We've found the best stretch mark treatments
And it’s not just pregnant bellies they can help
Beauty Crew Contributing Editor / November 16 2018
You can run, but you can’t hide from stretch marks (ever uber-fit Kayla Itsines has them). But that’s ok. They’re completely harmless and if you’re anything like Chrissy Teigen, you’ll learn to love them. Think of them as an equivalent to laugh lines– they’re just a part of who you are.
But that said, we get that you may be on the hunt for the best treatment for stretch marks, so we’re here to help. When it comes to stretch mark treatments, there are products that work to prevent stretch marks, products that are formulated to heal stretch marks, and those that do both.
“Stretch marks are minute tears in the support tissue of the dermis, caused by either stretching or contracting of the skin,” says Clarins’ Head of Training, Charlotte Turner. The collagen and elastin responsible for keeping skin supple struggles to produce at the same rate as the stretching, which causes stretch marks to become visible. They first show up as red or purple marks, then fade to white lines that create a slight groove in the surface of the skin.
So who’s at risk? It’s not just pregnant women. Turner explains that the main causes of stretch marks are “Body mass changes, sometimes due to the size of growth during pregnancy or as the skin shrinks during weight loss”.
Most people will experience stretch marks around their belly or thighs, but they can appear anywhere, including breasts, hips and upper arms.
The way stretch marks treatments work is by helping to rebuild the integrity of the collagen that has been damaged. Hydrating ingredients are also key as they help with tissue repair and keep skin soft and supple.
For particularly deep stretch marks, and ones you’ve had for a long time, microneedling or fractional CO2 laser may be a better option for you.
Note, if you’re pregnant, some ingredients in stretch mark creams may not be suitable. Always chat to your doctor first for advice on the best stretch mark cream for pregnancy.
Good to know: It’s not just the product you use, but also how you apply it. “Apply using gentle circular motions to the thighs, hips, midriff and breasts. The skin has already been negatively impacted by stretching, so it is important to warm the product before applying, pressing gently into the skin,” advises Turner.
Now down to business. We’ve done the research for you to find the best product for stretch marks. Take your pick from our 10 favourite stretch mark treatments.
#10 / Revitol Stretch Mark Prevention
As you will have noticed in the name, this product is aimed at preventing stretch marks from appearing in the first place. To do just that, it utilises the power of squaline oil, which strengthens the bonds between skin cells to prevent the skin breakages that cause stretch marks to form. Grapefruit seed extract is in charge of keeping your skin toned and tight and aloe vera improves skin elasticity.
The review: “What an incredible product. I originally got Revitol Stretch Cream after doing some research into the best formula. Everything that the study said should be in a cream, I found in Revitol – so I pulled the trigger and ordered some. My breast stretch marks have been there since I was like 20 years old. It took it a couple weeks and it was like they were never there. Just goes to show that a good product with good ingredients can do anything.” Katie, Revitol customer
#9 / Palmer's Cocoa Butter Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks
Collagen- and skin elasticity-boosting, this cream packs a punch for such a bargain buy. During an independent study in 2011, 97 per cent of women tested said this lotion delivered a 59 per cent increase in their skin elasticity. You’ll find a lot of great ingredients in the formula: antioxidant-rich vitamin E to smooth scars and protect skin from free radical damage, centella asiatica to revitalise collagen and elastin fibres, and Palmer’s signature cocoa butter to deeply nourish.
The review: “I am not pregnant but I had some nasty stretch marks on my thighs and butt cheeks. After using this product for about 2 weeks I am noticing visible reduction of my marks. Some of them are completely gone and some have faded very much. Smells nice, works well.” glitterSmitter, Walmart customer
#8 / Alpha Keri Body Slimfit Stretch Mark Reductor
The fact that this cream was found by 93 per cent of participants in a study to visibly improve stretch marks is a HUGE drawcard. The bonus is this formula also helps slim and shape! But back to the stretch marks – derivatives of siegesbeckia orientalis and centella asiatica extract work to stimulate the production of collagen, and a complex of pearl extract with proteolytic papain extract helps intensively regenerate collagen while it gently exfoliates skin.
The review: “I have been using this product for the past month and have noticed a considerable reduction in my stretch marks. Previously I had tried other products but given up after not noticing a change. This product is light and easily absorbs. Absolutely recommend it!!” Amy, Alpha Keri customer
#7 / Elemis Japanese Camellia Blend Body Oil
It’s hard to believe Victoria Beckham has had four kids! And according to the fashion designer and beauty mogul, this oil was her stretch marks saviour during her pregnancies. She had this to say about the Elemis Japanese Camellia Blend Body Oil on her Twitter account: “Pregnancy tip!!!! I have used this through every pregnancy, it's amazing!! X VB.” What makes its formula a winner for preventing stretch marks is the high concentration of plant collagen, which gives the oil the ability to improve skin elasticity and keep skin nourished so stretch marks and scar tissue are less likely to form. The subtle scent of camellia oil is just icing on the cake.
The review: “Product is amazing, in my last few wks of pregnancy and plan to add this bottle to my hospital bag. Have been using the whole 9 months!” klmassa, Nordstrom customer
#6 / Clarins Stretch Mark Minimiser
Centella asiatica, a natural leaf extract heroed in this cream, has been shown to help protect and revitalise collagen and elastin fibres. “Clarins Stretch Mark Minimiser is enriched with ingredients such as centella asiatica and vu sua to improve microcirculation, tone and repair. This helps to improve the appearance of skin affected by stretch marks,” explains Turner. Not just a stretch mark removal cream, its formula also works to prevent stretch marks from calling your bod home. And it’s fragrance-free, so perfect for those who want to treat their stretch marks incognito.
