(NaturalNews) Despite their harmlessness, stretch marks are never pleasant to have. Aside from the 'weight gain' stigma attached to them, these white or light purple scars - caused by rapid stretching of the skin - are unsightly, and their presence often discourages otherwise confident people from enjoying swimming and other activities that expose their bodies. While Big Pharma has churned out a number of quack treatments for stretch marks, ranging from retinoid creams with unpronounceable ingredients lists to risky surgical procedures such as dermabrasion, the safest and most effective cures, as always, are found in nature. Let's take a look at the best of them.
The best home remedies for stretch marks
Aloe vera gel - A classic remedy for many skin-based ailments, including sunburn and acne, aloe vera is arguably the greatest cure for stretch marks due to its impressive levels of vitamins C and E. Simply apply some aloe vera gel to the affected areas every morning, ensuring it has time to soak into the skin and dry. The gel's healing properties will help discolor the marks and, in time, possibly remove them altogether.
Warm olive oil - Olive oil's high levels of vitamins A, K, and D have made it a popular choice for treating stretch marks, since deficiencies in these nutrients can deepen their color. Since aloe vera contains two vitamins lacking in olive oil (vitamins C and E), some people like to combine aloe vera gel with warm olive oil to make a vitamin-rich 'supercure' for particularly prominent marks.
Cocoa butter - Loved for its anti-aging and anti-wrinkling properties, cocoa butter is also effective at treating stretch marks since its ability to moisturize your skin helps improve blood circulation, thus improving the skin's natural elasticity. Unlike aloe vera gel, which can be applied once per day, cocoa butter should be applied to the affected areas at least twice per day, ideally once in the morning and once during the evening. It is especially potent if applied after a warm shower.
Almond oil - Almond oil is rich in omega-3, a polyunsaturated fatty acid that is famously good for the skin. To maximize its healing properties, apply the oil to the affected areas two to three times a day.
Tea tree oil - Yet another effective oil is that of the tea tree, an aromatic shrub native to New Zealand and southern Australia. Tea tree oil contains impressive antibiotic, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory benefits, making it an effective treatment for all skin wounds. Due to its strength, you'll only need to apply the oil to the affected areas once per day, but bear in mind that it has a strong medicinal smell that some people might find repellent.
Lemon juice - Since lemon juice increases collagen production in the skin, it is a great choice for stretch mark discoloration. It is also versatile and can be added to any of the above treatments that lack vitamin C, thus intensifying their potency.
Physical exercise - Because stretch marks are caused by rapid skin stretches, any exercises that tone the underlying muscles (such as swimming, sit-ups, and abdominal crunches) will help them fade. Likewise, drinking large amounts of water (ideally 8-12 glasses of water per day, depending on your size) will help improve skin elasticity, complementing the effects of the remedies you choose to utilize.
About the author: Michael Ravensthorpe is an independent writer whose research interests include nutrition, alternative medicine, and bushcraft. He is the creator of the website, Spiritfoods, through which he promotes the world's healthiest foods.