The 11 Best Stretch Mark Creams for Pregnancy of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

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Best Stretch Mark Creams for Pregnancy

Verywell Family / Brian Kopinski

During pregnancy, your body undergoes a lot of changes beyond that growing bump. Many pregnant people will develop stretch marks on their belly, thighs, hips, or other parts of their body. While there’s no miracle solution to preventing or getting rid of them, moisturizing lotions, oils, and balms may help reduce the appearance of stretch marks or lighten them in color. To determine the best stretch mark creams, we tested 20 of them at home over a six-week period.

Tested & Approved

The Palmers Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Cream for Stretch Marks is smooth, moisturizing, and affordable. For an extra hydrating experience, we recommend the Burt's Bees Mama Belly Butter.

Stretch marks, also known as striae, are scars under the skin, says Sonia Badreshia-Bansal, MD, CEO, co-founder, and medical director of Elite MD. “They pop up when the skin stretches quickly—think during pregnancy, rapid weight gain or loss, and puberty,” she tells Verywell Family. Using a stretch mark cream will hydrate and moisturize your belly as it expands, potentially helping to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Whether you choose to use a cream or not, it’s important to remember that stretch marks are perfectly natural—think of them as symbols of the incredible things your body is capable of doing and growing.

During testing, we considered the feel, scent, ease of application, and cost of each of these creams—all important factors to keep in mind when you’re picking a product to buy for yourself—and came up with this list of the best stretch mark creams.

Best Overall

Palmer's Cocoa Butter Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks

4.9
Palmer's Cocoa Butter Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks

Amazon

Pros
  • Rubs in easily

  • Pleasant light scent

  • Phthalate- and paraben-free

Cons
  • Tube is too big to travel with

  • Requires lots of product per use

The Palmers Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Cream for Stretch Marks is our top pick because it provides a soothing, hydrating experience. It’s made from water, glycerine, coconut oil, and shea butter, among other ingredients, and it’s free from mineral oil, parabens, phthalates, fragrance allergens, and dyes. Our tester appreciated that the cream is simple to apply and goes onto the skin smoothly. They also reported that it was easy to rub in, even though it looks thick when you squeeze it out of the tube. 

Feeling sticky after applying lotion is never pleasant, and it may be especially unpleasant while you’re dealing with pregnancy symptoms. This stretch mark cream doesn’t feel sticky or greasy after application, according to our tester, who added, “I was happy to rub [the] excess into my hands without feeling the need to wash them afterwards.”

This stretch mark cream is nearly odorless, making it a great pick for expecting parents experiencing nausea or aversions to smell. “I had to bring it up directly to my nose before I could smell any scent,” our tester said, describing the faint scent as “pleasant” and “very light.”

Our tester’s only complaint was the size of the tube. The 4.4-ounce tube is too large to fly with in your carry-on, but small enough that it was used up quickly. When applying the lotion, “I was surprised by the amount I had to use.”

At $10, this is one of the most budget-friendly picks on our list. We find it worth it for pregnant people looking for something inexpensive, hydrating, and relieving for their skin.

Price at time of publication: $10

Best Scent

Earth Mama Organics Belly Butter

4.8
Earth Mama Organics Belly Butter

Walmart

Pros
  • Pleasant orange scent

  • Moisturizing

  • Can help soothe itchy skin

Cons
  • Scent may be too strong for those with nausea

Earth Mama Belly Butter is a moisturizing stretch mark cream with a lovely orange scent. Ingredients include aloe (great for soothing a dry, itchy belly!), herbs, and essential oils, and it’s free from petroleum, mineral oil, parabens, and artificial fragrance. Our tester was “happily surprised” by the orange scent, and didn’t find the smell too overpowering. 

The Belly Butter is thick yet lightweight. Our tester reported that “it goes on smooth and actually absorbs into your skin,” adding that she didn’t feel greasy after she applied it.

Our tester’s highest praise for this stretch mark cream was for its moisturizing effect. “This will certainly keep your skin hydrated,” she said, adding that it kept her bump moisturized as her pregnancy progressed. 

The Earth Mama Belly Butter is $17, less pricey than many other options on the market. And good news for frequent travelers: This belly butter is also available in a TSA-approved travel size

Price at time of publication: $17

Best Balm

Munchkin Milkmakers TwistStick Belly Balm

4.8
Munchkin Milkmakers TwistStick Belly Balm

Amazon

Pros
  • Easy to apply with the twisting stick

  • May also help soothe chafing skin or chapped nipples

Cons
  • Sweet scent might not be for everybody

The Munchkin Milkmakers TwistStick Belly Balm is smooth, easy to put on, and hydrating. To apply, simply remove the cap and rub the stick of balm across your skin, almost as if you’re applying a sunscreen stick. This design saves you the mess and greasiness of typical stretch mark creams, and it’s also easy to toss into your bag and take on the go. 

