Pregnancy is a great time to get into the habit of giving your skin a little extra love on the daily.
When you're pregnant, it's hard to fathom the changes that are taking place inside your body. You're growing a person, a whole new organ to support it and the organs that belong to you are shifting and making way by the minute.
Suffice to say, a lot happens on the outside too. Most notably, an ever-growing belly. And as your belly expands (and eventually contracts), you might find yourself with a few new badges of honor–stretch marks.
What are stretch marks?
First things first. Stretch marks are natural! From growth spurts in puberty to pregnancy, stretch marks are scars that can occur any time skin changes rapidly. When they first appear, they're often a darker hue (which depends on your skin tone), raised and itchy. Over time, they fade and sink but can remain visible nonetheless. And while no amount of stretch mark cream, oil or magical potion can prevent or erase them, using a stretch mark cream throughout your pregnancy can help improve skin elasticity and nourish your skin as it grows.
When should you start using stretch mark cream during pregnancy?
If you've already got a moisturizing ritual, great! Keep it up. If you occasionally slap on some moisturizer when your legs look ashy, pregnancy is a great time to get into the habit of giving your skin a little extra love on the daily. Throughout pregnancy your belly, boobs, hips, thighs and bum will likely need a little extra attention. All those hormones can affect skin in a variety of uncomfortable ways and keeping it hydrated can help. That said, there's no set date to start using stretch mark cream, but many of the formulas on the market are suitable for use before, during and after.
What should you look for in a stretch mark cream?
Mostly, it's personal preference. If you're sensitive to fragrance, you can find plenty of fragrance-free options. Look for formulas with gentle but nourishing ingredients like nut butters (cocoa, jojoba oil and shea) and coconut oil to moisturize, vitamins A and E which heal and protect the skin, and botanicals like calendula to soothe and calm irritated skin. Most importantly, while retinol can be an effective treatment for damaged skin, do not use retinol during your pregnancy.
Rest assured that everyone has stretch marks. (Literally. Everyone.) There is nothing you need to do about them if you don't want to, nor should you feel vain if you want to address them. If you're the latter, we've done the research to help you find a formula that works for you.
Read on to discover the top-rated and most-loved stretch mark creams for pregnancy!
Thicker than regular lotion but not as heavy and greasy as most body butters, Earth Mama Organics Belly Butter is a top-rated favorite among pregnant and postpartum mamas. The all-natural formula contains organic herbs and oils like shea butter, calendula and olive oil which are traditionally used to help soften skin and encourage skin's natural elasticity. The emollient lotion absorbs quickly and easily, leaving behind a light citrusy scent that's gentle on morning sickness sensitivities and we love the convenience of the pump top for easy application.
Reviewers say: "AMAZING!! I bought a bottle early on in my pregnancy and started using it daily when I was 4 months pregnant. I didn't really start showing until the end of the 5th month, but I wanted to prep for stretch marks as much as I could. I'm currently 8 months pregnant and have ZERO stretch marks. I put it on my boobs too and they have not been itchy in months. The smell doesn't bother me and there isn't lasting residue like oil. My belly skin hasn't been irritated (itchy or hurting from stretching) and I give all credit to this butter! Do yourself a favor and buy! 100/10 would buy forever!"–AC
From the price to the efficacy to the dreamy cocoa butter scent, Palmer's Cocoa Butter Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks is a long-time favorite for good reason. The OG stretch mark lotion (which also happens to be Amazon's #1 best-selling maternity skin care product) is made from a blend of rich cocoa butter and shea butter to soften, smooth, and plump skin along with the requisite Vitamin E to support moisture retention and help repair damaged skin. It's also packed with lutein to prevent damage as your skin stretches, and argan, almond and coconut oils to moisturize and pamper your expanding belly. Together, this symphony of powerhouses can treat as well as prevent the stretch marks that come from pregnancy or otherwise! And because it's so wallet-friendly, you can slather it everywhere from your boobs and belly to your butt and thighs without blowing the budget.
Reviewers say: "LOVE this lotion!!! Not only does it deeply moisturize my growing pregnancy belly but it is a perfect all-over moisturizer as well. I have zero issues with stretch marks and itchiness when I use it. This lotion has a medium consistency thickness that is NOT greasy, spreads and absorbs well, and has a nice very, very light scent. Also a little bit goes a long way. Since using this all over I have noticed better skin tone on my legs along with less noticeable leg pores (which has been a long time problem for me). It also has helped my dry heels and edges of big toes more than any other lotion I've tried. I have also tried the "cream" version of this lotion and honestly I don't notice much of a difference between the two other than thickness. I'll be sticking with this lotion!"–ThatOneGirl
Mustela, the French family-owned skincare brand, always delivers when it comes to clean, non-toxic products for mamas and babies. Their EWG-Verified Stretch Marks Cream cream is packed with plant-based ingredients like avocado peptides to comfort skin, shea butter to moisturize and nourish and galactoarabinan, an effective plant collagen that is extracted from harvested larch trees to help promote skin elasticity. It's velvety and fast-absorbing and safe to use even while breastfeeding.
