What are stretch marks?

Stretch marks (striae) are indented streaks on the body that typically appear on the stomach, breasts, hips or bottom. They occur when the dermis (the thickest layer of skin) has to stretch quickly due to rapid weight gain or a growth spurt.

They're very common in pregnant women, especially during the last trimester, but they can occur anytime the skin becomes overstretched, such as rapid growth spurts during puberty or when bodybuilding.

When is the best time to treat stretch marks?

There are two forms of stretch marks: striae rubrae and striae albae. Striae rubrae are considered the early form, which are often red, sometimes slightly raised and don’t recur. Over time these stretch marks lighten and develop a pale, wrinkled appearance known as striae albae, which also don’t recur but are permanent.

Striae rubrae respond better to treatment, so it is recommended to treat stretch marks when they first appear.

What is the best way to treat stretch marks?

While stretch marks are permanent, there are clinically proven ways to reduce their appearance, both via topicals and devices.


Despite there being numerous commercially available topical products for the treatment of stretch marks, very few have sufficient levels of evidence to support their use. Products using TECA™ (or centella asiatica) and tretinoin have the strongest evidence to support their claims.

For example, in a study by Laugel et al. of 40 postpartum women with stretch marks, half were given a 1% TECA™ formulation, and half a placebo cream to use twice daily over 3 months. The TECA™ formulation reduced the length of stretch marks by 26%, compared to 3% with the placebo, and the width by 40%, compared to 6%. It was also twice as effective at reducing the intensity of colour of the stretch marks compared to the placebo. However, it’s worth noting that TECA™ has only been proven at a 1% dose, so you won’t know if it’s being used at an effective dose unless brands disclose this.

Similarly in a study by Kang et al. tretinoin was proven to reduce the length and width of stretch marks. However, tretinoin should be used carefully as it typically requires a prescription for the dose at which it has been proved effective and it isn’t classified as safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.


Three devices that have been clinically proven to reduce the appearance of stretch marks are microneedling, laser and microdermabrasion; however, evidence supporting the use of microneedling was the strongest.

Park et al. conducted a study on 16 Korean women with stretch marks. Patients used a 1.5mm microneedling tool/dermaroller at 4-week intervals. Three months after the last treatment, all patients showed improved skin texture, tightness, and colour, with an “excellent” improvement noted for seven of the patients.

In addition, in studies by Khater et al. and Nassar et al. microneedling was effective on 90% of patients, compared to 50% in the laser-treated and microdermabrasion-treated groups.

Why Striā Lab?

At Striā Lab, we review the clinical evidence on all stretch mark treatments, and only offer products that are backed by the strongest-possible evidence. Some products on the market have actually been clinically proven to be ineffective, such as cocoa butter, yet it’s heavily pushed to pregnant women as an effective prevention treatment.

That’s why we promise to do the research for you and only create products we know will help. We also promise to be transparent about the doses of our actives – unlike many other brands – so that you know they are being used at doses clinically proven to work.

And if our products don’t meet your expectations, we’ll give you your money back, no questions asked.


Khater MH, Khattab FM, Abdelhaleem MR. (2016). Treatment of striae distensae with needling therapy versus CO2 fractional laser. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 18:75–79.

C. Laugel et al. (1999). Evaluation of the clinical and echographic efficacy of a cream with Centella asiatica in the treatment of stretch marks. Les Nouvelles dermatologiques, 18; 412-416.

Mallol, J., Belda, M., Costa, D., Noval, A. & Sola, M. (1991). Prophylaxis of Striae gravidarum with a topical formulation. A double-blind trial, Int J Cosmet Sci., 13(1), 51-57. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19291041

Nassar A, Ghomey S, El Gohary Y, El-Desoky F. (2016). Treatment of striae distensae with needling therapy versus microdermabrasion with sonophoresis. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 18:330–334.

Park KY, Kim HK, Kim SE, Kim BJ, Kim MN. (2012). Treatment of striae distensae using needling therapy: a pilot study. Dermatol Surg. 38:1823–1828.

Ud-Din, S., McGeorge, and D., Bayat, A. (2016). Topical management of striae distensae (stretch marks): prevention and therapy of striae rubrae and albae. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. 30(2): 211–222.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5057295/