Did you know it over 80% of Americans have bar marks?
The stretch marks, medically known as "striae distensae", seem to have a moment lately.
From brands that take initiatives to stop photon shopping out bar marks on their models, to rappers who violate loving a woman with bar features, it seems like we can't seem to forget them.
Chances are you won't be able to keep your markers from your hips or your chest, or maybe not in your mind when the swimsuit season comes around.
But besides that our stretch marks would at least pay rents if they will live permanently on their stomachs, chances are that you actually do not know much about bar marks (and you are not alone).
Perhaps part of the approval of bar features is knowing where they come from, how they can change over time and how we can lovingly treat them instead of trying to scrub them off with a magical moisturizer that promises us the world.
Well, you're lucky, because that's exactly what we're getting into today!
We'll talk about bar marks.
From the science behind them to the methods of fading them, to the body-positive "stretch marks acceptance" movement that has taken the pop culture by storm.
Let's take it!
Where are the bar marks from?
Chances are you noticed your first bar marks sometime in your teens, after puberty.
Along with acne, suddenly smelly forearms and budding body hair, we also had to deal with some new "tiger strips" on our bodies – good!
Puberty is one of the most common times for the body to get bar characteristics, and this is because bar marks occur when the body's skin is drawn for rapid growth.
Of course, your body has been growing for a large part of your life, so why do we only get stretch marks sometimes?
Well, it's about the speed and quantity you grow on.
The skin is naturally very elastic, but when stretched (which means too fast or too large a volume at a time), your body's normal collagen production interferes and stretch marks can be formed.
The skin's top layer (epidermis) and the second layer of the skin (dermis) come to play here.
Dermis contains collagen bundles, which are drawn up when the skin has to stretch too quickly.
These collagen bundles are torn away from the larger bundle.
When the skin stops growing, these collagen bundles are evident in the epidermis and voila – now you have bar marks.
I think it is safe to say that most of us have got 10-15 pounds over a year before, and we probably didn't get bar features because the body can adjust during that time period.
But if we were to get 20 + pounds in a month? That's when you might start to see some bar marks.
Because of this, there are two major periods where women are likely to get some stretch marks: puberty and pregnancy.
In fact, there have been historical artifacts documenting the presence of bar marks (and people trying to get rid of bar marks), since antiquity.
Ancient Egyptian women had their own special oils that they would rub on their postpartum bockies in an attempt to reduce the appearance of their bar marks.
It is not surprising that the most common areas for women to have bar marks lie around the breasts, buttocks, thighs and hips (all areas that tend to grow rapidly during both puberty and / or pregnancy).
As I mentioned, anyone who has ever gone through a period of rapid weight gain will probably also see bar marks – and that doesn't necessarily mean fat.
In fact, it is a common myth that bar marks are a sign that you need to lose weight – it is totally untrue!
Stretch marks often occur on men and women who are bodybuilders because of their rapid growth in the muscles, which you can imagine causes the skin to stretch a lot.
If you just did a double-take when reading that sentence, here's a clarification: guys can also get bar marks!
Because males do not go through similar bodily processes that women do (re: puberty and pregnancy), they are less likely to get bar marks, but it is definitely possible!
In fact, studies estimate that 40 percent of men will develop bar marks.
Men usually get bar marks on their upper thighs, upper arms, buttocks and back.
But some people, whether men or women, are more likely to develop bar marks than others.
A great differentiator? How thick your skin is (and I mean literally, not metaphorically).
If you have a naturally thicker skin with a lot of elasticity, you are less likely to develop stretch marks.
You may also be more likely to get pronounced bar marks if you have a naturally darker skin or sunbathing.
So if you needed another reason to skip the solarium or slather on extra sunscreen before your day at the beach, this is it!
UV exposure can make old bar features seem worse (not to mention death of other disadvantages of getting too much sun).
When in doubt, always double on sunscreen.
Another reason why you see more strokes than you expect? Steroid-containing skin creams or Cushing's syndrome.
Cushing's syndrome is a condition that exposes your body to high levels of cortisone for long periods.
You can read more about cortisone and Cushing's syndrome here.
Creams such as hydrocortisone, when used for long periods, can cause your body to produce bar marks.
The same applies to people taking oral corticosteroid supplements.