The balm is “smooth and not too greasy,” our tester said. Naturally, a stretch mark cream will be a little oily, but our tester happily reported that after using this balm, her skin “glistened.” The Belly Balm has a warm, comforting scent that wasn’t too overpowering, according to our tester. Since the balm is moisturizing and not messy, it could also help soothe chapped nipples during the breastfeeding stage or other chafed skin.

For $13, this is a great option for those looking for a moisturizing stretch mark cream that doesn’t make a mess. It also stands out from other stretch mark creams due to its unique container and design.

Price at time of publication: $13

What Our Testers Said

“It smells like butter or like oats. I really enjoyed the smell, although it wasn't super strong.” — Alesa Andrew, Senior Director of Operations, Digital Video

Best Oil

Bio-Oil Multiuse Skincare Oil

4.8
Bio-Oil Skincare Oil

Ulta

Pros
  • Several bottle sizes available

  • Contains Vitamins E and A

  • Great for those who don’t like the feeling of a cream

Cons
  • May feel greasy

If you prefer the feel of body oil as opposed to a cream, the Bio-Oil Skincare Oil is our top pick. It contains lavender, rosemary, chamomile, and calendula oils, as well as Vitamins E and A. The oil rubs on smoothly and evenly, though it does come out of the bottle “quite fast,” according to a tester. 

To apply the body oil, rub it into your skin using a circular motion. After testing the Bio-Oil Skincare Oil, one tester reported, “I love the dry-oil feel. It doesn't make a mess and is a great lightweight oil for warmer months.” It’s important to note that if you choose an oil, it may be greasier than a traditional cream. “It did make me feel greasy initially, but I just put on an old T-shirt as it dried,” a tester said. 

This body oil’s light scent was “very pleasant,” if a little powdery, according to testers. “I bet if I smelled it now, it would make me feel nostalgic about my pregnancy,” one added. The bottle is available in several sizes, including an extra small travel size.

Price at time of publication: $22

Best Hydration

Burt's Bees Mama Belly Butter with Shea Butter and Vitamin E

4.4
Burt's Bees Mama Belly Butter with Shea Butter and Vitamin E

Amazon

Pros
  • Helps prevent dry skin

  • Fragrance-free

  • Works for prenatal and postpartum skin

Cons
  • Thick formula may take time to rub in

Burt’s Bees Mama Belly Butter is a deeply hydrating stretch mark cream, great for the winter months and those prone to dry skin. (Our tester found that it eased the itchiness she was experiencing due to skin dryness.) Formulated from 99% natural ingredients, including cocoa shea and jojoba butters, it doesn’t contain any parabens, phthalates, petrolatum, or SLS. 

Our tester appreciated the feel of this thick belly butter, which “doesn’t feel oily at all.” She added that “it pretty much disappears into dry skin as soon as you rub it in,” so there isn’t much messy residue. Since this stretch mark cream is fragrance-free, the scent is “really inoffensive” and a safe bet for pregnant people who may be experiencing nausea or smell aversions, our tester noted.

Reasonably priced at $13, the 6.5-ounce tub can be recycled once you’ve used up all of the product.

Price at time of publication: $13

Best Splurge

HATCH Maternity Belly Oil

4.3
HATCH Maternity Belly Oil

Amazon

Pros
  • Feels luxurious

  • Plant-based and gluten-free

  • Pretty packaging

Cons
  • Expensive

If you’re looking to splurge, look no further than the Hatch Mama Belly Oil, which our tester described as “heavenly.” The plant-based, gluten-free belly oil contains nutrients such as grapefruit oil, calendula, and sweet almond oil. (Since it does contain many plant-derived ingredients, be sure to read the label to make sure you aren’t allergic to anything in the oil.) It’s also free from phthalates, parabens, fragrances, and dyes. 

Our tester described this product as “a really lovely, smooth body oil” that didn’t make her skin feel greasy or sticky. Its super light scent is “delicate and not noticeable,” so it’s not likely to bother the sensitive noses of pregnant folks..

Whether you’re a new mom pampering your postpartum skin or an expecting parent looking to soften and soothe the taut skin around your bump, the Hatch Mama Belly Oil is a great way to treat yourself. Thanks to its pretty pink packaging, this luxurious belly oil would also make a lovely baby shower gift. 

