Truth: There’s only so much you can do to prevent and treat stretch marks. Whether you’re going through a growth spurt, growing an actual bb inside your belly, or just going about your normal life genetically predisposed to getting them, stretch marks are completely normal. THAT SAID, just because something is ~normal~ doesn’t mean you necessarily want to deal with it (lookin’ at you, chafing). And that’s totally your prerogative.
So if you have been looking into stretch mark treatments, you’ve probs heard some pretty convincing testimonials about stretch mark oil. But to find out if it’s as great as people say, we turned to board-certified dermatologists Dendy Engelman, MD, and Caroline Robinson, MD, to find out everything there is to know about your “tiger stripes” and how to potentially get rid of them.
Does oil actually fade stretch marks?
That’s a big ol’ nope. Dr. Robinson says many stretch mark creams, lotions, gels, and oils have been studied, and no single product seems to help consistently—and many don’t even help at all. Not even in-office treatments, like laser therapy and microneedling that help stimulate collagen production, can totally get rid of your stretchies. And since treatment isn’t 100 percent effective, all you’re left with is prevention. I know, I know—that’s not helpful for existing marks, and that’s also a lot easier said than done because hormonal shifts and family history play a big part in your skin. As Dr. Robinson points out, we don’t have control over a lot of the factors that influence whether we will get stretch marks, but there are a few things you can do to help your skin barrier in general:
How do you prevent stretch marks?
Since stretch marks are a result of the body expanding faster than your skin is able to keep up, Dr. Engelman says keeping your skin moisturized and hydrated could potentially help it. “The more pliable your skin is, the less chance there is that stretch marks will appear,” Dr. Engelman says. Still, no oil will get rid of your stretch marks, but applying oils to your skin can supplement the natural lipid barrier, which helps the skin retain moisture.
And because lipid barrier damage occurs on a daily basis from cleansing and other environmental factors, maintaining healthy skin requires frequent application of lipids. In other words, while body oils may or may not do wonders for your stretch marks (Dr. Robinson says there’s no evidence that consistently moisturizing your skin works to prevent them), they’ll still help your overall skin health with virtually no downsides (although certain ingredients, like retinol, should be avoided by those who are pregnant).
So now that you’ve adjusted your expectations and you want to give an oil a try (again, your prerogative), here are a few best-selling stretch mark oils.
Best Body Oil Treatment
Clarins Tonic Body Treatment Oil
Dr. Robinson says plant oils in particular are a rich source of essential fatty acids and vitamins, which can help improve skin elasticity. This formula is 100 percent pure plant extracts, which is why it’s a favorite after-shower body oil of the many reviewers who swear by it for smooth, supple skin.
Overall Best Stretch Mark Oil
Bio-Oil Skincare Oil
Dr. Engelman isn’t the only fan of this skincare oil—it has nearly 14,000 positive ratings on Amazon for good reason: It contains PurCellin oil (a synthetic version of an oil that ducks, for example, spread onto their feathers to essentially help waterproof them and keep them flexible) along with vitamin A (to jump-start new collagen and promote cell turnover) and vitamin E (to nourish skin). Bonus: It uses calendula oil to help with cell regeneration, lavender oil to calm skin, rosemary oil to condition it, and chamomile to minimize inflammation.
Best Dry Oil for Stretch Marks
Belly Oil Mini Me
One major drawback of body oils is the greasiness they tend to leave behind. But this oil contains a combo of calendula, sweet almond, and jojoba oils, helping it dry quickly so it doesn’t stain your clothes or sheets.
Best Allover Body Oil
Elemis Japanese Camellia Oil Blend
Beauty eds regularly sing the praises of this lightweight oil that easily absorbs into the skin. You can thank its magical blend of plant collagen, vitamin E, sweet almond oil, and camellia oil for keeping your skin’s moisture locked in and hydrated all day. Oh, and you can use it as a hair, nail, and scalp treatment when you really want to treat yourself.
Best Organic Stretch Mark Oil
Erbaviva Organic Stretch Mark Oil
If your skin can handle essential oils (they tend to be sensitizing), this slightly aromatic, USDA-certified organic formula doesn’t disappoint. It uses sunflower oil to soothe the skin, carrot seed to increase skin elasticity, and vitamin E to moisturize. Pro tip: To optimally hydrate areas that are prone to stretch marks (like the thighs, hips, breasts, and stomach), Dr. Robinson says to layer oils over your thicker moisturizers to prevent water loss.
Best Stretch Mark Oil for Pregnancy
The Organic Pharmacy Stretch Mark Oil
Aside from the visible effects pregnancy stretch marks leave behind, they can also leave your skin feeling insanely itchy as your skin stretches for your bb. Massage this fragrance- and sulfate-free certified-organic oil into your skin and growing belly morning and night to keep it soothed and moisturized with help from sunflower and rose-hip oils and vitamin E.
Best Stretch Mark Oil for Bedtime
Dr. Hauschka Blackthorn Toning Body Oil
Smooth on this sunflower and blackthorn-based body oil from natural skincare line Dr. Hauschka at night on top of your creams and wake up to skin that feels crazy moisturized by morning. Note: This formula also has a woodsy scent, so if you’re sensitive to strong smells, you might want to move along to another on the list.
Best Anti-Aging Body Oil
Tata Harper Revitalizing Body Oil
Once you get over the sticker shock of this luxe body oil, you’ll only care about how much you love it. This natural and nontoxic blend uses evening primrose oil for soothing benefits, camellia oil for anti-aging benefits, and a ton of other antioxidants and vitamins to address the signs of aging and potentially improve your skin’s appearance.
Best-Smelling Stretch Mark Oil
Amareta Nourishing Belly Oil
You don’t need a spring fragrance when you’ve got a body oil that smells as nice as this one. It’ll help calm your mood with geranium and sweet orange oil while working to keep your skin hydrated your skin with sunflower and jojoba oils and vitamin E. Heads up: Fragrant plant-based oils aren’t for everyone, so if you have sensitive skin or a plant-based allergy, it’s probably best to skip this pick.
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