This isn’t the easiest of posts, mostly because it’s a bit like saying, “I’m not a great beauty editor”. It is also – in part – a bit negative, and I’ve made it my business to leave that side of blogging well alone. But it’s about time I came clean.
Despite having the most popular stretch mark oils and creams at my disposal throughout my pregnancy, I have the most horrendous stretch marks. I’m not being dramatic – beauty therapists, editors and experts alike have involuntarily gasped when I lift my top. I didn’t neglect my skin during pregnancy though – rather than relying on the myth that you’ll follow in your mother’s footsteps (mine still has none to this day) I slathered on a combination of oils and creams, relying on them to keep my skin supple. I made it to 9 months with a smooth belly. Meanwhile, my carpet, slippers and pyjamas were severely compromised. Then 4 weeks before I was due to give birth, a little red V-sign appeared above my belly button, where once a piercing had sat. The two little bunny ears then spread, little lines forking out from them and beneath my belly button as the skin was stretched to capacity. A couple of weeks later, my stomach was covered in angry red lines, which began to itch. I was diagnosed with Polymorphic Eruption of Pregnancy – basically, inflammation and itching of the stretch marks. Little spots appeared within the stretch marks and days later, the skin was so stretched, it began to bleed. I was prescribed a low dose hydrocortisone cream but it did nothing to abate the itching. I went into labour bang on 39 weeks, and was thrilled that at last my skin would most likely return to normal. But the rash spread to my legs and arms, and continued to drive me mad!
A few days later, it all calmed down, and of course my new daughter made me forget it for the most part anyway. But a year later, a crop of grey lines surround my belly button. You can actually see where the dermis has broken. I don’t care – my daughter is so ace, I could never resent my body for showing the strain of carrying her around – I would NEVER exchange that experience for a flat, taut, flawless stomach. But then nor do I embrace them as the medal of honour some mothers bang on about – it’s broken, stretched skin which seems to whisper, “all those oils were a total waste of money, hahah HA!”
Come on, ladies. What topical cream or oil can really be expected to knit the dermis back together? And if you’re going to stretch from a size 26 waist into a bump that most people mistook for twins by 35 weeks, there might be some collateral damage, no matter how much you rub and moisturise the skin. Some skin will stretch without a single mark – none of my friends have stretch marks – but I’m convinced it is primarily your skin type which decides your fate, rather than the amount of products you try. When I stop breastfeeding I will start an experiment, trying to find a treatment that can at least reduce the appearance of this road map of lines, and I will report back. Until then, it’s a one-piece for me, and no crop tops…
It is also time to point out: you’ll never see a stretch mark product on this site lauded for its stretch mark fighting prowess. I have the odd preferred belly cream or oil which might be designed to prevent them, but I will only be recommending them on account of their skin smoothing power, or soul-soothing benefits. Equally I am not one to write a whole post slagging off a product – I follow the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” school of beauty – but suffice it to say, what you see on the blog is the best out there, in my experience. C’est tout.