Pregnancy Stretch Marks Prevention Cream

It’s no secret that stretch marks can sometimes accompany pregnancy. A high-quality stretch mark cream can frequently aid in both of these circumstances. Stretch marks can make some individuals feel self-conscious and can be extremely uncomfortable for pregnant women due to all of the straining skin.

Stretch mark creams and belly moisturizers come in a variety of forms, from extremely thick cocoa butter-based products to oils. When choosing a stretch mark cream during pregnancy, take into account your skin type, the ingredients, and how the two will interact. In addition, since stretching

Can stretch marks be prevented during pregnancy?

Keep your weight gain slow and steady

Since rapid weight gain is one of the culprits behind stretch marks, slowly and steadily putting on pounds during pregnancy is one of the most effective ways to help prevent them. It can be easy to overdo it if you’re eating for two

What should I use to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy?

Hydration is your skin’s best friend if you want to try to prevent or keep stretch marks to a minimum because moistured skin is less likely to break when it stretches. Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated and using a humidifier while you sleep can help your skin stay supple, advises Dr. Engelman.

When to start using stretch mark cream during pregnancy

You don’t have to wait until you start noticing marks. Many creams work as a preventive measure, so it can be helpful to begin using one as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. You can use the cream throughout each trimester and even after you give birth

Best Overall: Burt’s Bees Mama Belly Butter with Shea Butter and Vitamin E

4.8

burts-bees-belly-butter

Courtesy of Amazon 

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Pros

  • Fragrance-Free
  • Made with 99 percent natural ingredients
  • Deeply moisturizing

Cons

  • Non-perfume, “natural” smell unappealing to some
  • Thick formula takes time to rub in

 Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter Really Softens Skin

Who else recommends it? BabyCenter and Healthline both picked Burt’s Bees Mama Belly Butter.12

What do buyers say? 91% of 25,800+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

We named Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter our best overall pick because it is specially designed for pregnant people and those going through postpartum and is created to nourish your belly both before and after pregnancy. When it comes to a stretch mark cream product, you want something safe and effective, and any added perks like extra moisturizing, pleasant to smell, and easy to apply are nice to have, as well. With the name-brand recognition of Burt’s Bees, you know you can trust this product to deliver.

Grab this cream to soften and smooth your skin with naturally hydrating cocoa, shea, and jojoba butter, or help your skin recover after pregnancy with the 99 percent natural belly butter that provides relief and comfort to stretched skin.3

The lotion is fragrance-free, so it won’t bother your sensitive nose if you’re currently pregnant, and the formula is non-irritating, made without harmful ingredients like phthalates, parabens, petrolatum, or SLS. With more than 3,000 reviews, if you’re looking for your first cream to try out, this is a good place to start.

Price at time of publish: $12

Formula Type: Butter | Quantity: 6.5 oz

Burt's Bees Belly Butter
Verywell / Abby Hocking

What the Experts Say

“Ideal for your stomach, hips, thighs, and bust, [stretch mark creams] can be used 2/day and throughout pregnancy as needed for hydration is safe.” — Dr. Sonia Badreshia-Bansal, Board Certified Dermatologist and RealSelf Advisory Board member

Best Oil: Bio-Oil Multiuse Skincare Oil

4

Bio-Oil Multiuse Skincare Oil

Ulta

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Pros

  • Reduces appearance of matured marks and scars
  • Contains nourishing oils for anti-dryness and inflammation
  • Great for all skin types

Cons

  • Might stain clothes if not completely applied

If you prefer applying an oil as opposed to a cream to prevent or treat stretch marks, Bio-Oil is a top seller. Its also clinically proven and dermatologist tested to not only treat scars but also improve dull aging skin so you can use it all over your body.4

Bio-Oil is made of a blend of oils that help add moisture to your skin helping it stretch as your belly gets bigger and aid in restoration postpartum.

Reviewers remark it worked well for them during pregnancy and they continued to use the bottle which lasts a long time afterward. Some note that since it is an oil it can be a bit messy to apply.

Price at time of publish: $9

Formula Type: Oil | Quantity: 4.2 oz

What Our Editors Say

“I loved Bio-Oil and still use it after pregnancy. I have super dry skin, so I use it a few times a week after a shower under body moisturizer. It’s great and has so many uses, so a good investment for pregnancy and beyond.” – Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN

Best Prevention Cream: Body Merry Stretch Marks & Scars Defense Cream

Body Merry Stretch Marks & Scars Defense Cream

Courtesy of Amazon

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Pros

  • Deeply hydrating
  • Made with natural, cruelty-free ingredients
  • A little goes a long way
  • Can be used for other skin needs

Cons

  • Thick texture takes time to rub in
  • Unscented “natural” smell possibly unappealing to some
  • Might need pairing with an oil (sold separately)

As with most things in life, when it comes to stretch marks, sometimes it’s what we do to our skin before the marks appear that can help keep them at bay. Body Merry’s Stretch Marks & Scars Defense Cream is a great option for those pregnant mamas hoping to avoid the stretch mark scene altogether.

