Tanning and Stretch Marks – Good Option or Big Mistake?

Tanning And Stretch MarksStretch marks are complicated. There are no definitive answers for treating them or even what causes them.

What’s not complicated is the desire to put them in the background.

Make them less noticeable, so we can focus on the things we love and not how we look.

So, it’s quite natural to wonder if camouflaging or covering stretch marks with a tan is effective.

Unless you’re paying for tanning bed sessions, it’s cheap and abundant.

But, does tanning help stretch marks or do more harm?

Here are some answers to some of the most commons concerns regarding tanning and stretch marks.

Can Tanning Get Rid Of Stretch Marks?

The answer to this is a definite no. The marks will not go away with tanning.

The only way to get rid of stretch marks is to replace the scar tissue with collagen. So far, the best treatment for this is laser therapy.

Will Tanning Hide My Stretch Marks?

If your stretch marks are mild, meaning not indented below the skin’s surface or they appear relatively thin and pink to purple in color, such as most adolescent stretch marks, the marks can become less noticeable when the skin is tanned.

Even milder pregnancy stretch marks can be blended in with a darker skin tone as long as the stretch marks themselves have some color.

The effectiveness really depends on age, color of marks, skin tone, age of the marks, severity and more.

As stretch marks begin to age, they are going to turn a silver or white color. This can easily blend in with pale skin, but since the older white stretch marks don’t darken with tanning, they will stand out more on darker skin.

This is why it’s important to analyze the stretch marks before tanning them. Sometimes it just won’t help and can actually make the problem a lot worse.

Is It Safe To Tan My Stretch Marks?

The dangers of skin cancer from too much sun exposure is well documented, so we won’t get into that here.

However, what many people don’t realize is tanning beds and lying out in the sun can cause cumulative skin damage that over time will make stretch marks much worse.

In the short term, tanning stretch marks can be a quick fix as mentioned above. But, over the long term, UVA and UVB rays cause permanent damage to the skin’s collagen network.

Since stretch marks originally appear from a lack of collagen in the dermis layer of the skin, the marks can appear deeper and wider with prolonged sun damage.

Avoiding the sun altogether is neither practical nor fun. So, practice good sun care: use plenty of sun block 30 SPF or greater regardless of skin type, and avoid lying out for long periods of time especially between 10am and 2pm when the suns rays are most intense.

Tanning And Stretch Marks Creams

If you are going to use stretch mark creams, especially prescription creams containing Retinoic Acid (aka Tretinoin), avoid too much sun exposure.

Retinoic Acid, an acid form of topical Vitamin A, does not react well with the sun. It increases sun sensitivity and can result in severe sun burns and damage.

Retinoic Acid is found in prescription creams such as Retin-A, Renova, Retacnyl, Aberela, Retina, and many others.

It’s always important to consider the ingredients in stretch mark creams and learn how they react with sun exposure. Dermatologists are a great resource for this type of information.

What Are Alternatives for Tanning Stretch Marks?

Fortunately, tanning beds and baking in the sun are not your only options for covering up stretch marks with a tan.

Spray tans and self-tanning creams are growing in popularity and the market has responded with some very good products.

These products don’t come with any of the risks of sun exposure, can be applied with relative convenience, and can cost about as much as a good quality moisturizer.

Fake Bake Flawless, 6-Ounce self-tanning spritz is a popular product (ranked #71 at Amazon in the Beauty category) that produces an even instant tan. This lotion is sprayed onto an application mitt (included) to ensure streak-less coverage and no stains on the hands. Unlike many other brands, Fake Bake has a temporary coloring in the lotion so you see where it goes on your skin ensuring even coverage.

Jergens Natural Glow Firming Medium Tanning Lotion is another popular cream that costs about $6 to $8 per 7.5oz. It has a slightly stronger fragrance than some of the more expensive self-tanning creams.
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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Kim September 14, 2012

I am glad that I read this article because I never noticed it before this summer but the stretch marks on my stomach fro pregnancy would get darker out in the sun and they showed up even more than they did before I tanned. In your article you mentioned the white ones not tanning and standing out because of that but mine are the opposite, do you know why?


Ann September 9, 2012

I read that the active chemical used in spray tans, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), has the potential to cause genetic alterations and DNA damage, according to a panel of medical experts who reviewed 10 of the most-current publicly available scientific studies on DHA for ABC News, including a federal report ABC News obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. So I don’t think it’s a good idea to try to spray tan too much.


Deb@StretchMarks360 September 18, 2012

I hadn’t heard about that, but I’m definitely going to look into it further.

Thanks for the info Ann…


Bernice September 9, 2012

I am glad that I read this before I went and tanned because I have the older stretch marks from pregnancy that are white and would stand out like a sore thumb if I were to get a dark tan. What about the spray on tan that every salon is using now because of skin cancer threats? Would the paint adhere to the stretch mark? I wish I could do laser treatment.


Deb@StretchMarks360 September 18, 2012

Hi Bernice,

A good spray tan works really well to hide stretch marks. But be careful, I really believe you get what you pay for when it comes to spray tans.

I opt for the salon when I spray tan. If you go for one of the do-it-at-home products, test it on a small inconspicuous area first before doing your whole body. You don’t want to be one of the “orange people” or develop a nasty all-over rash:(


Lewis September 7, 2012

Ever since a tan was the sign of health and vitality, we have been battling the culture of society about the dangers of sun damage to our skin. Back in the 1920s they didn’t know much about the dangers of UV radiation, any more than they knew about the dangers of smoking. Now, we know so much more, and yet for some reason much of society still believes that a tan is the ultimate sign of good health.


Reyna September 6, 2012

I have seen how laser therapy can fade stretch marks instantly. There was an episode of The Doctors where they demonstrated a laser treatment. It seemed like magic the way those stretch marks disappeared. The only drawback would be the cost for such a treatment. Not everyone has the extra income to pay for laser treatment. Hopefully, there exist natural remedies.


Deb@StretchMarks360 September 18, 2012

Hi Reyna,

There are natural remedies out there that do work for some. However, there is no one perfect stretch mark remedy for everyone. Most often, the best treatment is a combination of many small practices that benefit your skin and reduce the appearance of stretch marks.

This can start with stretch mark prevention, then continue with natural remedies or a good stretch mark cream to minimize the marks, and finally if you want to get more aggressive, there is laser therapy.


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