The review: “I used this product throughout my pregnancy, on my belly and upper thighs, and it was incredibly nourishing for my skin as it was stretched AND I got zero new stretch marks!” Ez, Adore Beauty customer
#5 / Pai Pomegranate and Pumpkin Seed Stretch Mark System
If you’re after a vegan or certified organic option, we’ve found it. Sensitive skin? This one’s also for you. Pai’s two-step system comes with a cream for daytime use and an oil for night so you’re covered against stretch marks forming for a full 24 hours. As the name suggests, you’ll find pomegranate seed oil and pumpkin seed oil in the formula. Together they help protect skin cells and minimise tearing, while reducing inflammation and maximising skin nourishment.
The review: “This product is amazing to use. Whilst I am only 4 months into my pregnancy and not quite at the stretch mark stage, it is absolutely gorgeous to use, in particular the oil - my winter dry skin laps it up, feels and smells amazing, I have to stop myself using it all over my body I love it so much!!! So worth the price!!!” Victoria, Nourished Life customer
#4 / Mio Skincare Mama Mio The Tummy Rub Butter
This is up there as the best cream to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy. The entire Mio Skincare Mama Mio range is actually all about helping mums-to-be remain stretch mark-free (Behati Prinsloo used the Tummy Oil during her pregnancy), but the Tummy Rub Butter is their best seller. Clinically proven to increase skin elasticity by 20 per cent in two weeks, its formula is packed with organic oils like argan, coconut and avocado oils that are rich in omegas 3, 6 and 9 to build skin strength and elasticity. You can also use this butter after pregnancy as vitamin E and shea butter will keep pre- and post-pregnancy skin intensely moisturised.
The review: “This stuff is amazing!! I felt like I had to write a review because I'm so thankful for mamamio! I used it on my first pregnancy and it helped me so much. I got no stretchmarks and I know it works because my sisters didn't know about this product during their pregnancies and they got pretty bad stretch marks, and obviously we have the same genes. Don't hesitate on buying it, it's so worth the money!” Lore, Mio Skincare customer
#3 / StriVectin Intensive Concentrate for Stretch Marks and Wrinkles
A product that addresses stretch marks and wrinkles at the same time sounds like a sweet deal to us. And given collagen is essential to both concerns, it makes sense that they go hand in hand. StriVectin’s cream contains a Collagex-CE Complex™ to improve skin strength, elasticity and firmness. It can also help reduce discolouration caused by the early signs of stretch marks to leave skin tone more even. The formula is free from parabens, mineral oil, alcohol and petroleoum. Worth noting however is that this product is *not* suitable for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
The review: “I purchased this yesterday after finally realizing my stretch marks weren't going to magically go away themselves. I honestly was very skeptical about buying something so expensive and it just turns out to be a waste of money. I figured I would give it a shot with all the rave reviews. I took pictures last night of my stretch marks to see if I can tell a difference in the 15 days like they say I would. I woke up this morning after one application and HOLY SMOKES there was a difference! My stretch marks are new and are still pink/purple. When I woke up the color was noticeably lighter. If I can notice a difference with just one application.... I can't wait to see the results at day 15! Ladies and gentlemen, you will not be let down with this product!” Kmartin, Ulta customer
#2 / Weleda Stretch Mark Massage Oil
We love that this stretch mark oil uses only pure natural ingredients (perfect for pregnant bellies). Together, sweet almond oil, wheatgerm oil and organic arnica extract help prevent stretch marks from forming by increasing skin elasticity and maintaining skin’s moisture levels. The scent is wonderfully relaxing, too – making it a great pre-bed treatment. Good to know: Gwyneth Paltrow swore by sweet almond oil during her two pregnancies for keeping stretch marks at bay.
The review: “This has been my number one go-to for both my pregnancies. I apply it straight after having a shower and have noticed great improvement in current stretch marks and it has definitely helped to prevent new stretch marks throughout my second pregnancy.” Patti, Nourished Life customer
The cost: $27.95
#1 / Bio-Oil
Meet Kim Kardashian’s secret weapon for avoiding stretch marks during her two pregnancies. “It [Bio-Oil] prevents wrinkles around my eyes and stretch marks over my body,” Kim told Daily Mail UK after the birth of her daughter North. More recently, she was again singing its praises on her website: "It just makes my skin glow, and it has so many benefits. If you have a scar or stretch marks, you just massage the oil onto the area two times a day.” Kate Middleton and Jourdan Dunn are also big fans. And, Bio-Oil has won 300+ skin care awards and is the number one selling scar and stretch mark product in 24 countries, including Australia. No wonder it’s been heralded as the best oil for stretch marks. In the formula you’ll find skin-loving nutrients like rosemary oil to reduce inflammation and heal micro-wounds, chamomile oil to even out skin tone and vitamins C to strengthen collagen fibres.
The review: “I use this on my stretch marks in the morning and at night. The smell is something wonderful and this makes you feel so soft especially after a shower. This is a lightweight and fast absorbing product and I will continue to use this product even when I have children!!!” Maya V, Ulta customer
If you want to know what other celebs swear by for preventing stretch marks during pregnancy, this is Rebeca Judd's favourite stretch mark treatment (hint: it's the same as Zoe Foster Blake's). Or for more drastic results, try this extreme way to remove stretch marks.
Do you have a stretch mark product you swear by? Share with us below.
Main image credit: Getty
Chelsea is BEAUTYcrew’s Contributing Editor. She has a sweet spot for anything that claims to make skin glow and won’t leave the house without a slick of mascara. Chelsea has 10 years of experience as a beauty editor and her words can be found on BEAUTYcrew, Women’s Health, Daily Addict, The Joye and Primped.