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As you progress through your pregnancy, you begin to earn your stripes as a mother. In some cases, literally. Yes, we’re talking about the ever dreaded stretch marks!
Healthy women will gain at least 25 pounds over the course of their pregnancy, so it’s no surprise that stretch marks (and a sore back) are common. So common, in fact, that by the time the third trimester rolls around, about 90% of expectant mothers are noticing stretch marks.
These red or purple lines tend to appear on the belly, butt, and breasts, as well as hips and thighs, and many women find them unsightly. If you’re the kind of mother who prefers to keep her experiences close to her heart instead of written on her skin, fear not. A quality stretch mark cream can fade those lines over time and help restore your skin to all its former glory.
What Makes a Great Stretch Mark Cream?
There are plenty of products on the market, and they all make the same claims; that they’ll prevent and heal stretch marks. But which claims are real, and which ones are wishful marketing? Before we move on to our reviews, let us talk to you about a few basic tips for buying the best stretch mark creams for you.
Preventing vs. Healing
As you begin to look at products you should know the truth; there is no magical potion you can put on your skin to prevent stretch marks. These marks result from your body growing so fast that your skin simply can’t keep up. When your epidermis falls behind your body’s growth, the once flexible fibers under the skin break and – pop! – there goes the stretch mark.
Genetics will also play a part as to whether or not you will see stretch marks appear during or after your pregnancy. Sorry ladies, but if your mom has ever complained about her pregnancy stripes, odds are you will be doing the same.
All of this is to say that, while you can do things keep your skin healthy and supple as your belly expands, you cannot completely prevent a stretch mark and shouldn’t believe a product’s claims to do so. You can, however, fade them over time, so don’t start thinking that all is lost just yet.
A good product is only as good as what it contains. If you see any of these ingredients on the label of a stretch cream, consider yourself headed in the right direction.
- Shea Butter: Heals and moisturizes the skin
- Cocoa Butter: Softens and moisturizes the skin and aids in healing
- Aloe Vera: Moisturizes the skin and aids in healing
- Calendula Oil: Reduces inflammation of irritated skin
- Jojoba Oil: Deeply penetrates skin and moisturizes
- Siegesbeckia Orientalis: Helps regenerate skin
- Palmitoyl Oligopeptide: Smoothes skin and increases its elasticity
- Palmitoyl Pentapeptide 3: Supports collagen growth, reduces wrinkles and fine lines
- Retinyl Palmitate: Stimulates new cell growth and helps to repair damaged cells. Cannot be used during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
Of course, this is not a comprehensive list of every ingredient common to stretch mark creams, but these will show up a lot as you shop.
When to Avoid Retinoids
While retinoids and their derived products are excellent for healing stretch marks, along with other skin conditions, you have to wait until your pregnancy is over and you are no longer breastfeeding to use them. A form of vitamin A, these products hasten cell division and improve the appearance of skin. However, over exposure to vitamin A can have adverse consequences as long as your baby’s body is linked to yours. As such, avoid any and all retinoid products while you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Organic vs. Traditional
This mostly boils down personal preference and what will work best for your unique skin. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that just because a product is “all natural” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe to use during your pregnancy. Be sure to do your homework on the ingredients in both traditional and organic products.
Now that you know some basics, here are our recommendations for effective stretch mark creams that we think you’ll love.
We feel that this particular product is both economical and effective at combating stretch marks. It’s what I’ve been using throughout my pregnancy with Dara and I’m still using it (he’s four months at the time of writing.)
Under $15, hypoallergenic, and recommended by dermatologists, this product even works for moms with sensitive skin. It is the #1 selling stretch mark product in eighteen countries and a #1 best seller in Amazon’s Facial Creams & Moisturizers category. It works great for all skin tones and types, containing soothing ingredients like vitamin E and lavender oil to help heal your skin.Check Price on Amazon
Best Organic and Natural Stretch Mark Creams
More and more parents-to-be are turning to natural products for their families. If you are looking for a stretch mark cream made 100% from mother nature, we’ve got you covered.
This product is hypoallergenic, cruelty-free and contains no parabens or petroleum. A combination of certified organic ingredients, such as shea butter, rosehip, and olive oil, all work together to improve skin’s elasticity, moisturize, and to fade imperfections. A soothing blend of oils and botanicals will ease any itching you are experiencing during your pregnancy.
While some mothers are turned off by the smell of this product, others find it inconsequential and tout this product as a winner.
If, like us, you fall in love with The Honest Co. and their products and you intend to be a breastfeeding momma, you may also be interested in their organic nipple cream.Check Price on Amazon
Made entirely from organic ingredients, this soothing product works hard to fade those frustrating stretch marks on any area of your body. During your pregnancy, you can also use this product to alleviate any itchiness and to keep your skin moisturized and supple.
Although some mothers report that this product is a little too oily, many others are recommending this paraben-free belly butter to anyone looking to fade their stretch marks.Check Price on Amazon
If you are finding your stretch marks a little on the stubborn side, you are not alone. Here are some products that are great at fading those stripes.
This cream is rich with quality ingredients, like vitamin E and Shae butter, to tackle those stubborn stretch marks. This product not only lightens scars and is GMO and paraben free, but it is also hypoallergenic and comes with a 100% money back guarantee from the company. Mothers using this cream report that it absorbs quickly and even works on stretch marks that are years old.Check Price on Amazon
This product is paraben free, hypoallergenic, and safe to use during your pregnancy. Darutoside, a botanical extract, increases the renewal of collagen in your skin to improve its strength. Other ingredients, such as shea butter and biopeptides, moisturize your skin while enhancing its appearance.
A minority of moms were turned off by this product’s smell, but most sing its praises for alleviating dry, itchy skin during their pregnancy as well as fading stretch marks.Check Price on Amazon
Best Affordable Stretch Mark Creams
For our readers who love a quality bargain, we wouldn’t let you down when it came to stretch mark creams. Here are some of our low priced top picks.
This product penetrates deeply into your skin to soothe while it moisturizes. It is a dermatologically tested, intensive treatment cream that utilizes ingredients like cocoa butter, collagen, elastin, and vitamin E to improve your skin’s tone and fade stretch marks.
It is scented, so beware if this is something you will be sensitive to, and some moms have found the product too thick to apply easily. However, thanks to its great results and affordable price, many moms use this as their go-to stretch mark product.Check Price on Amazon
For around $10, you can purchase this popular and paraben free product. Ingredients like shea and cocoa butters enrich this fragrance-free cream for a soothing, healing experience. It has no fragrance added and is reported by moms to go on smoothly and absorb into the skin quickly.Check Price on Amazon
Don’t miss the rest of our ‘Maternity Essentials’ series
Don’t be fooled into thinking that you need tons of new gadgets and gizmos just because you are pregnant. You don’t. We’re here to help keep things simple and focus only on the essentials that will genuinely make your pregnant life easier.
The other articles in our ‘Pregnancy Essentials’ series:
- Maternity Belts vs Belly Bands: The ultimate guide to belly bands & maternity belts
- Maternity Pants: Choosing breathable pants with a good amount of stretch
It seems like yesterday you were waving your positive pregnancy test around your head. Now your tummy is expanding so much, you’re amazed at how your skin can accommodate it!
If you are a mom looking to shed her pregnancy stripes, any one of these products is worth a try. They are among the best stretch mark creams on the market today. Just remember, patience is required; you didn’t get stretch marks overnight, even though it might feel that way when you look in the mirror, and they won’t go away overnight. But that’s okay. If being pregnant has taught you anything, it’s that patience will pay off. In the meantime, remember that you are beautiful, Mom. Stretch marks and all.