Got stretch marks? You’re not alone. (After all, Chrissy Teigen does, and so does Teyana Taylor, and we’re guessing most women you know do, too.) And though science has determined you can’t get rid of them for good as of yet, you can minimize their appearance. Other options, of course, include preventing them in the first place, covering them up, or perhaps most forward-thinking of all, learning to love them. What follow is our guide to all of the above.
What are they?“Stretch marks are caused by rapid stretching of the skin during times of brisk weight gain, pregnancy, or growth,” explains Joshua Zeichner, a New York City–based dermatologist and the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “The skin stretches so quickly that the collagen and elastic tissue are damaged, leading to the characteristic line-like appearance of the skin.”
Also, heads up that you might also hear them sometimes called by their technical name, striae. As Zakiya P. Rice, an assistant professor of dermatology and the director of the Dermatology Clinical Trials Unit at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, explains, striae are actually scars—and scars, by definition, “are permanent molecular changes in the skin that cannot be reversed.” Which is why if you have them, you’ve kind of got them for good. (And guess what? We all do—it’s nothing to feel ashamed about.)