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Growing a human in your belly is a remarkable phenomenon. The human body goes through a wide variety of changes in the process — from sensory to hormonal, circulatory to physical — but the easiest to identify and track is the size of your stomach.

And while there’s no doubt that the body performs wonders in pregnancy, there can be some lasting changes that you’re not so keen on.

Enter stretch marks.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, stretch marks are indented streaks or colored lines on your skin. They’re common during pregnancy due to skin that expands and stretches, as well as a result of weight gain and loss.

Let’s make one thing super clear: Stretch marks are extremely common and completely natural.

However, it’s also totally okay if you have a strong desire to prevent them. There are plenty of stretch mark creams available that work to keep them at bay as your body changes throughout your pregnancy.

During pregnancy, stretch marks can develop on your breasts, belly, hips, butt, and thighs.

The truth is, while there’s not a ton of research on the effectiveness of topical treatments, it’s easier to prevent stretch marks than to minimize them once they’re fully formed.

You can start to apply a stretch mark cream as a preventative measure — for best results, start as soon as you find out you’re pregnant and continue after you give birth.

Using a stretch mark cream may not prevent or eliminate stretch marks entirely, but it might help to make them less pronounced and noticeable by improving skin elasticity and smoothing your skin.

Plus, using a stretch mark cream can be a fantastic way for you to get in touch with your body and give yourself some TLC throughout your pregnancy.

Try incorporating stretch mark cream application into an indulgent self-care routine, which may include self-massage, exfoliation, or a good old-fashioned bubble bath.

Decide if you want a cream that is scented or fragrance-free. Scan the ingredients list for potential irritants, especially if you have allergies or sensitivities. And while pregnant and breastfeeding, avoid products that contain retinoids.

Choose a product (or investigate creating your own!) that contains ingredients such as:

The market is full of stretch mark creams promising amazing results. We’ve searched through ingredient lists and product reviews to help you narrow down your search. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by choice, read on to take a look at some of our top picks.

Price guide

  • $ = under $10
  • $$ = $10–$20
  • $$$ = over $20

Best overall stretch mark cream

Mustela Stretch Marks Cream

Price: $$$

Mustela’s dermatologist-tested cream is free of parabens, phthalates, and phenoxyethanol. It’s no surprise that this product is EWG Verified, since it’s made of 96 percent plant-based ingredients, including avocado oil and peptides, passion fruit polyphenols, and witch hazel extract.

This velvety cream claims to improve elasticity, prevent stretch marks, and improve the appearance of existing ones, leaving you with silky, supple skin. Expecting mamas mostly love this cream, but a few warn that even though it’s listed as “fragrance-free,” it still has a scent.

Best stretch mark cream for sensitive skin

Earth Mama Belly Butter

Price: $$

This lightweight, creamy body butter aims to prevent and relieve dry, itchy skin without leaving a greasy residue. Free of petroleum, parabens, and artificial fragrances, this lush lotion is formulated with organic herbs and oils geared especially toward preventing stretch marks, such as aloe and shea butter.

Since it’s been clinically tested for irritation, it’s ideal for people who have skin sensitivities. Many reviewers prone to rashes, eczema, or breakouts report that they were able to use this cream with success, and a handful say its light, refreshing scent is reminiscent of a Creamsicle or fruity cereal. (Yum!)

Best organic stretch mark cream

Glow Organics Belly Butter

Price: $$$

Made without parabens, sulfates, synthetics, or artificial fragrances, this organic skin butter is formulated to prevent stretch marks and improve skin elasticity. It contains macadamia nut, shea and cocoa butter along with grapeseed and sweet almond oil. These natural ingredients create a light, subtle scent, making it ideal for mamas-to-be with sensitive noses.

Fans of this butter say it locks in moisture and soothes dry, itchy skin. They also warn that, due to its thick, buttery consistency, you need to use the heat of your hands to melt it before applying it to your skin.

Best drugstore stretch mark cream

Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter

Price: $$

This unscented drugstore find from Burt’s Bees is great for moisturizing your skin both during and after your pregnancy. It’s formulated using 99 percent natural ingredients and is free of phthalates, parabens, petrolatum, and sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS).

In addition to moisturizing ingredients like cocoa, shea, and jojoba butter, this cream also contains sweet almond, sunflower, and coconut oil, which makes it ideal for soothing sensitive skin.

Reviewers rave that this cream helps to nourish stretched skin and prevent stretch marks from forming, and that its creamy consistency is absorbed easily so you won’t feel greasy or sticky after application.

Best stretch mark oil

Bio-Oil Skincare Oil

Price: $$$

Bio-Oil is one of the most dermatologist-recommended holy grail skin products for use as a stretch mark preventative and treatment for existing scars. With ingredients such as vitamin E, chamomile, rosemary, and lavender extracts, it relieves inflammation and redness, which helps to minimize the appearance of skin discoloration and stretch marks.

Despite “oil” in its name, Bio-Oil is a non-greasy formula with a fresh, floral scent. Users say it makes their skin smooth, hydrated, and radiant. And beyond stretch marks, you can also use Bio-Oil to heal skin concerns such as scars, acne, and blemishes.

Best multiuse stretch mark cream

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks

Price: $

Free of mineral oils, parabens, and phthalates, this hydrating lotion was created specifically to prevent and treat stretch marks. Its ingredient profile includes cocoa and shea butter along with sweet almond and argan oil. This sweet-smelling lotion moisturizes your skin to improve skin elasticity, texture, and tone.

Even though it’s thick and creamy, reviewers say it absorbs well so you won’t have any stickiness after application. In addition to targeting areas of your body prone to stretch marks, it doubles as a body moisturizer that you can use everywhere.

Best fragrance-free stretch mark balm

Munchkin Milkmakers All-Natural Belly Balm

Price: $$

If cream isn’t your consistency of choice, this soft, velvety balm from Munchkin (yes, that Munchkin!) Milkmakers might be the pick for you. The twist-style stick dispenser, which is recyclable, allows for easy application and is ideal to toss into your bag for on-the-go use.

Reviewers like that this unscented balm absorbs quickly without leaving a messy, greasy residue on skin or clothing. One mother-to-be notes that it wasn’t irritating, though her sensitive skin is prone to dryness, eczema, and contact dermatitis. And many women report that they also love using this balm on their elbows, cuticles, and heels.

Best postpartum stretch mark cream

Mommy Knows Best Stretch Mark Vanishing Cream

Price: $$

Ideal for use after pregnancy, this thick cream relieves itchiness, reduces redness, and claims to lighten stretch marks. Containing vitamin E along with jojoba, cocoa, and shea butter, it’s designed to reduce the harshness of deep marks so they’re less textured, pronounced, and visible. You can also use it to reduce the appearance of scars, skin discolorations, and age spots.

Many reviewers are pleased with the creamy texture, which they say is hydrating without feeling sticky or greasy. This cream also has a light, minty scent, that isn’t overly powerful or long-lasting, but it’s still something to consider if you’re sensitive to scents.