Stretch marks are scars that have been formed in the deeper layers of the skin. In fact stretch marks (striae) consist of damaged skin collagen. Collagen fibers have been frayed under the influence of hormonal changes, repeated stress, stretch and strain. After a while this tension results in the breaking of the collagen fibers which causes an abnormal, crinkled surface texture. These less elastic and crinkled marks are called stretch marks.
As with all scars complete removal is impossible because once the skin is damaged it can hardly be repaired fully. But there are certain procedures that can significantly fade stretch marks to make them less noticeable.
A fairly new over the counter stretch marks product is the in 2009 released ScarAway Intensive Stretch Mark Therapy. This particular product might be promising because of the fact that it comes from the manufacturer of the high quality ScarAway brand. But does this new product live up to its expectations?
First lets take a look at its active ingredients. According to the manufacturer’s website; a synthetic peptide, a vitamin, and organic Marrubium extract. Marrubium vulgare is a gray-leaved bushy herb with white flowers which looks a bit like mint. It is also known as White Horehound or Common Horehound. This member of the Labiatae family is, according to Wikipedia, particularly rich in biodiversity and has been used since ancient times by humans for many purposes. Water extract of Marrubium vulgare is widely used as anti-hypertensive treatment in folk medicine. Some other members of the Labiatae family are Hyssopus, Lavandula, Majorana, Melissa, and Mentha.
Then there is the statement that the anti stretch marks effect of this new product has been measured in a 3 months clinical study.
The skin-protecting properties against stretch marks have been shown by a new cell culture assay simulating skin stretching in a glass/acryl box by stretching a monolayer of fibroblasts’ cultures. ScarAway’s innovative Stretch Mark Therapy is proven in vivo and vitro studies to protect stretched skin structure as well as diminish stretch marks.
Summary of efficacy (evaluation questionnaire) * Decreasing in stretch marks’ length 92% * Decreasing in stretch marks’ width 92% * Decreasing in stretch marks’ color 92% * Skin on stretch marks more supple 69% * Disappearance of stretch marks on the treated zone 31%.
(In vivo means: “experimentation using a whole, living organism as opposed to a partial or dead organism, or an in vitro controlled environment.” source Wikipedia)
I remain skeptical. We don’t know how the studies have been conducted nor if they are done on human test persons. The mentioning of a evaluation questionnaire at best suggests this. I could not find any trials showing Marrubium vulgare to be beneficial to skin problems or the skin in general. Which peptide is in the ingredients and what it does also remains unclear.
But maybe there is a synergistic effect. And of course my theorizing here does not proof at all this product should not be able to diminish stretch marks. Medical scientists still do not agree on the exact action of silicone sheets. But they do work and because this product is so new only time will tell if it actually does work. The only review I found online is a positive one. I would love to hear your experiences with this product.
“I used ScarAway Intensive Stretch Mark Therapy during my pregnancy for months 5 through 9 when my skin started to get tight on my abdomen. I have stretch marks on my thighs and breasts from growing and puberty so I was quite resigned to getting them during pregnancy as well. I am happy to report that I had my daughter on December 23rd…healthy and beautiful and… I have NOT ONE STRETCH MARK! I never imagined I would come through with none at all. I used ScarAway Stretch mark cream every day at least morning and night…sometimes I massaged it on 1 or 2 more times during the day if I thought of it. During the last 2 months I applied it when I felt the tight, itchy feel, and it soothed that feeling right away. I am so happy for so many reasons. Thanks ScarAway!
Small study on Tretinoin
Many doctors and dermatologists state that there is no over the counter product that is able to improve stretch marks. Especially not older, white striae. But there are some studies showing vitamin A derivates such as tretinoin to be effective. Here’s a short study abstract I found.
In this small study, topical application of tretinoin 0.1% significantly improved the clinical appearance of pregnancy-related stretch marks. (Rangel, Arias, Garcia, & Lopez-Padilla, 2001). I will get back to on vitamin A and stretch marks later.