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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 belly.

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 aim 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 worth trying to prevent stretch marks since it can be difficult to minimize them once they’re fully formed.

You can start to apply a stretch mark cream as a preventive 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 parents mostly love this cream, but a few warn that even though it’s listed as “fragrance-free,” it still has a scent.

Pros

  • made from mostly plant-based ingredients
  • absorbs quickly
  • free from parabens, phthalates, and phenoxyethanol

Cons

  • listed as “fragrance-free,” but it still contains 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!)

Pros

  • great for people with sensitive skin
  • won’t leave a greasy residue

Cons

  • reviewers say the bottle is too small
  • scent is overbearing for some users

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 parents-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.

Pros

  • light, subtle scent
  • soothing on itchy skin

Cons

  • needs to be melted before application

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.

Pros

  • contains 99 percent natural ingredients
  • absorbs easily with no greasy residue
  • soothes sensitive skin

Cons

  • while the brand says it’s unscented, some users say that the scent can be off-putting

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 preventive 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.

Pros

  • often recommended by dermatologists as a preventive measure or for treating scars
  • relieves inflammation and redness
  • also usable for scars, acne, and blemishes

Cons

  • contains many chemical ingredients

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.

Pros

  • can improve skin elasticity, texture, and tone
  • can be used as a moisturizer all over the body
  • absorbs well with no stickiness

Cons

  • requires frequent application to stop skin from feeling dry

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. One mother-to-be notes that it wasn’t irritating, though her sensitive skin is prone to dryness, eczema, and contact dermatitis. And many people report that they also love using this balm on their elbows, cuticles, and heels.

Pros

  • twist-style dispenser works well for on-the-go use
  • absorbs quickly without irritating the skin

Cons

  • many reviewers report a greasy residue left behind on skin and clothes

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.

Pros

  • relieves itchiness
  • reduces redness and the appearance of scars, skin discolorations, and age spots

Cons

  • longtime users don’t see much difference in stretch marks

Stretch mark creamsPriceKey ingredientsTypeCustomer rating
Mustela Stretch Marks Cream$$$avocado peptide and shea buttercream4.5 stars
Earth Mama Belly Butter$$aloe, sunflower seed oil, shea butterbutter4.9 stars
Glow Organics Belly Butter$$$organic shea butter, organic cocoa butter, grapeseed oilbutter4.5 stars
Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter$$coconut oil, jojoba butter, cocoa seed butterbutter4.4 stars
Bio-Oil Skincare Oil$$vitamin A, vitamin E oil, sunflower oil, lavender oiloil4.6 stars
Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks$cocoa butter, shea butter, vitamin Ebutter4.6 stars
Munchkin Milkmakers All-Natural Belly Balm$$coconut oil, shea butter, organic rose hip oiltwist stick4.5 stars
Mommy Knows Best Stretch Mark Vanishing Cream$$$shea butter, jojoba oilcream3.8 stars

You can start using stretch mark creams early on in your pregnancy. You don’t have to wait until you start noticing marks. Many creams work as a preventive measure, so it’s 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.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much concrete evidence that stretch mark creams work to prevent or eliminate marks during pregnancy. What we do know for sure is that keeping your skin moisturized as it expands helps support fragile skin and encourage circulation, which can make your skin look better.

Keep in mind, too, that not all stretch mark creams are created equal. Some are more focused on hydrating and moisturizing than actually preventing marks. So if you’re going to purchase a stretch mark cream, make sure you do your research.

Do stretch mark creams work on old stretch marks?

Stretch mark creams won’t make old stretch marks completely go away. However, depending on the cream you use, it may somewhat reduce the appearance of the marks.

Do stretch mark creams work during pregnancy?

There isn’t much hard evidence that stretch mark cream can completely get rid of pregnancy-induced stretch marks. Many users report, however, that certain stretch mark creams reduce the appearance of their stretch marks while keeping their skin hydrated.

What helps prevent stretch marks during pregnancy?

In addition to using a stretch mark cream, eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet, drinking enough water, getting regular exercise, and gently massaging your belly every day may help prevent or reduce stretch marks during pregnancy.

You can talk with your midwife or doctor about gaining baby weight at a slow and steady pace and making sure you’re not deficient in any vitamins.

There’s a lot going on in your body and mind right now. Pamper yourself with one of these stretch mark creams that may help prevent stretch marks during pregnancy.