Symptomatic of a growth spurt - upwards, outwards, any-which-way-wards - stretch marks are the bane of many women's existence. Whether freshly-hatched or long-standing silvery snail trails, very few of use will make it through without a battle scar or two - our 'badge of honour' for surviving puberty or incubating the next generation (GIRL POWER). And while there's really nothing not to love about stretch marks - there's nothing shameful about earning the odd (tiger) stripe for growing up (or growing life) - there are still lots of us who'd prefer to prevent or diminish their obviousness...

So, although there's no iron-clad way to stop stretch marks appearing - or magical wand that will banish those silver-white threads from your legs - there are steps you can take to help make them less visible (just in time for swimsuit season).

Prevention is better than cure...

We know, we know... the most annoying advice ever BUT, if you've just passed a pregnancy test or are/have a pre-teenage dependent to look after, keep skin soft and supple by ensuring that you 'feed' it on the regular. Use omega-rich lotions to boost elasticity; stretch marks are caused when skin has to expand waaaaay too quickly, so boosting its resilience helps minimise the likelihood of scarring. 

Brimming with marula oil, African Botanics' {Stretchmark Botanical Body Oil} works to elasticise and maximise skin's strength - so it's better equipped to withstand the stresses of a growth spurt. Take time to 'work' it in to skin, concentrating on the most vulnerable areas (thighs and tummy) - the massage triggers bloodflow which supports cellular function.

Choose your foods...

As with everything, healthy skin starts from within, so eating foods brimming with fatty acids (nuts, eggs, avocados etc.) helps to fortify its fragile fabric. Make sure you're also getting your recommended vitamin C intake (it's stimulates the synthesis of collagen), and boost your zinc consumption where possible (it helps to combat inflammation and support the healing process). Spinach, seeds and lean red meat are all great sources, as well as mushrooms, cashew nuts and dark, cacao-rich chocolate.

Stay hydrated...

Drink plenty of water (6-8 glasses a day) and try to avoid caffeinated drinks (they counteract the water you put in). It sounds obvious but hydration is essential for enhancing your skin's elasticity and 'stretch' - when it's supple and soft it's much better equipped to contend with trauma so... drink up! 

Take immediate steps...

The longer you take to react, the less impact your efforts will make. As with a wound, the skin needs help to 'knit' together, so religiously apply targeted treatments to diminish any redness and encourage cellular regeneration. HealGel's incredible {HealGel Intensive} was created by a team of plastic surgeons to diminish post-procedural 'down time'. With a complex of potent, collagen-stimulating peptides and amino acids, this works to reduce inflammation, aid cell renewal and lessen the look of both new and old scars. 

Don't despair...

If your stretch marks make you miserable, it's never too late to improve their appearance. Developed by Dr. Ronald Moy - a pioneering dermatologist and global expert in the fields of ageing and skin cancer - the {DNA Scar Therapy} boasts both DNA Renewal Enzymes and Epidermal Growth Factor to actively 'undo' existing damage. Although unlikely to erase your marks completely, when used religiously this potent potion will have a dramatic impact on the tone and texture of your skin. 

Cover-up...

And if you want an immediate fix look no further than Vita Liberata's {Body Blur} - an HD-ready body bronzer that diffuses light and camouflages to disguise those tell-tale snail trails. Long-wearing and streak-resistant, it's the perfect way to beautify those 'bits' that rarely see the light of day - just blend from top to a toe to get a fake a healthy (scar-free) glow. 

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