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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 Association, stretch marks are indented streaks or colored lines on your skin. They’re common during pregnancy due to skin that expands and stretches, and they’re also a result of weight gain and loss.

Newer stretch marks are typically red or discolored. They’re easier to treat. Lighter-colored stretch marks are older and more difficult to treat.

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

“Genetics play a part,” says Dr. DiAnne Davis, FAAD, a dermatologist at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. “Even people who aren’t pregnant, who have growth spurts or weight gain or loss, can develop stretch marks.”

In addition to the genetic component, she also mentions that stretch marks have a hormonal component. People assigned female at birth are more likely to get these marks than people assigned male at birth.

Although stretch marks are natural, it’s also OK 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.

If you do develop stretch marks, topical treatments might be able to reduce the discoloration of your marks and shrink them, but it’s not a guarantee, especially if they are older stretch marks.

While there’s not a ton of research on the effectiveness of topical treatments, it’s still worth trying to prevent stretch marks, since it can be difficult to minimize them once they’re fully formed.

“From a dermatology perspective, there aren’t that many stretch mark creams that are effective,” Davis states. “The theory behind them is helping to rebuild some of the collagen and elastin in our skin that is distorted as a result of the stretch marks developing.”

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

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 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 nursing, avoid products that contain retinoids.

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

“Certain ingredients that can sometimes be helpful are hyaluronic acid or peptides,” Davis says. “I usually will check active ingredients and recommend the patient check with their OB-GYN for using it.”

The market is full of stretch mark creams that promise 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: $$$
  • Key ingredients: galactoarabinan (a plant collagen), avocado peptides, shea butter

    Mustela’s stretch mark cream is dermatologist-tested and free of parabens, phthalates, and phenoxyethanol. It’s no surprise that this product is EWG Verified, since it’s made of 96% 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 during pregnancy, and improve the appearance of existing ones, leaving you with silky, supple skin. Expecting parents mostly love this cream and appreciate the fact that it is fragrance-free. However, a few reviewers mention that there it still has a light scent and that it’s mild and pleasant.


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


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

Best stretch mark cream for sensitive skin

Earth Mama Belly Butter

  • Price: $$
  • Key ingredients: aloe leaf juice, olive fruit oil, sunflower seed oil, shea butter

    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 great for people with skin sensitivities, whether they’ve always had sensitive skin or if their pregnancy has made them more likely to experience sensitivity. It’s all thanks to the all-organic ingredients list and the fact that the light fragrance comes from natural sources only. 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!)


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


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

Best organic stretch mark cream

Glow Organics Belly Butter

  • Price: $$$
  • Key ingredients: organic shea butter, organic cocoa butter, organic macadamia nut, organic grapeseed oil, organic sweet almond oil

    If you’re looking for a stretch mark cream that’s made with 100% USDA organic ingredients, look no further than this belly butter. In addition to being formulated with only-organic ingredients, this belly butter is also made without the use of parabens, sulfates, synthetics, or artificial fragrances — a big plus for those with sensitive skin. It is loaded with ingredients like macadamia nut, shea and cocoa butter along with grapeseed and sweet almond oil, which help prevent stretch marks and improve skin elasticity. These natural ingredients also create a light, subtle scent, making it great 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.


  • light, subtle scent
  • soothes itchy skin


  • needs to be melted before application

Best belly oil

Bio-Oil Skincare Oil

  • Price: $$$
  • Key ingredients: mineral oil, retinyl palmitate (a form of vitamin A), lavender oil, anthemis nobilis flower oil, rosemary leaf oil, calendula oil

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

It does contain a form of retinol that is thought to be safe for pregnancy (retinyl palmitate), but it could still make your skin sensitive to the sun, so stay on top of wearing sunscreen throughout the day.

Despite “oil” in its name, Bio-Oil is a nongreasy 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.


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


  • contains many chemical ingredients

Best drugstore stretch mark cream if you care about natural ingredients

Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter

  • Price: $$
  • Key ingredients: shea butter, vitamin E

    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% natural ingredients and is free of phthalates, parabens, petrolatum, and sodium lauryl sulphate.

    In addition to moisturizing ingredients like cocoa, shea, and jojoba butter, this cream also contains sweet almond, sunflower, and coconut oil, which makes it great 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 absorbs easily so you won’t feel greasy or sticky after application.


