Pregnant woman talking happily with her young daughter.

Red stretch marks are probably not on your list of favorite physical features, and that’s understandable. These vivid streaks can leave many feeling self-conscious at some point in life. But truth be told, you’re more likely to get them than not. Research says that develop stretch marks during puberty, and nearly all women experience them after pregnancy.

What makes these squiggly lines a very common annoyance? Below, we share the lowdown on why they appear and the best strategies to address them.

Red vs. White Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are benign scars that form when the and elastin fibers in the skin rupture. Triggers include growth spurts, rapid weight changes, and overuse of corticosteroids. Genetics and health conditions like Cushing’s syndrome can also cause the skin to be more fragile, which may predispose you to stretch marks.

There are two types of stretch marks, and they differ in appearance and stage of development. Red stretch marks or striae rubrae in derm-talk show up when the skin begins to stretch and tear. They tend to feel slightly raised and may cause itchiness, according to the .

And if you’re wondering where the vibrant crimson hue comes from, it’s due to inflammation. This is a reaction caused by the immune system as it attempts to repair and regenerate the damaged area. After six to twelve months, the red streaks turn silvery or even translucent. These then sink into the surrounding skin and appear indented. Although white stretch marks are inconspicuous, they’re less responsive to treatment.

Can Red Stretch Marks Disappear?

There is no possible way to get rid of stretch marks – red or white – permanently. However, if you’re not so fond of how they look, don’t lose hope. and micro-needling are the two most promising methods to fade striae. These in-office procedures stimulate the body’s natural healing response, encouraging collagen production and the growth of new, healthy skin.

Additionally, research says that combining tretinoin cream (a more potent version of retinol) with can improve the appearance of old stretch marks. This approach is well-suited for those with darker skin tones since it minimizes the risk of – a condition associated with laser treatments.

Check with your dermatologist before starting any cosmetic procedure. They can provide a thorough evaluation and recommend the best course of action based on your goals and budget.

How to Take Better Care of Your Crimson Streaks

Love them or hate them, those fiery skin trails are a part of you. Every line tells a story of how much your body has endured and overcome. And just like your other beauty quirks, your red stretch marks deserve some TLC, too.

1. Hydration is key.

Findings published in the show that keeping your skin well-moisturized can help make stretch marks less noticeable. Moreover, proper hydration promotes skin cell regrowth, ultimately reducing the likelihood of new striae formation.

Do the moisture sandwich technique to enhance hydration, especially if you have dry skin. Start with Dove Deeply Nourishing Body Wash, which has NutriumMoisture™ technology. This formula nourishes your skin up to 20 layers deep within the epidermis and effectively locks in moisture. After your shower, apply some lotion, followed by a lightweight oil or .

2. Add exfoliation to your routine.

Buff away dead skin cells from the surface of your tiger stripes with gentle exfoliation. This helps brighten darkened areas near the stretch marks and smooth uneven texture. You can choose from either . The former can increase blood circulation but may be too harsh for sensitive skin. Meanwhile, AHAs and BHAs can also address other skin issues, namely .

3. Be diligent about sun protection.

Ultraviolet light from the sun is a double whammy for your red stretch marks. First, it accelerates melanin production, darkening your lines and bumps. But perhaps the most significant effect is the damage it inflicts on collagen and elastin fibers. Prolonged sun exposure causes the scar to thicken and the skin to lose elasticity.

To protect your skin from , choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and apply it daily, even on cloudy days. If you’ll be spending extended periods outdoors, cover up the areas with red stretch marks to avoid tanning.

Whether or not you want to eliminate the red stretch marks on your body, the choice should be yours alone. You shouldn’t feel pressured to have stripe-free skin, period. After all, they’re not flaws to be fixed or deformities that ruin your beauty.