When it comes to stretch marks, we’ve got some good news and some bad news for you. The good news is that society is finally starting to evolve so we don’t think of those squiggly marks that people get when rapidly gaining and losing weight — in particular, for 50 percent of pregnant people — as something to be banished. The bad news: You can’t really prevent stretch marks. But one more bit of good news: There are some stretch mark creams, oils, and balms out there that will minimize their appearance and keep your hard-working skin looking hydrated and healthy.
Genetics likely play a part in determining if you will get stretch marks. According to a 2013 study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, four genetic markers seem to be linked with stretch marks. Particularly, one DNA sequence variation linked with pregnancy-related stretch marks was located close to the elastin gene.
We love the way that Ashley Graham has called her stretch marks “new stories” that show that her body has changed and grown and created new life. At the same, time, using something to nourish and moisturize your skin can help smooth out the skin and make it look less damaged. It also just feels better to keep pregnancy skin feeling healthy and hydrated.
We asked SheKnows editors, writers, and readers, and scoured through celebrity interviews and online reviews to find what worked on their stretch marks.
Weleda Mama for stretch marks and beyond
“I’m guilty of probably wasting Weleda’s amazing stretch mark oil by applying it absolutely everywhere during pregnancy — including, you know, my knees and elbows and places that had zero risk of ever stretch-marking. It’s super nourishing and smells like almonds, and it’s safe for all types of skin and all baby-growing bodies. I definitely emerged from pregnancy with zero stretch marks. Weleda, or genetics? We may never know.” — Amelia Edelman, SheKnows parenting editor
Avishi Organics, because Meghan Markle
We’re not actually sure whether Meghan Markle really swore by this organic oil when she was pregnant with Archie, but someone told the tabloids that it is, which is good enough to make us give it a shot!
Hatch’s cult-fave mask
This was a go-to product for Lily Aldridge, Kate Hudson, and Jenna Dewan, but something tells us quite a few others like the belly mask too, since it keeps selling out. It’s back in stock now, so you can grab the opportunity to cover your belly in soothing aloe vera, propolis, and more skin-nourishing, plant-derived ingredients.
Palmer’s cocoa butter has a lot of fans
This budget-friendly cream was the top choice of many editors, writers and readers. Containing cocoa butter, vitamin E, collagen, elastin and shea butter, this cream is safe to use during pregnancy.
“Palmer’s Tummy Butter in the tin is inexpensive and widely available, so I only used it at bedtime. Didn’t get a single stretch mark that time (knock on wood!). Switched to the Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Stretch Mark Cream this time so I could use it morning and night — but I use more of it because I feel like it doesn’t moisturize as long [as the tummy butter].” — Kristin Bustamante
“I used Palmer’s, too. I didn’t get stretch marks on my belly, but I had some previously on my thighs from a ‘growth spurt’ in college. I interviewed some docs a year ago for an article regarding how to avoid stretch marks, and they all said none of the creams are really proven 100 percent effective. They said that genetics is a huge part of it, as well as staying hydrated. So drink up… water, that is!” — Molly Smith
“It didn’t work, but it made my skin feel awesome and not itchy.” — Brandy Hagelstein
“I tried Palmer’s, but it didn’t work for me. I’ve heard that it’s all in the genetics, and mine indicate stretch central. It’s like my own personal roadmap to birth. —Sarah Caron
“I used Palmers last time and pure vitamin E cream, and I did great — no stretch marks. And then, all of the sudden at 36 weeks, she dropped, and I got them! I was so frustrated and upset, but now I look at them as a beautiful thing because they are a part of a wonderful time in my life.” — CallieGrace12
Neutrogena lightweight body oil defies genetics
“I don’t think it’s genetics. My mom was loaded with stretch marks on her little tummy. My tummy stretched a ton and I didn’t get any (thank goodness!). I was too nauseated the first four months to use anything. Afterward, I used Neutrogena Body Oil. I used it before I was married, and 20 years later, I’m still using it. And my little girl said it makes me smell like I did when she was a baby. — Mary Fetzer, SheKnows writer and blogger
CocoCare: The Yellow Stick beats the odds
“Believe it or not, I never got any after four kids. The last three babies were big, too: between 8 pounds 10 ounces and 9 pounds 4 ounces. I’m not sure if it was the pure cocoa butter I often put on my itchy tummy, but it sure smelled great!” — Vanessa Sands
Slather on the Burt’s Bees butter
“I have to agree: I think it may be genetics. But, for good measure, for both of my pregnancies I used Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter. No stretch marks here, so maybe it was worth the $11 per jar I paid. Only con I can think of was that I wasn’t a huge fan of the scent, but maybe that can be chalked up to morning sickness. (Did anything smell good?!)” — Michelle Maffei, SheKnows writer
This is also a favorite of Khloe Kardashian, which, considering how much free stuff she must get, makes us definitely want to give it a shot.
California Baby lotion, but for Mama
“I used California Baby Lotion. It’s meant for babies, but I like it for myself for its low score at the Cosmetic Safety Database. I don’t know if there was any stretch mark prevention (I had some from my prior pregnancies but didn’t get any this last time), but it made my skin feel great!” — Monica Beyer, SheKnows writer
Delicious-sounding coconut body butter
“Coconut Body Butter — my favorite. And though it didn’t prevent me from getting stretch marks, it worked great when my belly was itching like crazy, and it smelled so good.” — Crystal Patriarch
Our mission at SheKnows is to empower and inspire women, and we only feature products we think you’ll love as much as we do. Please note that if you purchase something by clicking on a link within this story, we may receive a small commission of the sale.
A version of this story was originally published in August 2018.
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