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


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

Best drugstore stretch mark cream if you care a little less about natural ingredients

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks

  • Price: $
  • Key ingredients: sweet almond oil, cocoa seed butter, palm oil, coconut oil

    Free of mineral oils, parabens, and phthalates, this hydrating lotion was created specifically to prevent and treat stretch marks. It has some natural ingredients, but not as many as the Burt’s Bees option. However, it’s been popular for decades and comes at a cheaper price. It can be conveniently found at most drugstore retailers, making it an easy item to purchase.

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.


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


  • requires frequent application to stop skin from feeling dry

Best fragrance-free stretch mark balm

Munchkin Milkmakers All-Natural Belly Balm

  • Price: $$
  • Key ingredients: coconut oil, shea butter, rosehip oil

    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 great 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.


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


  • 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: $$
  • Key ingredients: vitamin E, jojoba oil, coco, shea, mango butter

    While the name of this stretch mark cream sounds promising, it’s worth pointing out that there isn’t much research out there to support the concept that a topical product can actually reduce stretch marks. Nonetheless, this cream is great for use after pregnancy. It’s thick and relieves itchiness, reduces discoloration, and claims to diminish stretch marks.

Containing vitamin E along with jojoba 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.


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


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

Best belly oil with clean ingredients

Pipette Belly Oil

  • Price: $$
  • Key ingredients: squalane, ceramides, winter cherry extract

Pipette Belly Oil absorbs quickly and helps calm itchy skin. It’s hypoallergenic, making it a good fit for sensitive skin. Pipette claims the oil keeps your skin soft and supple as it changes shape.

This oil uses clean ingredients you can trust: winter cherry extract and calendula for itchiness, antioxidant vitamin E for moisture, and squalane (a naturally hydrating lipid) for balance.

Healthline editor Catherine Conelly was a fan of this oil. “It felt very luxurious, and I love the clean nature of the product. The only downfall is that the snap-top tends to result in the outside of the bottle becoming oily over time — slightly messy. I found myself wishing it was a pump top.”


  • hypoallergenic and good for sensitive skin
  • clean ingredients
  • fast-absorbing


  • only sold in 4-ounce size
  • bottles can get oily over time from the snap top leakage

Best splurge-worthy stretch mark cream

Mutha Body Butter

  • Price: $$$
  • Key ingredients: shea butter, coconut butter, mango butter, vitamins A and E

Although the Mutha Body Butter is expensive, customers say the price is worth it for this rich, high quality butter. This product is hypoallergenic and good for sensitive skin. Ingredients include shea butter, cocoa butter, and mango butter, plus vitamins, fatty acids, and seed extracts.

The body butter is clinically proven to hydrate for 48 hours. It has a subtle citrus fragrance. Reviews state that this butter absorbs quickly and feels luxurious and rich.


  • very rich
  • hypoallergenic
  • natural ingredients


  • much higher price point than comparable options

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 butterbutter4.8 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 butterbutter4.5 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 stick4.4 stars
Mommy Knows Best Stretch Mark Vanishing Cream$$shea butter, jojoba oilcream3.8 stars
Pipette Belly Oil$$winter cherry extract, calendula, vitamin E, squalaneoil4.5 stars
Mutha Body Butter$$$shea butter, cocoa butter, mango butter, vitamins, fatty acids, seed extractsbutter5 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 can be helpful to use one as soon as you find out you’re pregnant.

You can use the cream throughout each trimester and even after you give birth. Davis recommends using the cream every day after you take a bath or shower.

Postpartum, retinoids can help with treating stretch marks. “They help to restore the skin’s collagen,” says Davis. But it may be best to avoid retinoids while you’re pregnant.

They’re most likely safe while nursing — with topical application only — but that research is limited. Oral use of retinoid-containing treatments isn’t recommended during lactation.

Davis also recommends in-office stretch mark treatments such as microneedling or laser treatments.

There isn’t much concrete evidence that stretch mark creams work to prevent or eliminate marks during pregnancy.

“A cream that has evidence-based medicine behind it — we don’t have that,” says Davis.

What we do know for sure is that keeping your skin moisturized as it expands helps support fragile skin and encourage circulation, which can help your skin look and feel better.

“It’s tough to prevent stretch marks because some of it is just what happens naturally as the stomach gets larger,” Davis explains. “But hydration with lotion or cream is helpful.”

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 prevent or 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. Currently, the proof for stretch mark prevention is only anecdotal.

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.

Is coconut oil good for pregnancy stretch marks?

There is not enough evidence to suggest that coconut oil can actually prevent or treat stretch marks. However, many skin experts are a fan of the ingredient. Marisa Garshick, MD, a dermatologist at Medical Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery in New York, notes that because coconut oil works to moisturize and may calm inflammation, it may help to improve the overall appearance of the skin.

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.