Price at time of publication: $64

What Our Testers Said

“This is a luxury body oil that makes a great gift. Does it make you feel like a million bucks when using it? Yes.” — Donna Freydkin, Associate Director

Best Texture

Evereden Nourishing Stretch Mark Cream

4.6
Evereden Nourishing Stretch Mark Cream

Amazon

Pros
  • No sticky feeling after application

  • Absorbs quickly

  • Soft texture

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Light scent

Made from a peptide blend and a variety of botanicals, such as mango butter and Indian gooseberry, this stretch mark cream absorbs quickly, leaving your skin feeling “nice and moisturized.” Our tester also reported that the product had a nice texture and didn’t make her skin feel sticky or greasy.

Though the label says that the cream is unscented, our tester found that it did have a light smell, though “it disappears over time and isn’t an issue,” she noted. This stretch mark cream also feels nice on the hands, she said. “I did not feel the need to wash my hands after applying the product, on the contrary—it felt nice!”

At $45, the Everden Nourishing Stretch Mark Cream is an investment, but we think it’s a worthwhile one if you have the budget for a luxurious moisturizer. 

Price at time of publication: $45

Best for Supple Skin

Belli Elasticity Belly Oil

4.5
Belli Elasticity Belly Oil

Amazon

Pros
  • Relaxing light scent

  • Can be used as massage oil

Cons
  • May take a while to fully rub in

While there is no product that has been clinically proven to prevent stretch marks, the Belli Elasticity Belly Oil did provide the best evidence of the bunch in our test. Our tester reported that while the oil did not change her existing thigh stretch marks, she made it through her pregnancy without any belly stretch marks, which may be due in part to using this product. (At least it was correlation, if not causation.)

This oil contains vitamin E, gotu kola plant extract, grape seed, and other preservative-free, pregnancy-safe ingredients that can nourish skin and make it more supple. The product has “a true oil consistency,” but it’s easy to spread and quickly absorbs into the skin, according to our tester. She did not find it overly greasy and appreciated that it can also be used as a massage oil for a relaxing prenatal massage.

Interestingly, the brand markets this belly oil as lavender-scented, though our tester primarily picked up on notes of almond. (The product does contain almond oil.) In any case, she described the scent as nice and light, adding, “It wasn't triggering to me when I was pregnant.”

Though it’s a bit pricier than some of the other options on our list, it’s worth it if you’re looking for a lightly-scented, absorbent oil.

Price at time of publication: $34

Best for Firming

Bushbalm Tush Firming Cream

4.2
Bushbalm Tush Firming Cream

Amazon

Pros
  • Ingredients aim to tighten and firm up skin

  • Almond and vanilla scent

Cons
  • Mainly targeted towards your butt

The Bush Balm Tush Firming Cream is a great pick for those looking to firm up and tighten their skin. It includes a variety of plant-derived ingredients, including brazil nut oil and coffee seed extract to provide antioxidants and help skin elasticity. Though the cream is primarily made for the butt, it’s safe to use on any skin that needs firming and energizing, according to the brand.

Our tester used the cream on her upper thighs and hips, finding that it “feels really nice and absorbs into the skin with little effort.” It also didn’t leave sticky residue behind after application.

For those who prefer a scented stretch mark cream, this product’s sweet vanilla and almond fragrance is pleasant, but not overwhelming, according to our tester. She added, “If you like almond-scented things, you’ll love this!”

The cream is available in an 8.76 fluid-ounce tube or a travel-safe 3.38 fluid-ounce tube. We recommend it to those looking to improve their skin’s elasticity and firmness, around the belly or otherwise.

Price at time of publication: $22

Best Butter

Pipette Belly Butter

4.2
Pipette Belly Butter

Amazon

Pros
  • Hydrating, especially for dry skin

  • No greasy feel

Cons
  • Herbal scent might not be for everyone

If you’re looking for a body butter to use on your belly, check out the Pipette Belly Butter. It’s made from all vegan ingredients, including sugarcane-derived squalane for skin nourishment. The butter “was really moisturizing and felt nice to apply,” our tester said. It also didn’t leave her skin feeling sticky or greasy. She appreciated that the product went on smoothly, though she did have to rub it in a few times before it was fully absorbed, due to its thicker, buttery consistency.

The Pipette Belly Butter has “very little scent,” according to our tester, which “made for a more pleasant application.” Its light scent is herbal, which she didn’t mind, though it may not be appealing to all noses.

At $20, this is a lower-priced body butter that will keep your skin nice and moisturized, especially in the colder months. Plus, the product is cruelty-free and hypoallergenic.

