Hi Mama (To-Be)!
Are you looking for the best stretch mark cream during your pregnancy? I’m always a fan of keeping bumps looking glorious, so I did a WHOLE bunch of research on stretch mark creams, how they work, and when to start using them!
I started rubbing stretch mark cream on my bump in my first trimester! I wasn’t showing, and I didn’t have ANY stretch marks to begin with, but I really wanted to get into a good routine of rubbing cream on my belly each day!
Avoiding stretch marks is all about PREVENTION (and having the right genes, but we’ll get into that later in the post), so it’s important to start early, and stick with your routine!
If you’re curious and/or in a hurry and don’t wanna read this whole article…
Pregnancy stretch mark overview
First off, what are pregnancy stretch marks?
Stretch Marks are streaks (or lines) on your skin resulting from your skin expanding too quickly. This can be due to obesity, growing (puberty), or pregnancy!
These streaks are a different color and texture than your normal skin (usually kind of bumpy) and they range from white, pink, purple or gray. They also can be itchy! (Your belly, in general, may become itchy for other reasons) Sometimes you may find that stretch marks (especially when they first appear) will feel sore to the touch as well. (source)
What causes pregnancy stretch marks?
And like I’ve said, there are a few different instances people will develop stretch marks (obesity, growing, and pregnancy).
It’s also been proved that an increase in collagen also causes stretch marks to appear. In other words, an increase in cortisone levels can increase the probability or severity of stretch marks by reducing the skin’s pliability. In fact, this is a cosmetic way to reduce the look of stretch marks (collagen injections)!
That’s all I’ll say about that subject, but you can read more about collagen and how it affects your skin here!
Who do they affect most?
Since stretch marks are genetic, they typically affect women MOST who have mothers or sisters with stretch marks. If you noticed you got some stretch marks while you were going through puberty, you’re also at a higher risk for having them during your pregnancy.
In addition, stretch marks also affect women of darker complexion more so than lighter complexion.
If you have any reason for your stomach to be getting larger, quicker, you’re also at a higher risk for development. This would include twin pregnancies, gestational diabetics, and women who carry more amniotic fluid.
Do stretch mark creams actually work?
Yes, I realize that this whole article is dedicated to finding the best stretch mark cream during your pregnancy, but I can’t lie to you guys!
Stretch mark creams are marketed to pregnant women as a means of prevention, skin hydration, and overall better skin elasticity. Once you develop stretch marks, however, there is no complete cure. Your stretch marks will unfortunately never go away completely, but you may be able to have treatments or apply creams in hopes that they change their color to white.
The only REAL ingredient that may have some benefit in preventing stretch marks is Retinoids (Vitamin A), but it is unsafe in pregnancy because it has been linked to birth defects. (It’s mainly the oral use of Retinoids that’s been linked to birth defects, but the general consensus is to avoid topical use as well) You may, however, apply a vitamin A based cream on your stretch marks once you delivered (even if you’re breastfeeding).
With that said, why are so many women interested in the best stretch mark cream during pregnancy?
Stretch mark creams still have plenty of benefit to your growing bump, even if they don’t truly help prevent your stretch marks from forming. It’s ALWAYS a good idea to keep your skin nice and hydrated as it’s being stretched, and all stretch mark creams are extremely moisturizing. (It’s even more important to drink lots of water as your bump grows!)
They also smell nice, but not overly perfumed like many moisturizing creams that are marketed to the general population.
When to start using stretch mark creams during your pregnancy
I started rubbing my favorite stretch mark cream on my bump before it was a bump at all! I actually started in my first trimester, before anything was going through the stretching process. This helped me stay on track, and get into a good routine of moisturizing my bump after bathing.
Not only did I rub cream on my belly, but I also applied stretch mark cream in any place on my body I thought might get bigger during my pregnancy. So, it’s a good idea to have that same mindset too, when applying your cream! Not only do you want to moisturize your bump, you also want to keep these areas in mind:
- Upper arms
Unfortunately, your bump may not be the only thing GROWING during your pregnancy, so lotion up!
Related: Third Trimester Must Haves
The best stretch mark cream during pregnancy
My favorite stretch mark cream
- Designed for mamas during and after pregnancy
- Very light smell
- Non-irritating and 99% natural formulated without phthalates, parabens, petrolatum, or SLS.
- Price – $$
Best organic stretch mark cream
- 100% Organic Belly Butter- helps prevent stretch marks
- Organic, vegan, gluten & cruelty-free.
- No Parabens, No Synthetics, No Dyes, No Phthalates, No Sulfates, No Artificial Fragrances.
- Made in the USA
- Organic Shea Butter, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Macadamia Nut, Organic Grapeseed Oil, Organic Sweet Almond Oil
- Price – $$$
Best stretch mark prevention cream during pregnancy
- Fast absorbing formulation. Instructions – This quick drying oil should be gently massaged into affected areas at least once a day or as often as desired
- Formulated to improve the appearance of scars, stretch marks, uneven skin tone, and dry skin
- Consumers prefer Mederma Quick Dry Oil over Bio-Oil because it absorbs faster and more completely than Bio-Oil
- Mineral oil free. Fragrance-free. Paraben free. Dye-free
- Price – $
Most affordable stretch mark cream
- Perfect if you just want a body oil for your belly!
- Made with sweet almond oil, lemon oil, and vitamin E, this all over body oil gives you healthier looking beautiful skin.
- Created specifically for moms to be as it helps recondition and revitalize skin throughout pregnancy keeping skin soft.
- Apply directly after shower or tub for a deep, hydrating treatment that lasts to lock in moisture and help smooth skin.
- Made with natural ingredients, this all over body oil is safe and effective formulated without phthalates, parabens, petrolatum, or SLS.
