Photo: Shutterstock / RaihanaArsal
Whether they're from puberty, pregnancy, weight loss or weight gain, stretch marks are completely natural and normal. And while we're all about embracing our "tiger stripes" or "life scars," it's no secret that these so-called "imperfections" can seriously impact the way many women feel about themselves, especially since we're still so rarely exposed to unretouched photos of stretch marks. So it really comes as no surprise that many on the internet are eager for new hacks to minimize their appearance. The latest? Vicks VapoRub.
A recent trending Pinterest post, which has been repinned more than 600 times in just one week, includes a graphic that appears to have originated from a website called allyouwanttoknow.net (yup!), marketing the cold remedy as the ideal product to get rid of stretch marks and get "firm, smooth skin." Surprisingly, after some digging, we found that this idea isn't exactly news. There are scores of articles and blog posts across the internet claiming that Vicks VapoRub can visibly reduce stretch marks and tighten skin, but is there any truth to these claims? (Or is this just another crazy beauty hack like using laxative as face primer?)
"There is no evidence that Vicks VapoRub helps to improve or prevent stretch marks," says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital. Darn. In fact, when it comes to stretch marks, in particular, there's little in the way of high-quality evidence supporting the idea that any product can help reduce their appearance. Laser treatments are a different story, but cost a pretty penny and aren't an accessible option for most people. (See: Kim Kardashian Opens Up About Getting Her Stretch Marks Removed)
A more successful game plan, however, would be to prevent stretch marks from happening in the first place. The key is hydration. ICYDK, stretch marks are actually a disruption in the elastic fiber network that runs through our skin, according to a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology. As the body goes through quick periods of growth, skin expands, causing the elastin in it to stretch out on a molecular level. But keeping your skin hydrated (by drinking lots of water and moisturizing) can help make your skin less prone to the tears associated with stretch marks. That's actually something Vicks might help with since its petrolatum and natural oils can both do wonders to keep your skin hydrated. So, while Vicks probably won't help you get rid of stretch marks, its hydrating qualities could prevent them from appearing in the future.
There's a little more support for Vicks being used to help tighten skin in general. "Vick's VapoRub does contain eucalyptus oil which has been shown to have wound-healing properties," Dr. Zeichner says. "For this reason, people often use it as a DIY hack to help treat sagging skin. Unfortunately, it's not likely that it will have a significant impact." Instead, Dr. Zeichner recommends sticking to an ingredient like retinol, which has been shown to help stimulate collagen production to strengthen your skin's foundation.
There you have it. For what it's worth, while you probably don't need to be slathering it on your butt, we still totally support using the stuff to help fight your cold and flu symptoms.