Your skin is a lot of things, but one thing it isn’t is lazy. Your skin is constantly making new skin cells to replace the old ones. Not, like, three or four new cells; we’re talking 30,000 to 40,000 EVERY DAY. Your skin makes Beyonce look lazy.

But sometimes, despite all this epic effort, your skin just can’t keep up.

Enter: stretch marks.

Ok, what are they?

Stretch marks are little wiggly stripes or marks on your body that look like tiger stripes. We think they’re actually pretty cool. Often they start out red, pink or purplish in colour, before eventually fading to a silvery-pale colour not far off your natural skintone.

Stretch marks can pop up all over your body, but they’ll most likely make an appearance on the areas of your body where fat is stored – ie. the soft bits, such as your tummy, boobs, bum, upper arms and thighs.

Why is this happening? Whyyyy?

Stretch marks happen when your skin is pulled by rapid growth or (whaddya know) stretching.

Skin is normally super elastic, but when your body changes rapidly, it can struggle to churn out those new cells quick enough. Racing cars have go-faster stripes, and so does your body.

TL;DR? Here's the important stuff:
  • Stretch marks often start out red or purplish, before eventually fading to a silvery-pale colour that’s much less noticeable.
  • They can pop up all over your body, but they're most commonly on the softer areas of your body like your tummy, boobs, bum, upper arms and thighs.
  • Stretch marks aren’t harmful or anything to be embarrassed about. Most people find they fade over time and they don’t even notice them after a while. But keeping your skin soft with a nice body lotion is never a bad plan.

Stretch marks can happen in adulthood too. But puberty, while your body is undergoing a loooottttt of changes, is prime stretch mark time for many girls (and boys. #Equality). During this time your body expands in all sorts of places and directions; your hips widen, your boobs grow, you might have a growth spurt or two, and you might notice stretch marks appear.

But don’t panic, they’re perfectly natural – and tbh, about 300% less noticeable than you think they are.

What do I need to do about them?

Nothing! Stretch marks aren’t harmful – they’re just a reality of being a human person with skin. So embrace them, love them, buy them flowers and sing them long, slow ballads.

If you do feel self conscious about them, there are lots of lotions and potions out there designed to minimise stretch marks. They might not work the miracles they promise, but a good moisturiser never hurt anyone. And if bronzed limbs are your bag, some people swear by fake tan too.

But most people find that their stretch marks just fade on their own over time, and after a while they don’t even notice them. So relax.

And if you ever find yourself feeling anxious about stretch marks, just remember: you are a tiger, you earned your stripes. Own it.

Image: Amber Griffin

What are stretch marks – and more importantly, how can I get rid of them? Dr Yaz takes us through everything you could possibly need to know about them.

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