- Price – $
Best oil for stretch marks during pregnancy
- I had this one too, and it’s totally my second favorite!!
- No chemicals, preservatives, artificial colors or perfumes
- Tones skin
- Rich, natural ingredients
- Excellent for massage. Please note: Color changes from clear to cloudy are normal due to extremely cold temperatures and easily remedied by placing the bottle with the cap sealed in hot water for 5-10 minutes
- Apply daily after a bath or shower when skin is warm and moist
- Price – $$
Best cream for old stretch marks from previous pregnancies
6. Bio Oil
- Clinically proven and dermatologist recommended* for scars and stretch marks
- Helps improve the appearance of uneven skin tone, dry and aging skin
- Non-greasy and won’t clog your pores
- Safe to use on a scar once the skin’s surface is fully healed
- Hypoallergenic. Ideal for all skin types, even sensitive skin
- #1 selling scar and stretch mark product in 18 countries and winner of 224 skincare awards
- Price – $$
Most moisturizing stretch mark cream
Drastically reduces the appearance of existing scars and marks and prevents the formation of new ones.
Increases the moisture content of your skin that seeps deep into your skin and stays locked in. This improves your skin’s elasticity preventing new marks from forming.
Leaves your skin smooth and supple to the touch.
- Made with natural and organic ingredients like Organic Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, Vitamins E + C + B3 + B5, Sunflower Seed Oil, Plant Stem Cells, Organic Hemp Seed Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, Raspberry Seed Oil, Avocado Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Organic Gotu Kala, Algae Extract and Japanese Green Tea Leaf Extract. Safe and gentle ingredients that you KNOW are good for your skin!
- Body Merry offers a 90-day MANUFACTURER GUARANTEE on all its products. If you aren’t satisfied, give them a call, and they will refund your money, you get to keep the jar.
- Price – $$$
A stretch mark cream worth the splurge
- Clinically proven ingredients that help prevent and repair stretch marks
- Peptides and extracts boost collagen renewal for stronger skin that can stretch and rebound
- Celebrity favorite and editor pick in Fit Pregnancy and Parents Expecting when you want to care for your stretching tummy
- Rich blend of shea and jojoba butters plus omega-rich oils that nourish skin and stop itching
- FREE of Parabens and Phthalate and Clinically Tested for ZERO Skin Allergy
- Price – $$$$
==> Read reviews
✅ Tip: If you are looking for a stretch mark cream that’s not really a stretch mark cream try…
- It is the same consistency as other belly oils
- It’s pure, 100% almond oil, no added ingredients
- Can be used safely for perineal stretching later in pregnancy
It’s also about the same price as most stretch mark creams… (Check current price here!)
An overall good pick
- Luxurious pregnancy lotion with naturally hydrating shea butter, organic herbs, and organic essential oils to safely encourage skin’s natural elasticity
- Helps ease the appearance of emerging stretch marks
- Calms stretching skin, expanding bellies, breasts, and thighs
- Light, natural scent won’t aggravate morning sickness, perfect for after pregnancy too
- Price – $$
If you really want to splurge on the best cream
- Helps protect skin from stretch marks, while keeping it firm and intensely hydrated from early pregnancy all the way through post-childbirth.
- 100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE
- SCIENTIFICALLY-DEVELOPED…by the nation’s premier dermatologist and a beauty industry veteran. Both are mamas who believe in safer, better, healthier skincare that works.
- Formulated with shea butter, avocado oil and centella asiatica, a natural super-herb known around the world for its powerful anti-aging and skin tightening benefits. Because of its unique thickness and texture, Amar Botanica was created to continuously melt into your skin for 12-24 hours after application. This helps with skin’s elasticity, and also helps relieve the itching that comes with a growing belly.
- PROVEN EFFECTIVE…through extensive focus group mams and real-life application from early pregnancy to birth and post-birth. Participants showed little to no stretch marks, and those who used it post-pregnancy reported that pre-existing stretch marks greatly faded. Amar Botanica works most effectively if used daily as the skin is stretching during pregnancy.
- Price – $$$$$
How to avoid getting stretch marks during pregnancy: prevention over cure
Okay, remember earlier in the article I talked about PREVENTION? Well, it’s true that there are a few things that you may be able to do to avoid getting stretch marks, even if you have it in your genes. (PS: It has little to do with stretch mark cream)
You see, even though a woman may be super prone to getting stretch marks because her mother suffered from them, there’s always a degree that is somewhat controllable on her behalf.
Let’s go back and remember which certain ailments make stretch marks worse…
- Gestational Diabetes
- Increased amniotic fluid around baby (Polyhydramnios)
- Low skin elasticity
Judging by those ailments, it would seem that the best way to prevent stretch marks from happening, is simply by following a healthy diet, staying super hydrated, and exercising moderately.
Just by doing your part in having a safe, and healthy pregnancy, you may be able to prevent stretch marks from reaching the high-end of that scale we talked about.
Of course, a few things are uncontrollable, (you generally can’t control if you’re going to have multiples, and sometimes gestational diabetes is completely unavoidable). However, the healthier you are during your pregnancy (even more importantly, the healthier you are BEFORE your pregnancy), the less likely you are to develop gestational diabetes. Polyhydramnios generally affects diabetics the MOST, so this one is sometimes controllable, too!
Ingredients to avoid in stretch mark creams
As mentioned earlier, the main ingredient you want to avoid when searching for a stretch cream to apply during pregnancy is Retinoids (Vitamin A). The use of vitamin A (taken orally) has been linked to birth defects, but most references recommend avoiding it topically as well.
What stretch mark cream did you use during your pregnancy? I’d love to hear from you! 🙂