Dorian Smith-Garcia is a diverse writer across beauty, fashion, travel, parenting, consumer goods, and tech. She has written for Inverse, Healthline Parenthood, The Confused Millennial, XONecole, Glowsly, and The Drive along with a variety of other publications.
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August 28, 2022
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In today’s body positivity-focused world, stretch marks are a badge of honor. It’s important to note that stretch marks can happen at any time. For example, you can gain stretch marks simply by hitting the gym, lifting weights, and boosting your muscle mass. In fact, you can experience stretch marks anytime you’re experiencing rapid growth.
And in that regard, they’re most often associated with pregnancy. For moms everywhere, stretch marks are often lauded as a proud representation that your body was able to grow a whole human. That’s no small feat! And if you’re proud of your tiger stripes — wear them with pride.
But if we’re being honest, not everyone wants to rock them. Or some people are simply looking for creams to help support their skin elasticity during pregnancy, thereby minimizing their formation from the start. If you fall into either of those camps, these creams might be the right move for you.
Can stretch marks go away with cream?
Stretch marks simply show that your body grew or shrank faster than your skin was able to produce collagen and elastin, the components that allow for the skin to be elastic. When the body changes rapidly, but collagen and elastin production can’t keep pace, the skin is ruptured. As a result, you get stretch marks in the a form of a scar.
In a perfect world, you could nod your head and blink your eyes like I Dream of Jeannie and banish your stretch marks with a wish. But the reality isn’t so simple. The truth is, there’s no over-the-counter (OTC) topical solution that will make your stretch marks go away. However, some products are effective at reducing their appearance.
It’s also important to keep in mind that your body chemistry, as well as your willingness to regularly apply products, will impact how effectively they work. For this reason, it’s a good idea to purchase products targeting stretch marks with an open mind.
And for best results, you should begin applying a stretch mark cream before you get stretch marks—even before you start to show. The goal is to keep the skin supple. Board-certified dermatologist Luke Maxfield, M.D., reminds us that “…the most important thing is to try to treat scars and stretch marks early while they are still maturing. Being proactive is always better than being reactive.”
Alternatively, Hadley King, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist, recommends focusing on medical-grade silicone. They note that “Medical-grade silicone products have been clinically [shown] to be one of the most effective at-home scar treatments available for a variety of scar types, including hypertrophic, keloid, acne, and burn scars, as well as surgical scars.”
And if you’re pregnant, always speak with a physician before incorporating a stretch mark product into your routine. This is because some stretch mark creams or lotions contain ingredients that might be harmful to your baby.
For example, retinol—a common ingredient that can diminish the look of stretch marks—is usually not recommended for pregnant women because it increases the risk of birth defects.
Keep in mind that a variety of factors can impact whether a stretch mark cream makes sense for your routine. Everything from texture, efficacy and even scent can all impact whether an item makes the cut. Also, remember that topical products will usually take time for results to become visible. At a minimum, plan to wait at least four weeks before deciding if a product is working or a dud.
How we picked:
Effective & safe ingredients
The ingredients in this formula are safe for skin, help support skin elasticity and hydration, and are effective at easing the appearance of stretch marks.
No matter where you are on your journey—from pregnancy to postpartum—there’s an option for you here.
There’s a price point for every budget, because all moms deserve quality skin care.
These come recommended from the pros and loads of real users.
The best pregnancy creams for stretch marks
- Lightweight texture absorbs quickly into the skin
- Rich moisturizing ingredients like jojoba oil and hyaluronic acid keep skin soft and supple
- Designed to protect skin’s natural moisture barrier
- May not have a pleasant smell
- Texture may be too runny for some people used to traditional lotions
Ingredients: Jojoba oil, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Hyaluronic acid, Shea butter, Essential oils
When it comes to scars, Bio-Oil is a well-known brand—and for good reason. While most people are familiar with the classic oil, this brand also released a lotion, which is packed with skin-loving ingredients like jojoba oil, vitamins E, A, and hyaluronic acid. And the lightweight lotion means you won’t be left feeling greasy.
- Moisturizes for up to 48 hours
- Improves skin elasticity
- Heavy formula
- Only intended for night use
Ingredients: Vitamin E, Shea butter, Cocoa butter, Lutein, Argan oil, Almond oil
There are a lot of amazing skincare brands out there. But then there are those tried and true drugstore brands that we all know just work. This is a wallet-friendly nighttime cream designed to boost the skin’s elasticity thanks to the inclusion of shea butter, cocoa butter, elastin, collagen, and lutein. The brand promises you’ll achieve up to 48 hours of moisture between applications.
