Wrinkles can be banished with Botox (or perhaps a really good serum), gray hair can be dyed in a snap, and everyday skin flaws require only some well-placed foundation to disguise.  Granted, there are issues that take time to address, but even weight loss can be achieved with the right diet, and cellulite can be reduced to some degree with exercise. As Marta has learned from practicing Burr Leonard’s Bar Method, anyone can change her body.

But, what’s frustrating about something like stretch marks is that, according to pretty much anyone with any skin care authority, there’s really no sure fire way to get rid of them. This knowledge made me particularly eager to try Apothederm Stretch Mark Cream ($89.95). I mean, who did this company think it was fooling? But then, after eight weeks of continuous use, something unexpected happened: my stretch marks seemed to be fading.

Before I even began testing the cream, I Googled it to find out what my fellow bloggers and stretch mark-sufferers thought of its scar-fading abilities. Every review I scrounged up on the Internet was positive. Not that they impressed me – who knows how objective they are? And while people were happy to write general overviews about their overwhelmingly positive experiences with Apothederm, no one tackled what is, in my opinion, the most important aspect of the cream: why it seems to work, when nearly every other stretch mark fading product has failed.

The secret, as it so often does, lies in the product’s ingredients. According to Apothederm, it’s all about the peptides or, actually, in this case, “SmartPeptides.” The patented SmartPeptide used in the stretch mark cream is heptapeptide-7, which has been shown to “support skin renewal,” as well as “build collagen, while reducing the appearance of red and silver stretch marks.” That’s right, this cream claims to address both old and new stretch marks.  According to Marta’s post on peptides, the short chains of amino acids really can help the skin build collagen. But is collagen the cure to stretch marks?

The answer is probably “yes,” since stretch marks are the tearing of the dermis (the second layer of skin, under the outer layer known as the epidermis), and 70 percent of the proteins in the dermis are made up of collagen fibers.

The star of the stretch mark show, heptapeptide-7, is a synthetic peptide made up of seven amino acids, which include arginine, asparagine, glycine, isoleucine, and methionine. According to a clinical study conducted by EssexTesting Clinic, Inc., heptapeptide-7 “caused a significant rise in collagen levels” when applied topically. There was statistical improvement in skin texture and forehead wrinkles. However, it is important to note that the authors of the paper referencing these statistics are employed by Helix BioMedix (Apothederm’s parent company). But, according to an unrelated study on a synthetic collagen-like hexapeptide compared to vitamin C, the peptide stimulated collagen production to a greater degree than the vitamin C did.

As for the rest of Apothederm’s ingredients, there are several very nice emollients, plus sodium hyaluronate, resveratrol ferment extract, and licorice root extract. I know resveratrol is an antioxidant and may even help with wrinkles, but I haven’t been able to dig much up on its ability to reduce discoloration, which is what Apothederm claims it does. However, in combination with other ingredients, licorice root has been known to reduce discoloration, according to some studies.

Although Apothederm says you can see results after using the product for only two weeks, it took me about six to notice anything significant. I tested the cream on old stretch marks, and while the results weren’t out of this world, I have noticed them fading slightly, which is definitely something. I would post before and after pictures, but the body part I tested it on is generally not an area I display to the public. I’ve actually noticed that Apothederm has had more of an effect on skin tone and texture as opposed to the discoloration that stretch marks cause, which is disappointing, as the white lines against my dark skin aren’t pretty. Perhaps rubbing any cream on old stretch marks twice each day for two months would smooth skin, but I can’t say for certain. While I don’t think the results are worth $90, the cream is now being sold for about $56 on Amazon, and maybe that’s a fairer price. I still have quite a bit of the cream left, and I’ll continue to use it until I run out.

Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Butyrospermum Parkii (shea Butter) Limnanthes Alba (meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Cyclopentasiloxane, PPG-3 Benzyl Ether Myristate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Theobroma Cacao (cocoa) Seed Butter, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Panthenol, Pichia/resveratrol Germent Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glatra (licorice) Root Extract, Olea Europaea (olive) Fruit Oil, Bisabolol, Glucosamine HCL, Algae Extract, Yeast Extract, Heptapeptide-7, Glycine, Alanine, Isleucine, Leucine, Urea, Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Capylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Xanthan Gum.