stretch in a given time. You know how rubber bands lose their stretch when they've been around for a while? It's a bit similar with your skin. It loses elasticity as it ages. That's because the protein that gives your skin its' elasticity -- collagen -- starts to decline. Your skin produces less and less of it as you age.
The loss of collagen is what causes the skin to wrinkle, and it also increases the chances of getting stretch marks due to rapid weight gain or loss, which is exactly what happens during pregnancy. Also, if your mom had stretch marks, you may just have it in your DNA to also get stretch marks.
Since our culture is one that worships youth and fights aging and other "flaws" tooth and nail in a valiant effort to hang on to it, something like stretch marks may be something you will want to help with if you can. It's funny that we admire age in things such as vintage clothing or old copper pots with their greenish patina, but we eschew it in ourselves! Yet, of course, as with anything, age will eventually win the war, but we continue to try to win some of the battles along the way, nonetheless! Here's what to do...
Plan Your Strategy
The beginning of your pregnancy journey is a good time to start applying a quality body butter to areas that are prone to develop stretch marks, such as the tummy, hips, thighs and yes, your breasts, which often begin to grow fuller during pregnancy and throughout the time you continue to nurse your child.
You can go out and spend some serious cash in your quest for the perfect stretch mark preventative, or you can roll up your sleeves and come up with some homemade DIY "belly" and "boobie butters" to start using right away and continue using throughout your nursing months. These will keep your skin ultra-hydrated, which is one of the keys to both preventing and smoothing out stretch marks.
We highly recommend quality over quantity, as always. So invest in a few quality oils and products while concocting your stretch mark diy belly and boobie butter. We choose oils because oil is a top moisturizer in comparison to lotion that is filled with other ingredients.
Concentrated and quality ingredients will be more absorbent with a molecular structure that can actually hydrate and moisturize your skin rather than being just a thick paste that does nothing and only temporarily feels good. Don't be fooled by body "butter" in a store that looks really thick and just smells good. Go for these recipes instead...
Here are 4 DIY Belly and Boobie Recipes that we love -
1. Coconut Oil Shea Butter Cream
This is an ultra-nourishing body butter that's guaranteed to infuse your skin with moisture:
Blend in a small bowl and have something you will use to store it in after...an old skin cream jar works well - half coconut oil and half 100% shea butter. You can get 100% shea butter from a health food store.
Add 1 tablespoon of avocado oil plus a few drops of Vitamin E oil and a few drops of your favorite essential oil as an aromatic plus.
Whip it all together with a fork or tiny whisk. If you need to melt it a bit do so by running your fork or mixing tool under very hot water, dry it, then continue to whip your butter. Repeat that if you need to smooth out the mixture even more.
Store in an airtight container. Regularly massage on affected areas. Like everyday....when you wake up and before bed.
- Use Virgin Cold Pressed Coconut Oil
- Use 100% Shea Butter. Read the ingredients or ask the store attendant to ensure it is pure quality shea butter.
- Use real essential oil. These are true highly concentrated oils and a little goes a long way.
2. Cocoa Butter and Jojoba Oil Cream
Put about 1/4 oz. beeswax and 1/4 oz. cocoa butter in a double boiler pot or thick bottomed pot. Add 1-3/4 ounces of coconut oil and 1 1/2 oz. of Evening Primrose oil to the mix and melt over low heat.
When the mixture becomes warm, remove from heat and add a scant drop of lavender essential oil and 1/2 oz. jojoba oil.
Whip it continuously for several minutes until the mixture becomes well whipped and semi fluffy. Store in an airtight container and use daily.
Jojoba oil is light yet an effective moisturizer known for being similar in composition to the oil that is secreted by our own body making it ultra absorbent and super hydrating.
Again, grab these ingredients at your local health food store and use this daily. Day and Night.
3. Ultimate Rich Frankincense Body Butter and Hyaluronic Acid Primer
This recipe is a little pricier than the preceding ones since one of its key ingredients is Frankincense essential oil, which you should go for a very high quality one. It claims to work effectively to help prevent stretch marks and keep your skin supple.