This body butter will also help reduce stretch marks if you already have them, but its star power is in preventing those pesky marks from appearing in the first place. It works by firming and moisturizing your skin with a customized blend of high quality and natural ingredients, and it was formulated to deliver intense hydration and provide protection to help smooth rough skin and marks, as well as provide your hard-working skin with a little relief.

The formula is gentle while still being powerful, and the rich texture cream spreads quickly and easily, absorbing in seconds so you can get on with your day. If you’re looking for a body butter chock full of vitamins and antioxidants,5 this one has ‘em all, from vitamins E, C, B3 and B5 to plant stem cells, seaweed, and rich oils. As an added bonus it is cruelty-free and safe for every skin type.

Price at time of publish: $19.99

Formula Type: Cream | Quantity: 4 fl oz

What Our Editors Say

“I didn’t use Body Merry during pregnancy but I tried it out for hyperpigmentation and old scarring on my skin as a scar very easily. I loved the texture, the way it felt on my skin, and most of all I loved that it made the appearance of dark marks and scars fade over time.” – Latifah Miles, Commerce Editor, Verywell Family

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Best During Pregnancy: Mederma Stretch Marks Therapy

Mederma Stretch Marks Therapy

 Courtesy of Amazon

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Pros

  • Paraben-free
  • Safe for use while breastfeeding 
  • Deeply moisturizing

Cons

  • Not recommended for those in their first trimester
  • Takes 12 weeks of consistent use for optimal results

When you’re pregnant, there are a lot of warnings about what you should and shouldn’t eat, drink, and put on your body, so you definitely want to stick with a brand you can trust when it comes to your skincare routine.6

Mederma’s Stretch Marks Therapy cream helps prevent stretch marks and has been clinically tested as safe to use during pregnancy, starting in the second trimester. The product is a paraben-free, nourishing cream formula that combines a unique blend of ingredients including cephalin (a proprietary botanical extract), hyaluronic acid, and Centella Asiatica7 plant extract. This product can continue to be used during breastfeeding, as well.

Price at time of publish: $34

Formula Type: Cream | Quantity: 5.2 oz

What Our Experts Say

“Post-partum and post nursing, in-office treatments will be best to help improve the look and color of stretch marks. For more aggressive skincare, vitamin A can be helpful. Creams with this should not be used during pregnancy.” –Dr. Badreshia-Bansal

 Best Maternity Jeans of 2022 for Every Type of Body & Style

Best Organic: Glow Organics Pure + Organic Belly Butter

Glow Organics Pure + Organic Belly Butter

Courtesy of Amazon

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Pro

  • Made completely with 100 percent organic ingredients
  • Vegan, gluten-free, and cruelty-free
  • Butter and oil mixture provides maximum hydration

Cons

  • Unscented “natural” smell possibly unappealing to some
  • May cause allergic reactions for some

Most stretch mark cream products for pregnancy and afterward use safe and healthy ingredients, but if you want to be extra cautious, Glow Organics Belly Butter cream is made with only natural, organic ingredients and is free of dyes, parabens, synthetics, phthalates, sulfates, and artificial fragrances.

The cream reduces and prevents stretch marks and scars using 100 percent organic extracts like cocoa butter, shea butter, macadamia nut, and almond oil, among others, which are a perfect match for any skin type.3 Vegan and cruelty-free, this product is a must-try for organic-loving moms.

Price at time of publish: $30

Formula Type: Butter | Quantity: 4 oz

Best Massage: Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks

4.7

Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula

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Pros

  • Paraben- and mineral-free
  • Extremely hydrating
  • Hypoallergenic

Cons

  • Thick texture takes time to rub in
  • Requires three applications a day to see results

For something sensual and hard-working, check out Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks. Another Amazon’s Choice product, this crowd favorite is made with a special skin-strengthening formula that’s safe for all skin types and has the results to back it up. Let the vitamin E work its magic8 while you enjoy a ​massage that smells great, thanks to shea butter and cocoa extracts.​

Price at time of publish: $10

Formula Type: Lotion | Quantity: 8.5 oz

Final Verdict

Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter (view on Amazon) ranks highest on our list because it’s designed for use both during and after pregnancy, is incredibly hydrating and smooth, and is effective.