Best for preventing stretch marks during pregnancy: Nakery No More Stripes Stretched Skin Oil
Nakery No More Stripes Stretched Skin Oil
- Clinically proven to improve the look of stretch marks
- Also effective on older stretch marks or scars
- Organic vegan formula
- May be expensive for some
- Not everyone will like an oil
Ingredients: Essential oils, Apricot oil, Tamanu oil, Evening Primrose Oil, Sunflower Oil, Olive Oil, Rosehip Seed Oil
Prevention is the best way to avoid stretch marks. While you can’t guarantee that you won’t get stretch marks, incorporating a skin-friendly moisturizer like throughout your pregnancy is a smart way to get ahead of them. This oil is packed with 10 organic botanical oils such as orange peel oil, lavender oil, and apricot oil to improve the skin’s tone and appearance.
- Retinol aids in cell turnover and targets uneven skin tone
- Shea butter and vitamin E boost moisture
- Non-greasy lotion texture
- Retinol is not safe for use during pregnancy
Ingredients: Vitamin C, Retinol, Shea butter, Evening Primrose Oil
If you weren’t able to tackle your stretch marks during pregnancy, or they appeared anyway, you’ll want a good postpartum stretch mark product. This cult-favorite treatment is a great way to banish uneven skin tone, texture, and blemishes. It incorporates moisturizing ingredients like shea butter and vitamin E, while the brightening ingredients retinol and vitamin C help to tackle issues like hyperpigmentation. However, because this contains the active ingredients retinol and vitamin C, you should avoid using this while pregnant, and consider speaking with your physician before using if you plan to breastfeed or nurse.
- All natural and organic formula
- Safe for use during and after pregnancy
- Moisture-rich ingredients to boost skin elasticity
- Formula may be a bit greasy
- May have an earthy scent that doesn’t appeal to everyone
- Not vegan
Ingredients: Jojoba oil, Shea butter, Essential oils, Sunflower Oil, Olive Oil
When you want to be confident that you’re using a product that isn’t loaded with absolutely questionable ingredients, opting for a stretch mark cream with a natural formula is a good idea. This moisturizer is made with just natural and organic ingredients like jojoba, shea butter, olive oil, and rosemary oil. Plus, it’s safe for use during and after pregnancy.
- Clean beauty and vegan formula
- Broad spectrum SPF 35
- Can be difficult to emulsify
Ingredients: Panthenol, Mineral sunscreen, Allantoin
If you weren’t aware, tanning doesn’t make stretch marks go away — it amplifies them. So, you’ll want to also incorporate SPF if you’re going to be spending time outdoors and your stretch marks will be visible. This sunscreen is a clean beauty product that works to minimize the look of scars or blemishes while also providing vital sun protection with broad-spectrum sunscreen.
- Clean beauty and vegan formula
- Dermatologist tested
- Very thick formula, if you want a lightweight option
Ingredients: Panthenol, Hyaluronic acid, Shea butter, Squalane, Ceramides
This natural and clean brand makes a gentle hydrating blend that’s hypoallergenic and dermatologist tested (and pediatrician approved, so the whole family can use it). It combines the a natural squalane with vitamin B5, hyaluronic acid, shea butter and ceramides for a well rounded formula that bolsters your skin barrier function and reduces irritation.
Best stretch mark cream for itchy skin: Aroamas Professional Silicone Scar Sheets
Aroamas Professional Silicone Scar Sheets
- Reusable & washable
- Sensitive skin safe
- Harder to use if your stretch marks cover a large surface area
Technically speaking, this isn’t a cream. But if you’re looking for an intensive option that delivers on minimizing your stretch marks, these pads work overtime. Along with being easy to apply, they’re reusable, washable, and non-irritating. While they won’t banish the marks entirely, they’re clinically proven to reduce the look and appearance. Additionally, they create a physical layer between you and your skin—which can help keep you from itching and scratching.
Can you prevent stretch marks?
In short, you can’t completely prevent stretch marks. Still, experts have noted that while there’s no magic potion that can prevent stretch marks from appearing, there are healthy habits you can incorporate that will lower your chances of getting them.
- Stay hydrated inside and out: Drinking plenty of water means that your skin can maintain elasticity—an essential component to prevent stretch marks. Don’t forget that keeping your skin hydrated by moisturizing it regularly can also help.
- Check your diet: Incorporate foods that are rich in zinc, protein, and vitamins A, C, and D. Just be sure that you’re also following pregnancy food guidelines to avoid known foods that might not be safe when you’re eating for two.
- Exercise: While you should be mindful of pregnancy-related limitations, staying active boosts blood flow which aids in collagen production.
You can’t banish stretch marks with OTC skincare products. The best way to manage stretch marks is to take a preventative approach. This means that you focus on moisturizing your skin while you have your baby bump, drink plenty of water, and focus on a diet rich in skin-friendly foods. But, remember that you can’t always avoid stretch marks—no matter how proactive you are. And this is why a good moisturizing product with ingredients that target stretch marks is important to help minimize their look and appearance. Want more full body hydrators? Check our mbg’s favorite body lotions.