Reviewers say: "This is the best stretch mark cream I've used throughout my pregnancy. My husband bought me a variety of items to try and most of them were so greasy and thick that my belly would get so hot at night I couldn't sleep. This cream goes on smooth and is thin but great coverage at the same time. It has helped me although my doctor said that stretch marks are more genetics than cream. I've continued to use this cream throughout my pregnancy and I like it it's so smooth and light. I've purchased multiple refills and recently purchased other postpartum care from them as well. I love the brand and would highly recommend this to all other expecting mothers!"–Jennifer
Like a prenatal vitamin for the skin, this botanically-charged cream is packed with powerful ingredients to nourish and protect while your body changes. The gentle but powerful formula includes everything from organic shea and cocoa butters to Vitamins E, C, B3, and B5 to hydrate and firm skin while reducing the appearance of marks and scars. It's thicker than a regular moisturizer so a little goes a long way. It also dries up quickly and is not sticky, so you don't have to wait too long to get dressed after applying.
Reviewers say: "After researching stretch mark prevention cream for pregnancy, I decided to purchase the Body Merry Cream. I love that it is all natural and there are no chemicals in the cream. The cream itself is very thick and moisturizes really well. The smell is interesting- it almost has a chocolate/coconut smell but I don't mind it. If you are looking for something super moisturizing and all natural- I highly recommend this cream!"–Amazon Customer
With nearly 100K ratings on Amazon and a huge fanbase of folks who swear by its efficacy, you've likely run across the award-winning Bio-Oil Skincare Oil by now. The holy grail oil is a uniquely formulated blend of powerful, natural oils like Vitamin A, Vitamin E, chamomile, sunflower, and lavender Oil to reduce inflammation, improve elasticity and also help renew skin. Because of this, it's used as both prevention and treatment for existing marks and scars in pregnancy and otherwise. (Many reviewers use it to treat acne scarring since it's non-comedogenic and won't clog pores. Who doesn't love a good multi-tasker?) Not everyone loves the scent which can be described as faintly old-ladylike but it does fade quickly.
Reviewers say: "I used this was when I was pregnant, and now using it for multiple different things. It moisturizes face and neck, helps to minimize scarring & stretch marks, and I also use it on my psoriasis!"–Shnon1
Not everyone is a fan of oils given their reputation for being greasy and pore-clogging. But forget what you've been told and hop on the bandwagon if you haven't already. Super-hydrating and oh-so-indulgent, the right body oil can easily take the place of lotion or become the star of your moisturizing regimen. One of our favorites for pregnant bellies? Hatch Belly Oil. The easily-absorbed oil is rich in nutrients and quick-drying so you don't have to stand around for ages waiting to get dressed and leaves skin feeling soft, supple and totally pampered. The non-greasy formula is made with soothing calendula to calm irritated skin, sweet almond oil to heal and hydrate and grapefruit peel to deliver a subtle, citrusy scent. And we have to say, it looks stunning on your dresser or countertop as well.
Reviewers say: "Just started using this product. I had a dream that the bottle was going to be the size of my thumb lol I was wrong, it's a nice big glass bottle with a glass dropper. It has a faint scent of grapefruit. It soaks into my skin quickly leaving it soft and supple but without any greasy residue. I was a little hesitant at first because of the price but I'm very happy with this purchase. :) I got through my first pregnancy with no stretch marks so prayers for no stretch marks this go around!! Lol" SC
Natural, unscented, and inexpensive, it's no wonder Burt's Bees Mama Belly Butter is a favorite among moms. The luxe and creamy texture helps soothe itchy bellies while nutrient-rich moisturizers like shea, jojoba and cocoa butters deeply hydrate parched and stretching skin.
Reviewers say: "This is my first pregnancy and my itchy stomach was KILLING me! I tried a couple lotions before looking for one specifically for pregnancy, and I tried a couple that had good reviews, but this is by far my favorite! I keep one at home and one at work, but luckily it's not something you need to keep reapplying because it works! Feels great and helps a bunch so that I'm not scratching (trying to keep the stretch marks to a minimum). Love it!"–Jessi211