How We Rated the Stretch Mark Creams for Pregnancy

4.8 to 5 stars: These are the best stretch mark creams for pregnancy we reviewed. We recommend them without reservation.

4.5 to 4.7 stars: These stretch mark creams for pregnancy are excellent—they might have minor flaws, but we still recommend them.

4.0 to 4.5 stars: We think these are great stretch mark creams for pregnancy, but others are better.

3.5 to 3.9 stars: These stretch mark creams for pregnancy are just average.

3.4 and below: We don’t recommend stretch mark creams for pregnancy with this rating; you won’t find any on our list.

What to Look for in a Stretch Mark Cream for Pregnancy

Ingredients 

When it comes to buying a stretch mark cream, one ingredient to look out for is hyaluronic acid as it can make stretch marks appear less noticeable.9 However, it’s important to check ingredients because some are not advised to use during pregnancy, like tretinoin or retinol.10 Moreover, ingredients like nutrient-rich butter and oils can help keep skin moisturized as it stretches throughout pregnancy.

“Ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, thick moisturizers, and balms can help with trapping moisture,” Dr. Badreshia-Bansal tells Verywell Family.

Skin Type

“Stretch marks are called striae, which are in rested scars under the skin. Hence, they are difficult to treat,” says Dr. Badreshia-Bansal. “They pop up when the skin stretches quickly (think during pregnancy, rapid weight gain or loss, and puberty) and initially have a purple, pink, or red hue, gradually fading to more of a skin-toned color. With time, stretch marks will improve.”

So, even though over time stretch marks will improve, you’ll want to keep in mind your own skin type when out shopping for a stretch mark cream. If you have sensitive skin, you’ll more than likely want to avoid any creams with artificial ingredients and fragrances. “Stick with fragrance-free, hypoallergenic products to avoid irritant or allergic reactions,” Dr. Badreshia-Bansal tells Verywell Family. On the other hand, if you have dry skin, a balm or cream may benefit you more than a lotion. 

Cost 

Stretch mark creams are often applied more than once a day, so consider the cost and how often you might need to buy them. To help make sure you’re getting the most out of your money, determine the cost of the cream per ounce. You can do this by taking the cost of the cream and dividing it by the number of fluid ounces.

Stretch mark creams are difficult to treat, so aside from the cost of cream, you may be thinking of an office treatment after you’ve delivered which is another cost you might want to consider. Office treatments will more than likely be more expensive than an OTC cream but do have a noticeable effect on stretch marks.

“[Stretch marks] usually start off as a red thin widening linear streaks in the skin that eventually fade to a silvery depigmented, almost scar-like effect,” says Dr. Janet Allenby, ​Board Certified Dermatologist and RealSelf Advisory Board member. “They have been very difficult to treat to 100 percent resolution in a medical office, let alone. Office procedures to reduce the appearance, from lasers, radio frequency treatments, combined with topical products, are still the best way to reduce the appearance.”

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • When do I start using stretch mark creams during pregnancy?You can use them as early as you want, in fact, the earlier the better, because even if your skin isn’t stretching yet, the creams will still provide your skin with hydration. That being said, when you move into maternity pants and your belly is starting to show, that’s a good time to start using the cream to support your skin as it stretches out. “Stretch marks happen from the sudden weight or volume changes and are not really improved with the more common OTC regimen of a cocoa butter like product that has been touted as preventative,” says Dr. Allenby.
  • Do stretch mark creams actually work?According to the American Academy of Dermatology, stretch mark creams are only effective on new marks, not “mature” ones. So, you need to be proactive about putting the cream on during pregnancy rather than waiting until after you’ve had the baby and your marks are more visible. They also note that results are not immediate, and can take weeks to appear. “Creams for stretch marks target skin laxity, color abnormalities and tissue brilliance,” explains Dr. Allenby. “The thinned skin and abnormal coloring are addressed through skin care products that normalize and signal skin cell in turnover and surface smoothness and radiance using retinoids acids, fruit-based acids, growth factors, and creams used to treat cellulite.”

Why Trust Verywell Family

Cheryl Lock is a Denver-based writer with expertise in parenting and family content. She uses both personal and professional experience in sourcing the best products. Key considerations she used when writing this include efficacy, price, and user reviews.

Ashley Ziegler is a full-time parenting writer and mom to a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old. She has personal experience in researching and purchasing a variety of parenting products, including stretch mark creams for pregnancy and postpartum.

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