The truth is that all women regardless of the color of their skin or race, will experience stretch marks in much the same way…
Rapid increases in size due to pregnancy, hormonal change or just regular weight gain – will ensure that these unwanted lines will form on parts of the body which cannot cope with this excess stretching of the skin. Plain & Simple.
However there are certainly some differences in treatment protocols. Not all methods are as effective on women with darker skin. The difference is actually more of a cosmetic one. If you have greater levels of melanin in the skin, the older & more faded your stretch marks become, the more visible they tend to be.
The Difference Between Light & Dark Stretch Marks
This is simply a matter of age. As in in how fresh the marks on your body are. Newly formed lines (striae rubra) will be reddish or purple in color, regardless of your overall skin tone. This is due to the skin within the top two layers (epidermis & dermis) rupturing & becoming thin enough to exposure the blood vessels in the third layer (hypodermis).
As the skin begins to heal & the collagen fibers start to rebuild within the structural layers of the skin, stretch marks will begin to fade to a white or silver complexion. The medical term for these is striae distensae alba. Again, this will be regardless of base skin color. The methods of treating these lines at the varying stages of their development will also differ.
Natural compounds & creams can work great as a preventative measure to reduce stretch mark formation or during the first few weeks of their formation, when they are darker in color. Whilst some creams are still effective after this 6 week stage, the avenues for reduction of mature scarring typically require minor medical procedure now. When lesions become lighter & faded, laser therapy or microdermabrasion are your best options. More on this later…
African Remedies For Stretch Marks
If you have a darker skin tone you essentially start your skin care regime the same as any other protocol, I.e. with the natural home remedies. I have written more extensively on these compounds ans how best to implement the treatments in a dedicated article here.
To summarize some of the substances which have a high efficacy level when it comes to treating fresh skin blemishes, check out the list below:
- Vitamin E
- Aloe Vera
- Cocoa Butter
- Coffee/Sugar Scrub
- Grape Seed Oil
- Castor/Argan Oil
- Egg Whites
- Potato/Lemon Juice
Once you have tried the above treatments, the next step is try out the various topical creams. The two most common choices here are Tretinoin Cream (only effective on stretch marks up to 6 weeks old) and Revitol Cream (effective on skin scarring both old & new).
How To Hide Stretch Marks On Dark Skin
Whilst you should be attempting to heal the lines on your body with the various treatment protocols including the natural compounds & various medical techniques. There is one thing you can do in the mean time which can help with confidence & possibly speed up the healing process through a more positive thought mindset – and that is to hide or conceal your stretch marks.
Skin scarring can be almost unavoidable depending on your hereditary make-up or for pregnant women for instance. That is not to say you are helpless in covering them up. It just takes a little planning and practice to do so. The following steps will help you decide the best method to do this for your own skin:
Head over to your local department store & find the make-up/cosmetics section which provides some free samples for you to try out on your skin. This is important as you want to be able to determine what is the best foundation & concealer color for your skin tone before spending any hard earned money on the products.
Keep in mind that the skin on your stomach, thighs, hips etc (where you have your marks) might be a shade lighter or darker than your face. So try & get the cosmetic counter assistant to help you match the products to an area of skin which most closely matches the area you want to conceal. Don’t be shy, they will always understand & be happy to match with the color just above your hip bone for instance.
Once you have identified the correct color, it’s now time to apply the concealer to your skin. Ensure you are using your middle finger to dab the product on lightly, applying cosmetics with the heavier index finger, tends to result in a thicker layer being applied at once. You want to avoid this as building up multiple thinner layers is better than a single thick layer.
Keep applying these layers until the stretch mark line is flush with your normal skin. The color of the line is typically darker than the surrounding skin so you may want to use a lighter concealer to mask the discoloration difference.
Take a clean make-up sponge & apply some darker foundation to it. Proceed to dab the foundation over the concealer & 1-2 inches around the spot to blend in for a more even & authentic look. The foundation you are using should be a closer match to your natural skin tone compared to the concealer, to blend over this lower layer. Again, to achieve that more natural look.
