As most of you know, I had my first child, Anthony, on February 20, 2018. And, like most new moms, I found myself with a second, far-less-welcome visitor: Stretch marks.
As you can see from the “before” photo, I had really severe stretch marks for the first eight weeks after having my baby. They were red, deep, and a few of them were a tad painful to the touch.
Starting on April 25, 2018 (post here), I started to use Apothederm Stretch Mark Cream on the stretch marks. The directions say to apply twice daily, but as every new mom knows, sometimes it’s hard to sleep, much less remember to apply a new product daily. That said, I managed to apply at least once a day about 70% of the time, forgot about 15-30% of the time (as in, I didn’t apply it entirely about once or twice a week), and applied it twice a day as recommended maybe 1-3 times over the ninety-day period.
The results speak for themselves: My stretch marks are no longer red, inflamed, or painful. They look more grayish and are fading considerably. How much of this is due to natural healing and some weight loss, I don’t know. But I will say, from a distance, you can’t see the stretch marks at all, and I think I will postpone getting a laser treatment until I’ve decided I’m done having children. Thanks, Apothederm!
What is a Stretch Mark?
Stretch marks are still a little bit of a conundrum in the dermatological community. The exact mechanism by which stretch marks develop is unknown, but the definition is that they occur when the maximum tensile strength of elastic fibers within the skin is exceeded. Think about when you expand a rubber band past its limits: It snaps. Same with your delicate collagen and elastin fibers within the skin. After they are broken, you’re left with scarring.
It has been shown that stretch marks contain decreased amounts of fibrillin and elastic fibers, and an increase in hydrating proteins called glycosaminoglycans (British Journal of Dermatology, 2008). (Glycosaminoglycans may be why stretch marks tend to look so shiny — the extra moisture retention in those areas). The study also showed stretch marks have disorganized fibrillin and elastic fibers.
What is in Apothederm Stretch Mark Cream?
- Heptapeptide-7 is a fragment of a well-characterized wound healing peptide (HB-107). In at least one clinical study, heptapeptide-7 was found to stimulate keratinocyte proliferation and migration and induce collagen synthesis, when used in reasonable concentration on humans (Biomedsearch.com).
- Shea butter. In addition to being a superior hydrator, shea butter has some exceptional anti-aging properties. In two studies it was determined to help regenerate thinning skin, lessen wrinkles from sun damage, improve complexion, and promote healing (Pobeda and Sousselier). The anti-aging, potentially collagen-boosting effects were attributed to the presences of unsaponifiables, lipids found in fatty fruits like avocado. In a study with rats, these were shown to boost collagen production (British Journal of Dermatology). Unsaponifiables in avocado and soybeans have been shown, not simply to reduce wrinkles through hydrating effect, but to actually increase collagen production (Phytotherapy Research).Several studies also suggest shea butter may have anti-inflammatory powers. It will reduce reactions to skin irritants (British Journal of Dermatology). It’s also been shown to aid in nasal congestion (Pobeda and Sousselier). But most studies should be done to determine exactly how effective it is for soothing inflammation.
- Licorice extract. The belief that licorice root extract may combat skin discoloration comes from its active component, glabridin. In varied studies, glabridin demonstrates skin-lightening properties similar to hydroquinone(HQ), interfering with the same enzyme responsible for melanin (skin pigment) formation, tyrosinase (Pigment Cell Research). Unlike HQ, glabridin does this without the mediation of DNA synthesis (Pigment Cell Research), so there is the potential for all of the benefits of HQ, without the potential discoloration or irritation associated with it. However, creams do not contain concentrated glabridin, only glabridin-containing licorice root extract, so a 1% HQ serum is still much more potent than a 1% licorice root extractin lightening the skin.
It’s funny: I am still somewhat self-conscious about my newly-scarred stomach, but I am sharing it with you here on my blog! Truth be told, there is no miracle product out there I know of (besides laser treatments) that can completely erase stretch marks. But, I’ve come to terms with it, and I would recommend Apothederm Stretch Mark Cream for the types of results you see above.