Price at time of publication: $20

Best Plant-Based Oil

Susanne Kaufmann Arnica Body Oil

4.2
Susanne Kaufmann Stretch Mark Oil

Amazon

Pros
  • Bright citrus and herb scent

  • Lightweight feel

  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons
  • Scent may be too strong for some

If finding a high-quality plant-based belly oil is important to you, consider the Susanne Kaufmann Arnica Body Oil (formerly known as Stretch Mark Oil). This lightweight oil absorbs into your skin quickly without feeling greasy after use, resulting in ”just a very soft feeling,” according to our tester. Made from a blend of arnica extract, jojoba oil, vitamin E, and more, “It has all of the most important ingredients I try to get in my body oils and absorbs into the skin nicely, leaving it feeling stronger and softer over time,” our tester said.

The oil has a unique, fresh scent that’s “lemony with hints of herbs.” Our tester enjoyed the “clean-feeling citrus fragrance,” but noted that the scent is strong, so it may not be the best pick if you’re sensitive to smell during pregnancy. She also found that the scent wasn’t as strong once she’d rubbed the oil into her skin.

Though the 100 milliliter (3.38 fluid ounce) bottle is small, a little goes a long way, according to our tester. (And it’s TSA-approved!) In addition to being plant-based, the Susanne Kaufmann Arnica Body Oil is paraffin-free, paraben-free, and certified vegan—meaning that no animals were harmed in the making of the product or the individual ingredients.

Price at time of publication: $30

What Our Testers Said

“I would recommend it as part of general skin and stretch mark care for people looking for soft, hydrated, and healthy-looking skin.” — Lydia Price, Commerce Editor, Travel + Leisure

How We Rated Stretch Mark Creams for Pregnancy

4.8 to 5 stars: These are the best stretch mark creams for pregnancy we tested. We recommend them without reservation.

4.5 to 4.7 stars: These stretch mark creams for pregnancy are excellent—they might have minor flaws, but we still recommend them.

4.0 to 4.5 stars: We think these are great stretch mark creams for pregnancy, but others are better.

3.5 to 3.9 stars: These stretch mark creams for pregnancy are just average.

3.4 and below: We don't recommend stretch mark creams for pregnancy with this rating; you won't find any on our list.

We Also Tested

  • Mustela Maternity Stretch Marks Cream: This stretch mark cream fell short compared to the others on our list. Though it went on smoothly, our tester found that it felt wet on her skin. She also noted that she had to wash her hands after each application “because the product had a tendency of lingering around.” 
  • Glow Organics Belly Butter: Testers didn’t mind this product, but other butters did better in our test and cost less than this one. However, if you’re looking for an organic belly butter, this is a solid option.
  • Mederma Stretch Marks Therapy: While it absorbs quickly, our tester had a tough time using this product due to the heavy perfumed scent. “And it's not just a pregnancy quirk,” she said. “My husband hated the smell too.” 
  • Dr. Jacobs Naturals Belly Jelly: Our tester reported that this product felt and smelled like ultrasound jelly, which was unpleasant. It was also sticky to spread across her skin.
  • Irene Organics Belly Balm: Though this stretch mark cream felt hydrating, it “had a beeswax-y feel” on the skin, which our tester found too greasy and sticky.
  • Body Merry Stretch Marks and Scars Defense Cream: This is an absorbent stretch mark cream, but we do not recommend it because our tester found the strong scent off-putting and was deterred from using the product. 

How We Tested Stretch Mark Creams for Pregnancy

Eighteen testers assessed 20 stretch mark creams at home over the course of six weeks. They were asked to evaluate the stretch mark creams on several attributes, including feel, ease of application, and scent. We also spoke with two board-certified dermatologists and RealSelf Advisory Board members—Sonia Badreshia-Bansal, MD, CEO, co-founder, and medical director of Elite MD, and Janet Allenby, DO, founder of Allenby Cosmetic Dermatology—to discuss how stretch marks form, what ingredients to look for in a stretch mark cream, and more.

To test stretch mark creams, we asked testers to apply the product as directed by the manufacturer for six weeks. They observed how the products felt, including how sticky or greasy the creams were and if they needed to wash their hands after application. We also asked testers to note how quickly the products were absorbed and if they stained clothing. Additionally, testers assessed each product’s scent, considering whether the smell was overpowering or pleasant and noting if fragrance-free products delivered on that promise. At the end of the six-week testing period, testers were asked to describe how the stretch mark creams had worked, including how convenient the products were to use and how well they integrated into their daily routine.

What to Look for in Stretch Mark Creams for Pregnancy

Ingredients 

When it comes to buying a stretch mark cream, you’ll want to pick one that best suits your personal needs. If you prefer to use plant-based products, check out the Susanne Kaufmann Arnica Body Oil or the Pipette Belly Butter, both made from plant-based or vegan ingredients. Additionally, make sure to check that the product doesn’t contain any ingredients that pregnant people are advised not to use, such as retinol and phthalates.