These creams and oral supplements are commonly used for allergic reactions and inflammation, as well as for asthma and arthritis.
Stretch marks away, these types of treatments may have other serious side effects, so be sure to do your own research and listen carefully to your doctor's prescribing information!
How the stretch marks appear over time
If you catch your bar marks in their early stages, you will notice them as reddish or purple lines.
Sometimes they are hidden and you can physically feel them.
Sometimes they are textured in a way that almost looks and feels like scar tissue.
In some people, early markers can also be itchy.
Back to Puberty – I remember some of my friends finding purple lines and freaking out!
But the reason why bar features become colorful in the early stages is that when collagen tears, the blood vessels can also break, making the marks look almost like linear bruises.
But as you have noticed, bar fever naturally fades on its own over time – even if you do nothing to them.
Eventually, your tiger strips will fade into a more whitish or clear color, and sometimes they eventually become almost invisible or simply shiny in some lighting.
While some people argue that the treatment of your bar marks can help them get rid of them faster, there is no concrete evidence of this.
As I mentioned, the bar quality naturally suppresses, so it's hard to tell if some methods really work or if it's just time.
Can you really get rid of your stretch marks?
Here's the bad news first: No matter what you do (or how much money you spend), you'll probably never be able to get rid of your bar marks.
Some well-groomed creams can tell something else, but doctors after doctors have confirmed that there is no "cure" for bar marks.
Here are the good news: There are some methods to make your bar marks fade, or simply to make them less noticeable.
How to make your stretch marks less noticeable
Okay, so maybe you can never erase your bar marks, but that doesn't mean you can't work to make them less noticeable (or simply cover them up with a good accident).
Here are some of my favorite, most effective ways to minimize the appearance of bar marks.
Unfortunately, most current treatments such as Bio-Oil that promise to reduce the appearance of bar feelings do not actually cause any real damage to your tiger strips.
But you can certainly give them a try!
StriVectin SD Advanced Intensive Concentrate for wrinkles and stretch marks moisturizes the skin while increasing collagen to reduce the appearance of bar marks.
Moisturizing the skin can help reduce the spread of your stretch marks temporarily (and prevent new bar marks).
This Body milk from Glo Skin Beauty contains sweet almond oil, shea butter, vitamin E and squalene for beautifully moistened skin.
GM Collin Firming Cream is also an alternative to moisturizing the skin and improving its elasticity, preventing the formation of new bar marks.
Tinted lotions can help temporarily reduce the appearance of bar marks, which is why you may sometimes feel current solutions work.
If you want to go home, current route, I recommend that you stick to something organic and natural, like cocoa or shea Butter!
My Alana Mitchell Organic MCT facial oil is completely natural and versatile, so you can apply it to your body for all-encompassing moisture.
But at the end of the day, if you really feel that you need to get rid of your bar marks, you probably have to attack the "problem" where it came from – inside your body, not at the surface!
I am a great advocate for sunless self-tanner as a replacement for sun exposure, but did you know that it can also help mask your bar marks?
Unlike a "real" sun, which will make your line markings more pronounced, a sunlit tanning will help "cover" the bar marks by applying a color to help the clearly colored bar marks blend with your skin.
I love personally Suntegrity's self-tanner formula.
Coola also offers a long lasting Solfri Tan Dry Oil Body Mist It has got good reviews.
This may not be the most practical option for daily wear, but if you feel self-conscious about certain brands and want to see your best at special occasions, there is no reason not to use a small concealer on your body as you would at your face!
Here is one fast video tutorial on how to cover the markers with makeup.
Of course, it is probably not the best option if you are looking for a poolside solution, but it can be exactly what you need to know your best for family photography!
If you want an overall bronze look, I recommend Image Skin Care Body Spa Face and Body Bronzer.
If you really want to eradicate your bar marks and you have a great beauty budget, you might want to consider laser treatments to help fade your bar marks.
In general, stretch marks will only require treatment (although older stretch marks may be more difficult to treat) and cost you anywhere from $ 2,000 to $ 6,000.
The laser process is similar to a microprocessor (remember it vampire facial?) and works by traumatizing the skin, which then causes increased collagen production in the area.
Microneedling with PRP
Another micronutrient alternative is microprocessing with PRP, which is a platelet-rich plasma.
