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The best products to prevent stretch marks naturally

Stretch marks are a hot topic. Many women dread them and as soon as they get pregnant they are researching how to avoid them! Others don’t think about them until it is too late! women-pregnant-ball

Also there is the controversy over how much topical creams or oils can actually impact your stretch marks…or is it all down to genetics?

I believe in taking a more preventative, no stone unturned approach – even if you might be more disposed to getting stretch marks you should still try to minimise their effects!

Here are some ways to minimise your stretch marks that I recommend to everyone as well as some key ingredients commonly found in many stretch mark products that are best avoided. Finally, of course I also share the best products to prevent stretch marks…in my opinion!

Why do some people get stretch marks and others don’t?

A bit of science stretch marks occur when your skin stretches quickly. Collagen and cortisone are the main elements found in your body that may contribute to your propensity to get stretch marks.

Collagen is a protein found in your skin that makes it more elastic…think of all those marketing claims for anti aging products about collagen! If you don’t have enough collagen, it can increase your risk of getting stretch marks.

Cortisone/cortisol is a hormone that’s released by the adrenal glands. This hormone is most frequently released as a response to stress. Cortisol levels rise during pregnancy, especially late in 3rd trimester which is the point where we are doing the most stretching!!

50 – 80% of women will get stretch marks at some point, genes do play an important role however all is not lost you can definitely minimise the effects from inside out with the right balance of vitamins and super foods and from the outside in with the best possible ingredients to keep your skin strong, healthy and super moisturised.

Key tips to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy

Lifestyle is very important during pregnancy – we know that we need to nourish ourselves in order to give our baby the best start in life.

Here are some essentials for every pregnant woman:

  1. Water: This is so important, you will need to pee all the time but don’t let that put you off – drink lots of water. It will help to keep your skin stay hydrated; dry skin is more likely to stretch than moisturised skin.
  2. Exfoliation: This is something that I didn’t do enough of during my 1st pregnancy but I will do it next time! Using a body scrub to slough away the dry and dull surface layer of skin in your shower. It will open up the pores so they will be able to fully absorb the stretch mark products put on.
  3. Food: Pregnancy is absolutely the time to nourish your body – eat when you are hungry. I was hungry ALL the time! But I made sure I reached for healthy snacks – nuts, seeds, this oat bread is delicious and packed full of nutrients. Vegetables are crucial as well. The old wives’ tale about being able to eat as much cake as you want when you are pregnant like anything in excess is not a good idea and it will affect your skin.
  4. Vitamins: Your doctor or nutritionist would be able to work with you on your specific needs but generally Vitamin C is very important for the way your skin develops collagen, which in turn helps keep skin strong and elasticated. Other important vitamins are Vitamin E, Zinc, B2, B3, Protein and Omega 3 fatty acids.
  5. Exercise: Some people feel that they should stop all exercise when they get pregnant but exercise is super important for most people to maintain a healthy weight (obviously check with your doctor first). I did a lot of walking and some Pilates. I think second time around I would like to keep up my gym work as I have been doing it consistently for some time now.

Key Ingredients to avoid

There are a lot of stretch mark products on the market – Oils, creams and lotions.

You can look up your products or the individual ingredients on EWG Skindeep database or on Think Dirty app. As a shortcut you can also check out my general rules for assessing dangerous chemicals in cosmetics.

Some of the best-selling stretch mark products have ingredients that I really would not want near my skin ever…let alone during pregnancy, see a few examples below.

Bio Oil – this is probably the most famous stretch mark product on the bio-oilmarket. It is also marketed to reduce the appearance of scarring. This product is such a marketing success but if you actually look at the ingredients and break it down. Mineral Oil is the number 1 ingredient on the Ingredient list – read more about Mineral oil here.

Some other questionable ingredients all rated as of concern on EWG Skindeep database for various reasons from allergens to endocrine disruption. I have picked out the 4 that I think are absolutely too crucial to avoid.

  • Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A) – Vitamin A is widely recommended avoiding during pregnancy. It is a type of retinoid which has been conclusively linked to birth defects when taken orally. Topically has not been conclusively proven but it is widely recommended avoiding. They are found in a lot of anti aging skincare.
  • Benzyl Salicylate – is linked to allergies, immunotoxicty as well as endocrine disruption and Eco toxicology
  • BHT – is also an endocrine distruptor and has been linked to developmental/reproductive toxicity as well as cancer
  • Tocopheryl Acetatequestions about being contamination with Hydroquinone

Palmers Cocoa Tummy butter & lotion for stretch marks – this is the USA’s palmer-cocoa-butter-lotionnumber one selling brand for stretch marks. It is widely available and inexpensive.

