Stretch marks develop because of pregnancy, weight loss or gain, growth spurts or hormones. These red, jagged lines can be alarming when they show up on your skin, but they usually fade to a silvery-white shade. Stretch marks never really go away, although you can cover them up if they bug you. Instead of plastic surgery and expensive skin treatments, take steps to hide your marks with concealer or self-tanner.
Select a concealer that matches the shade of your stretch marks. Do not choose a concealer that's too light, because it won't hide anything and may make the marks look worse. Pick a heavy concealer that won't slide off.
Dip a small makeup brush into the concealer. Using small, gentle strokes, pat the concealer over the marks in light layers.
Dust a pinch of loose powder over the concealer to help set the makeup in place.
Apply a dab of pearly cream to indented marks; the cream reflects light so the stretch marks will be less noticeable. Smooth the cream over the marks gently.
Moisten a washcloth with warm water, then rub your skin with it using small, circular motions. This exfoliates your skin, so self-tanner will go on more easily. Dry yourself off well with a towel.
Apply the self-tanner to your arms, torso, thighs and legs, and rub the product in well with circular motions. Apply self-tanner all over even if you have stretch marks only on your legs or stomach. Applying self-tanner only to the stretch marks can make them more noticeable.
Extend the self-tanner lightly from your ankles to your feet and your wrists to your hands. This blending makes the tan look more natural.
Dip a cotton swab into some self-tanner if your stretch marks are white or light in color. Paint a thin layer of self-tanner over each mark. If the stretch marks are still visible after the self-tanner dries, apply a little more.
Dampen a washcloth and gently wipe knees, elbows and ankles, which are areas that absorb more color than other parts of the body.
Allow the self-tanner to dry for at least 10 minutes before getting dressed. Avoid sweating or performing strenuous physical activity for the next three hours.
Dermatologists may be able to fade stretch marks with intense-pulse light, or IPL, therapy. The procedure turns red stretch marks white. Other options include a resurfacing laser and microdermabrasion.
Creams containing alpha-hydroxy acids, vitamin C or vitamin A may help lessen the appearance of dark-colored marks.