PRP is a "growth factor" fluid that is said to help with inflammation and reduce the appearance of the wound.
Everywhere from three to six sessions is recommended, and each session costs from $ 1000 to $ 3000.
It is unclear how well this treatment works, and you will not see results until a few months after the procedure, but you can certainly see the difference when checking before and after photos from women who have tried it.
Just be aware that treatments like these can be dangerous, and you should always consult your doctor first.
Increase your collagen
Since collagen is a factor in the creation of bar features, some people have assumed that the onset of collagen levels may help prevent new bar marks or fade out old ones.
While I'm a big fan of collagen for its other benefits (e.g. which makes your skin look nicer and younger), the jury is still out if it can really help with bar marks.
As you probably have heard, many women put on collagen supplements in their diets, mostly in the form of collagen powder or gums.
However, science has not really returned any reported benefits.
Please do not add contribution into your diet without consulting your doctor first!
Specific ingredients that are said to treat bar marks
As I mentioned earlier, there are not a lot of current solutions that will work to permanently reduce the appearance of the markers, but there are some ingredients that can make a difference (or at least some people claim they do) especially if you treat your stretch marks early .
Many doctors swear by retinoids for stretch marking duty.
Therefore, they can be on something:
You probably know retinoids from your anti-aging products.
This is because retinoid creams are a vitamin A derived product that works to build collagen.
Retinols work to make these collagen bundles (you know, those we talked about earlier) healthier and thicker.
Just as the retinoids you use on your face are patiently important and you may experience some dryness at first.
But with the right prescription retinoid and regular application, you can notice that your bar marks are beginning to fade.
Just keep in mind that you should not use retinol while you are pregnant, and they do not work in the prevention of streaks as they can for wrinkles.
You've probably already heard good things about vitamin E to treat scar tissue and sunburn.
This is because vitamin E helps signal the body's cells – warns them of skin that needs repair.
As an antioxidant, vitamin E can also potentially act as a preventive stretch marking solution by enhancing collagen fibers and protecting them from free radicals.
Credit: glamouruk & courtneyewebb
Embracing Them: Stretch Mark Positivity Movement
At the end of the day, the bars are part of what makes you, you.
It is easy to look for a bathing suit ad and wish we had perfect skin as the model, but it is also easy to forget that a lot of picture shopping went into that ad. That's why many brands push back against heavy picture hopping.
In fact, brands are like ASOS, Goal, and Aerie has promised to stop photohopping out the natural (and beautiful) markers on their models.
Even Victoria's Secret, famous for giving girls (& women) unrealistic #bodygoals, dabbled in Photoshop-free movement of Release an ad with bar marks as a wonderful accessory to their Fantasy Bra.
I know what you are thinking – "Okay, Alana, I would be comfortable with my markers if I had a Victoria's Secret model" – and I get it all!
Brands still have a long way to go when it comes to representing real women who carry their products, but this child goes into the barcode's acceptance movement is still a win in my eyes!
And it seems to have a ripple effect.
Real women like you and I have included social media to proudly show our bar marks – for who said they were something to be ashamed of?
In 2017, supermodel Chrissy Teigen jumped on #loveyourlines the train and took on Twitter to show its approval of the bar mark.
Other hashtags like #thighreading and #effyourbeautystandards also work to remind us everything that self-love begins within.
After all, what makes us want to cover up our bar marks in the first place?
Sometimes it almost seems like the "decision" that the bar marks were "bad" is just another idea that makes women feel bad about what makes us women – or simply sell us more products that we don't need.
If you're still not sold on the idea that your bar marks aren't a pity, I recommend listening to Kendrick's "Humble?"
Here is the line (from the clean version) that got the Internet buzzing:
"Show me something natural I want to know some markers. "
You are beautiful – and so are your bar marks.
While I think learning to accept your "tiger strips" is the way to go (especially since there are no guaranteed methods to delete them completely), I also understand that each person has their own uncertainties.
I hope you found some useful information in this blog post!
Whether that means you will join the women on social media that you know, or you'll save on some laser treatment – you go, girl!
Beauties, how did you come to love and accept your bar marks? Have you ever tried some solutions to get rid of them? How do you feel about the positivity movement of the stretch marker? I would love to read your comments!