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Stretch marks—two words you hate to see side-by-side, especially during bikini season. Common after pregnancy or extreme weight loss or gain, stretch marks are the physical result of the skin expanding rapidly and they can be difficult (sometimes impossible) to get rid of once they arrive. Whether you’ve noticed them popping up (to your horror) or are taking preventative action before they become apparent in your life, we’ve got some advice that will help you keep your skin supple and smooth! Here are 3 tips to minimize the appearance of stretch marks.

Prevent Stretch Marks with Your Diet

The best way is to avoid stretch marks is to prevent them before they show up, particularly if you’re anticipating a pregnancy or a big change in your body! Foods high in gelatin, like bone broth soup, support skin elasticity, while leafy greens and citrus fruits rich in Vitamin C assist in collagen formation, which is also an important aspect of skin elasticity. Finally, fats found in coconut oil and olive oil will also assist with your skin’s stretch-factor, allowing your body to change without leaving a trace.

Over-the-Counter Creams and Oils

Fixing from the outside is another strong component to minimizing the appearance of stretch marks and can be easily accomplished with many over-the-counter creams and oils. These products often include active ingredients that may not eliminate your stretch marks, but they will make them less visible by smoothing the skin’s texture and color. Revitol Stretch Mark Cream, which includes natural ingredients like Vitamin E and Grapefruit Seed Extract, has excellent customer reviews and starts at $39.95 for a one-month supply. Alternatively, Bio-Oil (a multi-purpose topical oil) is backed by a study showing improvement in the stretch marks of all subjects and can be purchased at your local drug store.

Exercises to Minimize Stretch Marks

While many bodybuilders know that bulking up too fast can cause stretch marks, it’s also important to note that certain relatively non-strenuous exercises can help reduce the appearance of stretch marks by improving blood flow, toning muscles and tightening the skin’s surface. Including lateral leg circles, which will pinpoint the hip and thigh area: kneel against a balance ball and extend one leg, making 10 small circles in each direction. Be sure the movement extends from your hips to your toes! You can also try leg pelvic thrusts while lying on a mat to target the ol' glutes.

Whether working from the preventative stage or preparing for summer’s bikini season, it’s nice to know that when it comes to stretch marks, you have options! From the food you eat to the products you buy to the exercise regime you implement, you’ve got an army of options waiting to tackle and defeat those pesky marks.

Photos: mehmetdinler/ Shutterstock JESHOOTS, hellonatural.co, Matt Madd

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Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos, Greece