It’s also important to find a stretch mark cream that will keep your skin moisturized as it stretches throughout pregnancy. "Ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, thick moisturizers, and balms can help with trapping moisture," Dr. Badreshia-Bansal tells Verywell Family.

Skin Type

There are many different forms of stretch mark creams available, so you’ll want to keep your own skin type in mind when choosing the best fit for you. If you have sensitive skin, you'll more than likely want to avoid any creams with artificial ingredients and fragrances. "Stick with fragrance-free, hypoallergenic products to avoid irritant or allergic reactions," Dr. Badreshia-Bansal advises. On the other hand, if you have dry skin, a hydrating ointment or cream may be more effective at keeping in moisture and less irritating than a thinner lotion, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Cost 

Some brands recommend that you apply their stretch mark creams more than once a day, so consider your budget and how often you might need to buy a new bottle. To help make sure you’re getting the most out of your money, you may want to determine the cost of the cream per ounce. Some stretch mark creams are also available in travel sizes, allowing you to sample the product before committing to a larger, pricier bottle.

Stretch marks can be difficult to treat, so aside from the cost of cream, you may be thinking of getting an office treatment after you've delivered, another cost to consider. Office treatments will likely be more expensive than an over-the-counter cream but can have a noticeable effect on stretch marks, says Dr. Allenby.

Self-Care

Whether you choose a balm, oil, or cream, incorporating a stretch mark cream into your daily routine is a great form of self-care. This practice also offers a chance to connect with the baby in your belly: “I liked the ritual of applying this [stretch mark cream] in the evenings and talking to my baby,” says Emily Rose, one of our testers and the Vice President and General Manager of Verywell Family.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why do stretch marks appear?

    Stretch marks are a type of scarring under the skin that appears when skin stretches rapidly, such as during pregnancy. This rapid change prompts the collagen and elastin in your skin to rupture, causing stretch marks to appear. Initially, they “have a purple, pink, or red hue, gradually fading to more of a skin-toned color,” Dr. Badreshia-Bansal says.

    While there are several potential factors that may contribute to the appearance of stretch marks, a 2013 study suggests that stretch marks may be due to genetic factors. This means that some people are more prone to getting stretch marks than others simply based on their genetics. This is important to keep in mind when trying to reduce the appearance of your stretch marks, as you may be more prone to getting darker or more stretch marks simply because of your genetics, which is totally normal.

  • When do I start using stretch mark creams during pregnancy?

    Generally speaking, the earlier you begin using stretch mark creams, the better. Even if your skin isn’t stretching yet, the creams will still provide your skin with helpful hydration. That being said, when you move into maternity pants and your belly is starting to show, it’s a good time to start using stretch mark cream to support your skin as it stretches out.

  • Do stretch mark creams actually work?

    According to the American Academy of Dermatology, stretch mark creams are primarily effective on new marks, rather than older, more mature ones. So, you need to be proactive about putting the cream on during pregnancy rather than waiting until after you’ve had the baby and your marks are more visible. 

    Also, note that results are not immediate and can take weeks or more to appear. "Creams for stretch marks target skin laxity, color abnormalities, and tissue brilliance," explains Dr. Allenby. Stretch mark creams address this thinned skin and abnormal coloring by “normalizing and signaling skin cell turnover [as well as] surface smoothness and radiance.”

    However, stretch mark creams may not produce the desired final effects. According to Dr. Allenby, stretch marks are difficult to treat to a “100% resolution” in a medical office, let alone with just a cream by itself. In her opinion, office procedures—such as lasers and radio frequency treatments—combined with topical creams are the best way to reduce the appearance of stretch marks.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Phoebe Sklansky is Verywell Family’s Associate Commerce Editor. As a commerce writer and an avid shopper herself, she enjoys helping readers find the best products for their unique needs. Prior to joining the Verywell Family team, Phoebe Sklansky was a freelance writer for multiple home and entertainment outlets. She holds a B.A. from Vanderbilt University. When she’s not at her desk, you can find her taking a walk on the West Side Highway, catching up on reality TV, or attempting to cook in her countertop-less kitchen.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Dermatology. "Stretch marks: why they appear and how to get rid of them."

  2. American Academy of Dermatology. "Dermatologists' top tips for relieving dry skin"

  3. Tung JY, Kiefer AK, Mullins M, Francke U, Eriksson N. Genome-wide association analysis implicates elastic microfibrils in the development of nonsyndromic striae distensae. Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 2013;133(11):2628-2631.