Mix drops each of the following 3 essential oils in four tablespoons of coconut oil OR 100% Shea Butter:
- lavender - 5 drops
- frankincense - 10-15 drops
- sandalwood - 5 drops
Add 1 teaspoon of Almond oil and blend well. Store in a glass jar and use regularly. (Bonus: You'll smell fabulous while you're treating your stretch marks!)
Now you need to get Hyaluronic Acid and use this first as your primer. Go to your natural food store to buy it. Then, use the body butter mixture. Do this daily. Day and Night.
Hyaluronic acid isn't harsh or skin-stripping at all. In fact, it's the exact opposite – a powerful humectant (aka moisture-binding ingredient) that keeps skin plump and hydrated and, yes, young-looking. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring polysaccharide (carbohydrate) in the human body. SOURCE:http://blog.doctoroz.com/oz-experts/why-you-should-care-about-hyaluronic-acid
4. Exfoliating and Nourishing Rosehip Oil Duo
This is a two step process of combining exfoliating and sloughing off dead skin cells to help with skin regeneration and cell turnover, and highly nourishing the skin afterwards.
In the shower scrub the skin gently with a sugar scrub and gentle hand mitt. Brown sugar is best. We love the Brown Sugar Scrub from Fresh, but your local natural food store should have many choices, or make one at home using brown sugar and a tad of olive oil. Sugar is known to be a humectant allowing a great sloughing of dead skin. It's much better than a salt scrub for sensitive skin.
Afterwards, to clean skin, apply glycolic acid to affected areas. Glycolic is a fruit acid and dermatologists consider this safe while pregnant. This is much more gentle for sensitive skin than other acids such as salicylic on the market (we do not recommend salicylic). The glycolic will help refine the pores and smooth the skin.
Lastly, moisturize. Use a buttery mix of Argan Oil, Rosehip Oil, and Shea Butter. Take a spoonful of Shea Butter and generously - really go for it - mix in the two oils to create a light cream that is rich in the oils. Apply day and night.
Rosehip Oil is known to uberly drench the skin with nourishing fatty acids that help with skin regeneration and its' reparative qualities are great for helping the appearance of stretch marks.
What to Expect
No cream can guarantee results, whether you spend $10 or $100. So prevention is much more value to you and spending the time and investment now then worrying about it later.
Also keep in mind that your skin has great regenerative powers and regular, consistent use should show some improvement if you already have stretch marks, even if it doesn't completely eliminate all of them.
If you have questions, as always ask your physician and do skin tests to make sure you can safely use these ingredients on your skin.
Diet Lifestyle Changes Can Help
As we noted earlier, it can be both weight gain and a loss of collagen that promotes stretch marks. But you may be able to encourage your body to produce more collagen through foods that are rich in amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Including the following foods regularly in your diet can help ...
- lean proteins such as salmon, tuna, tofu, egg whites, peanuts, chicken, turkey, lentils and beans
- vegetables like broccoli, spinach, kale, carrots, garlic, red peppers, beets and green beans
- fruits including cherries, berries of every variety, tomatoes, oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit and avocados
- it's a great help to choose one day a week to be vegetarian or gluten free. This allows your system to have a break. Go for more days if you can do it.
This is a two in one deal of awesomeness since staying healthy with clean foods and eliminating processed foods will allow your body to not have as much added weight to the gain you will already have while being pregnant.
Another important preventive and curative measure is to be sure you're giving your body the water it needs. Doctors recommend drinking at least 8 cups of water a day. If you have a hard time keeping track, fill a 2-liter bottle and try to drink all of it throughout the course of the day. Hydrating is highly significant in keeping wrinkles at bay and that means less stretch marks!
Finally, stay away from sugar as much as you can. Collagen is a protein, and excess sugar in your blood will attach to the protein in your body and damage it. Eating less sugar is not only good for your skin, but also your teeth and your waistline!
We know this isn't the miracle cure all for everyone since preggo bellies and breastfeeding boobies have a mind of their own, yet for a majority of you it will be a great help.
Try these strategies both at the beginning of your pregnancy and for as long as you need to postpartum to both prevent and treat stretch marks and simply as an act of self-pampering, which is something every new mom can use!!
Keep going mama! Consistency yields results! You can do it!
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