Stretch marks appear when the skin overstretches and tears the deep fibers. The resulting scar tissue shows up as discolored lines of pink, reddish-brown or brown across the skin. This usually happens during pregnancy or rapid fluctuations in weight. Stretch marks caused by pregnancy have the name striae gravidarum. Common areas for stretch marks are the abdomen, hips, breasts and buttocks.
Dating back thousands of years, aromatherapy uses essential oils, which are natural essences distilled from plants and flowers for natural healing purposes. These extracts have physiological, psychological and spiritual benefits. By applying specified essential oils to the skin during pregnancy, you might not even get stretch marks at all. If you already have stretch marks, however, essential oils can help you.
The following essential oils have properties that can help heal stretch marks: lavender, neroli, patchouli, mandarin, rose geranium, vetiver, jasmine and helichrysum. Each has regenerative effects that slow down aging of the skin, improve elasticity and moisturize the skin to heal damaged skin cells.
Because essential oils are so powerful, always mix them with a carrier oil or lotion before applying to your skin. Some good carrier oils are almond, apricot kernel, jojoba, primrose and carrot.
Valerie Ann Worwood, author of "The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy," prescribes this tummy-rub treatment during pregnancy: Mix 2 tbsp. almond oil, 1 tbsp. wheat-germ oil (which contains vitamins A and E), 10 drops borage seed oil and 5 drops carrot oil. Add 7 drops rose, 6 drops lavender and 5 drops tangerine essential oils and mix thoroughly. Massage a small amount onto the upper and lower abdomen, thighs, buttocks, hips and breasts. Use within two months. Carrier oils mixed with essential oils don't last long.
Cocoa butter is another helpful treatment for stretch marks and also works well with essential oils. In "The Aromatherapy Companion," Victoria H. Edwards recommends melting 1 oz. cocoa butter over low heat and adding 4 drops jasmine essential oil and 12 drops mandarin essential oil. Store the mixture in a jar. Rub twice a day on abdomen, hips and breasts.
To help avoid stretch marks, stay out of the sun, eat plenty of protein and essential fatty acids, drink water regularly, keep skin well-moisturized and tone muscles with frequent exercise.