Finally, apply some light powder to your make-up to ensure it sets and now reflects your skin’s natural texture. Whilst most cosmetic concealer solutions have traditionally been designed for Caucasian skin, brands such as Sephora, Cover Girl and M.A.C. have now specially created make-up lines for African women. Therefore you can easily find a translucent or loose powder in a darker shade to match it to your skin tone.
For those wanting a quick video tutorial on how this is done, check out this short YouTube clip:
If you are require a more permanent solution, you may opt for reconstructive tattooing or permanent make-up. Whilst I always suggest starting with the oils and creams to begin with (as these lotions can get you a 50-70% reduction in stretch mark appearance). However after this point, it might be time to try out the more serious measures, especially when there is structural damage to the connective tissue beneath the surface layer of the skin.
So you want to consult your local aesthetician regarding a permanent make-up to cover up your stretch marks in your precise skin tone. There is no shame in doing this and it can have a profound effect on improving your own self-esteem if you do manage to achieve a considerable reduction in your battle scars.
- Remember to plan your day in advance when using cosmetics to cover up your stretch marks. Refrain from exposing your skin to excessive moisture and water. This will include bathing, swimming or heavy perspiration.
- Ensure you pack your make-up with you at all times in a small bag in order to apply a quick touch up whenever its required. Better safe than sorry!
- And finally always minimize your exposure to the sun and use a sunscreen on your stretch marks when you do go down to the beach. Sun exposure will ensure the lines of your body will become more prominent as well as potentially causing unwanted skin damage.
Dark Stretch Mark Removal
Applying Tretinoin cream to the skin can be a great start. However as I have already stated – this treatment is really only effective on scars which are reasonably fresh. Marks which are six weeks old or and newer. The cream is applied to the affected area of skin 2-3 times daily until the lines begin to fade over time.
But to really achieve a significant amount of dark stretch mark reduction, you will have to undergo some form of minor medical procedure. Always consult your dermatologist to see what is the most beneficial & safest treatment for your skin. I have detailed the two main options below.
Microdermabrasion For Stretch Marks On Black Skin
Microdermadrasion is one of the most effective methods for treating stretch marks – period! Regardless if you are light skinned or a women of color. This great micro procedure entails getting a multitude of mini punctures on the affected area of skin, often blasted with small crystals. This creates an extremely effective exfoliation effect & removes any dead layer surface cells ready for rejuvenation.
This treatment works great for those stubborn marks you’ve had for years now. When the skin in penetrated deep enough, structural damage (then healing) can occur within the middle dermis layer where the collagen & elstin fibers lay. It may take anywhere between 6-8 sessions to discern any great noticeable difference on skin appearance.
Laser Treatments are a little more tricky on black skin. The wrong type of laser treatment can cause more damage than good, with burning & additional discoloration (hypopigmentation) being the main things to watch out for. This type of treatment has generally been more difficult to perform & potentially more dangerous for darker skinned patients.
Essentially, the greater amount of pigment within a person’s skin, the more carefully it must be treated. In order to reduce the risk of any post procedure pigment change, it’s critical to decrease the density of the laser. This means that the laser treatment will be lower strength and the person will require more sessions.
However newer technology has come on board within recent years to help improve both the efficiency & safety in this regard. One of those methods is the excimer laser, a popular choice which works by stimulating melanin production in lighter lines/lesions so they grow darker & match the surrounding skin.
Physicians will also usually opt for longer wave lasers like the YAG laser on darker skinned individuals, as the higher melanin levels within the skin interferes with the short wave lasers most commonly used by doctors and clinics around the country. Again, make sure to consult with someone who has ample experience with African skin types & don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions!
Which ever treatment path you decide to go down, make sure you stick with it & you will eventually see the results you are looking for!
Best of luck.