10 Popular Myths About Stretch Marks That Definitely Aren’t True

This might sound superficial, but I still remember the moment I realized I had stretch marks. I was in high school and had gained some weight, and I was trying on a bathing suit. I looked at myself in the mirror, and was horrified to see squiggly pink lines on my inner thighs. Upon inspection, I realized they were stretch marks, and I was shocked. I thought that only pregnant women had stretch marks, a belief that came from a distant memory of being a kid cuddling with my mom who had recently given birth to my sister, and asking her why she had white lines on her stomch. I felt like a freak and was completely disgusted with myself. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only stretch mark myth I believed.

A few years later, I lost the weight I had gained and more, and I was considerably thinner. When I realized how many sizes I had gone down, I checked my inner thighs to see if my stretch marks had disappeared. While they were less stretchy, they were still there, and this time, they were lighter in color. I felt deflated, because I had thought losing weight would get rid of them, and it dind’t work. Flash forward to today: I still have those stretch marks, and I have pretty much accepted that they aren’t going away. I have even learned to ignore them.

But just because I am in a place of stretch mark acceptance doesn’t mean you are. I get lots of emails from you guys asking how to get rid of stretch marks or asking why you have them or wondering if you’re a weirdo for having them. These worried thoughts about them come from all of the popular myths about stretch marks that get told, over and over again, and make us feel crappy about our bodies. Want to know the truth? Read on as we debunk the myths and give you info that’s much more useful:

Only Overweight People Have Stretch Marks

Because so many stretch marks are caused by skin stretching, which is usually caused by weight gain, a lot of people believe that stretch marks are a sign that you're overweight. This means that people think only heavier people can have stretch marks, not thin people. Not true! Stretch marks have other causes (which we'll discuss soon), and can most certainly be found on "skinny" people. They aren't 100 percent connected to weight.

Source: iStock

You Can Get Rid Of Them Completely

The beauty industry has a field day with stretch marks, because they know many women find them less than desirable, and they use them to make money. There are tons of "miracle" skin care creams and lotions and treatments out there, most of which claim to make stretch marks disappear forever with little to no work. Don't believe them, because that's not possible. You can, sometimes, diminish the appearance of stretch marks with certain treatments, and even creams if they aren't far along, but there is nothing out there that will get rid of them completely and forever.

You Can't Get Rid Of Them At All

On the flip side of that, there are people who say you can't get rid of stretch marks at all, even a little bit. This is not always true! Like I said, there are some treatments and products out there that will help diminish the appearance of stretch marks. So, while you aren't exactly "getting rid of them," you are making them less noticeable. However, it's important to note that the longer you have a stretch mark, the harder it is to diminish the appearance. Over time, stretch marks change color, and once they're very white, they're extremely difficult to fix in any way.

Source: iStock

Losing Weight Makes Them Go Away

If you get stretch marks because your skin stretched when you gained weight, wouldn't it make sense for them to disappear when your skin shrinks back down if you lose weight? I mean, I guess, but also no - that logic doesn't make sense if you really think about it. Actually, losing weight can cause stretch marks or make them more pronounced, especially if you lose a lot of weight in a short period of time and you aren't exercising. Working out tightens your skin, which can get loose when you lose a lot of weight in one area.

Source: iStock

You Can't Prevent Stretch Marks

We aren't completely powerless when it comes to stretch marks, just, like, 90 percent powerless! In all seriousness, though, you can sometimes prevent stretch marks from happening by keeping skin super hydrated in an area you expect stretching. This is why a lot of pregnant women rub their bellies and the surrounding area with heavy creams or oils. Exercise also makes skin more elastic and capable of withstanding the tears that cause stretch marks, so if you work out pretty regularly, you have a better chance of not developing them. But at the end of the day, some people are just predisposed to stretch marks because of hormones and genetics, so they aren't 100 percent preventable.

Source: iStock

Stretch Marks Only Occur From Skin Stretching

Like I said before, skin stretching isn't the only reason stretch marks will appear on your body. While this is the most common reason they occur, genetics also plays a big part. If the women in your family have stretch marks, you will probably get them too. Other factors include skin type, body fat, and hormonal changes, which is one reason why a lot of girls going through puberty get them.

Source: iStock

Tanning Helps Hide Stretch Marks

I'm not sure where this myth came about, but tanning isn't your solution if you're trying to disguise your stretch marks. Although sunkissed skin can sometimes help hide your stretch marks for a brief period of time, I wouldn't rely on that - a deep tan can sometimes make them look even more noticeable. That's what happens to me!

Source: iStock

Guys Don't Get Stretch Marks

Because women get stretch marks more often than men, a lot of people assume it's just a lady thing. Nope, not true! Dudes can get them too. Women are more likely to develop them (one reason is because our bodies store more fat than men), but guys can definitely have them as well.

Source: iStock

Only Pregnant Women Get Stretch Marks

Part of the reason I was so horrified with my stretch marks in high school was because I had believed only pregnant woman got them, and I didn't know what was wrong with me. I don't know why I thought that! This myth definitely isn't true!

Source: iStock

Cocoa Butter Makes Them Disappear

Cocoa butter is often declared a miracle product when it comes to getting rid of stretch marks or preventing them. People swear by it. Cocoa butter is definitely great to use if you're trying to prevent stretch marks, but there's no evidence saying it removes them or even diminishes their appearance. Because cocoa butter is so hydrating, it's great to use if you're trying to prevent stretch marks, but it won't do much if you've already got them.

Source: iStock

Which one of these stretch marks myths did you believe? What did we forget to add? Let me know your questions in the comments!

You can follow the author, Jessica Booth, on Twitter or Instagram.


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  • NellyDoretha

    I’m in week 40 of my pregnancy with no stretch marks. I am on my 3rd order of dermelastic serum. They last me about a month each and I started using around week 24. I do not have a genetic history of stretch marks (Mom, Sister), but still wanted to make sure I took care of my growing stomach and prevented what I could. Seems to have worked!