Stop your average women in the street and she'll tell you that having a baby will call time on your bikini days and leave you with more stripes than a zebra herd on the African Plains! The bane of women for centuries, these little silver lines can leave you reaching for the poncho rather than the panties.
But what is it that causes 78% of women to earn these belly blemishes – and is there anything that you can do about them once you've got them?
Stretch marks can occur with rapid expansion of the skin, such as with pregnancy or weight gain. They can also occur during growth spurts, meaning that for once those teenage princesses are as much at risk as the rest of us – hurrah! Starting off as raised red lines, they slowly turn purple before ending up as flat and silvery. The good news here is that from the moment they appear they normally only get better and less noticeable – but is there anything that you can do to help them on their way?
As they affect your skin, exercise won't be much help; in fact top athletes can suffer from them, meaning that next time your eyeing up those rippling biceps on the beach, have a good hard look for some rippling skin stretched hard around those abs! Moisturising creams can help to keep the skin supple, and the action of rubbing can improve your circulation – so why not splash out on a spa treatment or get that all over body massage that your partners been promising you.
If you want something with a bit more oomph then check out the creams currently vying for your pounds on the supermarket shelves. Typically containing Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA), or vitamin A & E, these creams are not proven clinically, but they still might be worth a try and our girls can let you know which ones worked best for them.
Just remember though, the reason you don't see stretch marks on the stars is because they're airbrushed out by an overworked camera assistant. There's no way you can live up to those standards so the best advice is to wear those stripes with pride and be confident that nearly four out of five women are wearing them too.