How to Exfoliate Stretch Marks Away

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Though we’ve frequently talked about stretch mark treatment, we haven’t focused on the most crucial step in your skincare routine: exfoliating those stretch marks.

Fact: Even the best stretch mark cream can’t be properly absorbed if you don’t get rid of grime and dead skin cells first.

So, in this article, we are going to cover everything you need to know about exfoliation.

What does Exfoliation Mean?

Exfoliating refers to scrubbing or eliminating layers of skin. These are the topmost layers that house dirt, bacteria, and dead cells, all those nasty elements that can block the pores and affect the appearance of your skin.

Think of cleaning a house. There’s no point in polishing the floor when it’s covered in grime. You first need to get rid of all the dirt, before the floor can truly shine, right?

Well, it’s the same with skin – you need to eliminate those cumbersome dead layers before you can apply products (such as moisturizers or creams) and look your best.

It also improves the circulation of the blood and even out the skin tone.

What Types of Exfoliation are There?

Exfoliation can be achieved through multiple means – by using a specially designed scrub, a tool, or through chemical substances.

Manual Procedure

Manual exfoliation means that you are manually scrubbing away the old cells, either with a scrub or a tool.

Scrubs:

Body scrubs are available from most skincare brands, and they range from the mild to the infuriatingly harsh. They generally use an abrasive product, combined with a soothing oil or liquid, to balance the effect.

You can purchase a body scrub or make your own. We have found that a coffee scrub is particularly efficient for getting rid of dead skin. The caffeine present helps revitalize the appearance of the skin, and the antioxidant properties of coffee are rapidly absorbed and help prevent deterioration.

We highly suggest the coffee scrub for stretch marks and generally tired skin.

Tools:

Dry Brushing

You can also opt for using an exfoliating brush or a sponge.

Dry Brushing – true to the name, this refers to using a bristly brush on your skin each day before a shower, and it’s an excellent reasonably inexpensive way of removing dead cells and stimulating flow;

Electric Brushes – in this case, you’re letting the brush do the work for you, as it automatically rotates the bristles over your skin. There are also electric brushes that use rotating magnetic beads to scrub away impurities;

Loofahs – made from the fibrous interior of fruits, these all-natural sponges are a big favorite for pregnant ladies, as they are not too harsh, yet leave the skin feeling thoroughly clean.

They’re all excellent options, but loofahs require more care because if you don’t clean them properly after use, they can become a playground for bacteria.

Our favorite tool for clearing stretch marks is the dry brush, as it effectively removes damaged layers of skin and stimulates the blood, and thus, the healing process.

Chemical Procedure

Chemical exfoliation uses various acids and chemical products (AHAs, BHAs, or retinoids, mainly) to help your skin shed dead cells faster. It’s mostly in the form of serum that you apply and let sit on your skin for a while, but can also be done as a chemical peel at the salon.

Chemical Peeling is the application of alpha-hydroxy acids or beta-hydroxy acids to the skin. This burns through the exterior layers and helps resurface newer, healthier skin. Salicylic Acid (a BHA) is among the most efficient chemicals for fading stretch marks and also soothing the redness or inflammation typically associated with fresh scars.

The topical cream Retin-A is a popular at-home peel because the high vitamin A content encourages the skin to shed faster. Retin-A is not advised during pregnancy, however, and should be used with caution.

So… Which is Better for My Skin?

While opinions on this vary, we would say that chemical is better, because manual method often tends to be too harsh and irritate the skin.

However, chemical exfoliators has its’ own downsides, and if you can find a lightweight product that’s not too abrasive when rubbed against the skin, stick to manual exfoliatin for daily use.

The Question on Everyone’s Mind: Will It Help Stretch Marks?

The short version? Yes.

The longer version? Also yes. Stretch marks are effectively damaged skin. You know those streaks on your belly or breasts that have become the bane of your existence? That’s scarred skin, and we need to remove those affected old skin layers, for new, healthy ones to grow.

Regular exfoliation encourages a faster cell turnover and reduces the appearance of stretch marks. It can also boost collagen and elastin production (those things that keep your skin bouncy and firm), and so, smooth over your scars.

Exfoliating stretch marks also works because by rubbing away dead cells and dirt, you ensure that your skin can genuinely absorb your stretch mark cream or body butter and reap all its’ benefits.

This method can help fade away existing marks, as well as prevent the apparition of new ones, by keeping the skin clean and well-moisturized. Proper hydration is key to a stretch mark-free body, and you can only truly moisturize by reducing dead, dry skin first.

But does It Work on old (white) Stretch Marks?

Yes. While it’s impossible to make white streaks disappear entirely, it’s possible to significantly fade them, by removing damaged skin cells and thoroughly moisturizing the area.

Exfoliation will help shrink the appearance of your scars and brighten the overall tone of your skin, making old marks less noticeable.

Best time to Do It – Before or After Cleansing?

Most skincare blogs propose exfoliating after you cleanse, but we don’t necessarily agree. According to some experts, it’d be better if you exfoliate before cleaning the skin to properly remove dirt and allow the soap or cleansing lotion to penetrate your skin better.

This way, your skin will be cleaner and more ‘eager’ to soak up your moisturizer afterward.

How to Exfoliate Your Skin – The Right Way

  1. Rub the brush or the scrub over the affected area in small, circular motions, to both stimulate blood circulation and effectively remove impurities. Make sure you don’t rub too hard, so as not to irritate or harm the skin.
  2. Different products have different recommended application times, but as a general rule, insist on any given area for at least twenty seconds.
  3. After practicing the exfoliation method of your choice, wash yourself as usual.
  4. Pat your skin dry with a soft towel. Don’t rub, so as not to agitate the skin even more, and then gently apply a moisturizer/cream of your choice.
  5. If using an at-home chemical peel, cleanse your skin and then apply the peel over clean, dry skin for as long as necessary (check the individual label for this). Also, make sure you know whether or not you need to rinse afterward because leaving the product on for longer than intended can severely irritate the skin.

How Often should I Do It?

There’s been quite the debate going around this. While some recommend daily application, other skincare experts say to do it at most three times a week.

We feel that the answer lies somewhere in between. If you’re using a gentle scrub for your stretch marks that’s not too abrasive, we think it’s okay to exfoliate daily. It’s also worth remembering that we’re trying to get rid of an actual issue here, as opposed to exfoliating for general health purposes.

That being said, if your skin tends to be on the overly-dry side or is very sensitive, then stick to the 2-3 times a week exfoliation, so as not to aggravate it.

So, it varies from person to person, but however, often you decide to do it, make sure you moisturize your skin afterward!

Did you know… Though it seems counterintuitive, exfoliating dry, flaky skin is actually beneficial. By peeling off old skin surface, it gives healthy ones a chance to shine.

Is it Okay to Exfoliate While Pregnant?

Well, you still have skin, don’t you? It isn’t merely a great way of removing damage; it also promotes healthy cell turnover and improves elasticity, which can help prevent the appearance of stretch marks during pregnancy.

So yeah, it’s more than okay to exfoliate while pregnant.

But How can I Apply It to my Belly?

The idea is to keep your baby bump safe from irritating, harmful agents, right?

But if a scrub/exfoliator is irritating or hurting your skin, then you shouldn’t be using it in the first place.

When it comes to applying it to your belly, use extra care, and rub the skin slowly and more gently. Don’t overlook it.

Final Words

Exfoliating should be a big step in your skincare routine, regardless if you’re treating stretch marks or not, and we hope that this article has helped you better understand the exfoliation process and also practice it safely.