Stretch marks can affect both men and women and can occur on more than just the abdomen. Besides pregnancy, they can also be caused during rapid growth during puberty, or from a quick weight loss when on a diet.
When related to growth spurts or weight loss, they can appear on the thighs, hips, upper arms, buttocks, and lower back. There can also be certain medical conditions that cause them, and prolonged use of certain prescription medications.
Stretch marks appear on the surface of the skin when it has been stretched too quickly. It’s the skin’s natural way to adapt to the growth. But the skin can grow too quickly, which tears the skin in the middle layer.
Skin is made up of three primary layers. The stretch marks will form on the dermis or middle layer and affect the upper layer. This is why they take a long time to disappear, unlike a simple cut or scrape on the skin that only affects the epidermis (top layer).
Stretch marks can slowly form, so at first, you give them little concern. Your skin may feel tight, dry, and itchy. While they do eventually fade away, like some scars, they can take years to disappear. They usually turn silvery color over time.
While it’s not a medical concern that will harm you, it’s unsightliness can be a cause for concern. To the extreme, a person can undergo laser treatment or surgery to remove them. There are also expensive prescription creams you can buy, which can help to decrease their appearance.
Using a cream, such as cocoa butter, is a simple treatment, and your skin can benefit from daily moisturizing anyway.
What is Cocoa Butter?
Cocoa butter is exactly what you think it is—an oil made from cocoa beans, the same ones made into chocolate. It’s also known as theobroma oil. Theobroma is one of the beneficial chemicals contained within the cocoa bean, which is why we feel good after eating chocolate.
Cocoa butter is an edible vegetable fat that is extracted from the cocoa bean.
Cocoa butter is commonly used in the beauty, toiletries, and pharmaceutical industries. Often cocoa butter is found on the Pharmaceutical/First Aid shelf of a pharmacy with the Witch Hazel, Aloe Vera Gel, and Hydrogen Peroxide and also in the vegetable oil aisle.
Since cocoa butter is edible, it is 100% safe to use on the surface of the skin. You can use it on every part of your body. You probably don’t want to get it around eyes, but if you do, it can easily be wiped off with a cloth.
Cocoa butter also has a pleasant cocoa butter smell, which is enjoyable for most people. It’s often made into soaps and lotions and is a popular ingredient in skincare products today. Many people choose it over some of the other oils in treating stretch marks because they prefer its smell.
Can Cocoa Butter Soften the Appearance of Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks can be considered scars, but not one caused by a cut or abrasion. Some physicians call them disfiguring lesions, but medically they are called striae, striae distensae (SD), and other lesions that are straight and long in appearance.
Cocoa butter can be used in many ways to reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
- Cocoa butter can be used before their development. Pregnant women can start in month one of their pregnancy by rubbing cocoa butter into their abdomens. This process can be repeated daily until the baby’s birth, and then over the next several weeks as their body resumes its healthy appearance.
- It can be used after pregnancy to reduce the appearance of stretch marks as the skin is shrinking back into its standard shape.
- It can be used during a weight loss program.
- It’s useful for teenager’s growth spurts.
The cocoa butter will soften and moisturize the skin, which has the natural effect of decreasing the stretch marks’ appearance.
Cocoa butter also contains six influential fatty acids—including linoleic and stearic—which provide sloughing and moisturizing properties. Over time, these help speed up healing, which is a necessary step in the reduction of wrinkles. Cocoa butter also contains antioxidants, which provide a double dose of beneficial properties to the skin.
How Can I Apply Cocoa Butter to Reduce the Appearance of Stretch Marks?
Pregnant women can start in month one of their pregnancy by rubbing cocoa butter into their abdomens. This process can be repeated daily until the birth day, and then over the next several weeks as their body resumes its usual appearance. Once the baby has been born, the cocoa butter should continue to be used.
Use about 10 ml of cocoa butter up to three times a day, or more if you remember. Rub it into your body regions of concern. While the butter washes nicely out of most sheets, towels, and clothes, you may wish to avoid wearing your good silk blouse that day as silk can absorb the grease and look unsightly.
Cocoa butter can be used as a moisturizer all over the body, from face, neck, body, arms, and legs. It not only works to reduce stretch marks if you’re undergoing a weight loss and exercise plan but can help make you feel better after a workout by giving yourself a massage with the cocoa butter afterward.
Advice Before Buying Cocoa Butter
Be sure to read the labels before you buy your container or jar of cocoa butter. You want to purchase it in as pure of a form as possible. Certain lotions are often diluted and contain little cocoa butter.
Generally, cocoa butter will cost more than coconut oil in the same quantity (grams).
You can use cocoa butter on any part of your body, including as a lip balm. You can also use it on cuts and abrasions to prevent scarring, but if redness or itchiness occurs, discontinue use.
Unlike chocolate, cocoa butter contains only trace amounts of caffeine and theobromine, so it’s perfectly safe even for pregnant women and children to use.
As long as your pet doesn’t eat your jar of cocoa butter, it’s okay if they lick skin that has been treated with cocoa butter on occasion. Most of the harmful chemicals for pets—caffeine, theobromine, etc.—are in minute traces in the cocoa butter.