  • Polyethylene glycol (PEG compounds) are widely used as thickeners and softeners. They are known to cause dermatitis even in very low concentrations. They range from a 3 to an 8 rating on EWG.
  • Fragrance is a blanket term that can include a lot of different chemicals and companies are not required to divulge the formulation. Fragrance is rated an 8 on EWG.
  • Dimethicone is a silicone compound, it is rated 3 on EWG. These are very common in a lot of cosmetics and whilst they haven’t been proven to be harmful to your health, they do blog your pores.
  • Petrolatum the real issue is contamination concerns especially with PAHS. It is rated 4 on EWG.
  • Benzyl cinnamate often used as a fragrance ingredient, it is rated 5 on EWG due to questions around immune system toxican and allergies.
  • Benzyl benzoate is used as a fragrance ingredient and it is also antimicrobial. It is rated 6 on EWG due to questions of immune, allergies and endocrine disruption.

These are two of the best-selling stretch mark products on the market but I would not use either of them!

So here are some of my suggestions on what to use that will nourish your skin whilst not exposing you to unnecessary questionable chemicals.

Best stretch mark products

Before we dive into product recommendations there is always a personal preference around the format of the stretch mark product you like to use.

Cream – Creams have a larger percentage of oil content and are useful to deeply nourish and hydrate dry skin. Creams are generally better in the winter when there is less moisture in the air, or in dry climates.

Lotion – Has a higher percentage for water. The texture is runnier. They are good to keep skin hydrated. Lotions are generally better in the summer or in humid climates.

Oil – deeply conditions, nourishes and improves skin tone and elasticity but its primary function is not to hydrate.

For more information on hydrating vs, moisturising – see this post on dry skin.

For me personally I like Oil – it is easy to apply and absorbs deeper into the skin and the focus is on elasticity. But I will recommend a few options for you to choose.

Weleda Mother, Stretch Mark Massage Oil

weleda-stretch-mark-oil

Ingredients

  • Sweet almond oil – preserves the skin’s moisture to keep skin supple
  • Organic arnica flower extract helps ease tightness and discomfort
  • Jojoba seed oil – anti-inflammatory properties which soothe the irritated skin and also to regenerating the skin cells
  • Essential oils – this means it has a lovely spicy scent. However, if you have sensitive skin I would recommend going for Pai below that doesn’t contain any essential oils.

Performance

  • Light oils that absorbs easily
  • Pleasant scent

Shop

  • Hong Kong: iherb and selected stores like Just Green.
  • USA: Widely available.
  • Australia: Weleda’s own website
  • UK: Widely available in health food stores and online.

Zoe Organics Belly Butter

zoe-organics-belly-butter

Ingredients

  • Shea Butter – Rich in Vitamins E and F and effectively treats dry skin, stretch marks, itchy skin, skin rashes, eczema and dermatitis
  • Rosehip Oil – high levels of essential fatty acids and vitamin E. It assists with cell regeneration and promotes collagen and elastic levels to increase
  • Avocado Oil – Rich in antioxidant vitamins E and D which help to heal stretch marks and scarring

Performance

  • Texture is never greasy but not too light
  • Scent is sweet but not heavy
  • Small pot but a little goes a long way

They also have a belly oil which has fabulous reviews.

Shop

  • Hong Kong: iherb
  • USA: Widely available.
  • Australia: Not available buy but some US sites will ship it in like iherb.
  • UK: Not available buy but some US sites will ship it in like iherb.

Pai Pomegranate And Pumpkin Seed Stretch Mark System – It is a pai_stretch_mark_systemtwo product system with the Hydrating Cream that puts water into skin best used in the morning. And the Conditioning Oil increases skin suppleness and elasticity to help prevent Stretch Marks. It is Essential Oil & Fragrance Free which will be helpful to sensitive Mamas.

Ingredients

  • Wheat germ oil – Very high concentration of Vitamin E
  • Pomegranate seed extract – strong antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties to calm and nourish the skin
  • Pumpkin seed oil – essential fatty acids and on the other hand the flavonoids. Flavonoids also have an influence on the cardiovascular system, the vessels and various biochemical.

Performance

  • Texture is never greasy but not too light
  • Scent is sweet but not heavy
  • Small pot but a little goes a long way

They also have a belly oil which has fabulous reviews.

Shop

Also other natural oils such as Argan, Almond and coconut oil all have great properties to help with stretch marks.

These are all the best products to prevent stretch marks in my opinion – full of wonderful natural ingredients to help hydrate, moisturise and nourish your skin as it stretches to accomodate your baby.

Conclusion

Stretch marks are something we all want to avoid – keeping your skin moisturised and hydrated will not only help with stretch marks but also minimise that incredible itch that you can get when your skin stretches.

Finally it is also a lovely ritual to have with your bump – there is a little baby growing inside there which is such an incredible thing, spend a little time thinking about how amazing that is as you rub your belly with a nourishing stretch mark cream or oil.

 


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