When it comes to pregnancy, stretch marks can come with the territory. While they are certainly well earned and shouldn’t be anything to be ashamed of, most women I know would rather avoid them, if at all possible. (Myself included.)
Stretch marks may be inevitable if they run in your genetics, but I do think they can be helped with diet and some special skin care. As it happens, stretch marks do run in my genetics– my mom got them during her pregnancies and I developed plenty of them around my hips in my early teens while I was going through puberty. Naturally, I expected to get more of them during my first pregnancy, but to my happy surprise, I didn’t.
I think my skin care routine might have had a lot to do with it, because goodness knows my diet wasn’t perfect. While pregnant with my son, I craved junk food for nearly the whole 9 months… and though I tried to eat plenty of salads and smoothies, I certainly gave into my cravings pretty often, too. Luckily, my cravings haven’t been quite as crazy with this pregnancy, but I’ll still be using a nourishing skin cream as a preventative measure.
What stretch mark cream should you use? I think the following ingredients are key:
- Vitamin E oil: Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that can help protect the collagen fibers in your skin. It promotes skin elasticity, which is important when your skin is rapidly stretching and growing.
- Coconut Oil: Coconut oil naturally contains some vitamin E, which enhances its skin-nourishing properties, and it also contains proteins that can contribute to cellular health and tissue repair.
- Shea Butter: Shea butter is ultra-moisturizing thanks to its vitamin content, along with oleic, stearic, palmitic and linolenic acids which help prevent drying. It’s great for smoothing and softening the skin, and also promotes collagen production.
I personally prefer to make my own cream, so I know exactly what I’m putting in my body. As you know, everything we put on our skin gets directly absorbed into the body– hence why nicotine and birth control patches are so effective– so I prefer making my own lotions with 100% nourishing ingredients.
For best results when using this cream, or any cream for that matter, it’s important that your skin is already moist– ideally, you’ll rub it on while your skin is still wet from taking a shower, before even toweling off. Creams like this “lock in” moisture, so it’s important that there is moisture there to begin with! You’ll notice that some moisturizing creams have water as the first ingredient (which I’ve always felt is a little bit of a rip-off), but as soon as you add water to a homemade lotion it will require an added preservative– which is an extra step and ingredient I’d prefer to avoid. Instead, just rub this thick, emollient cream into wet skin and gently pat dry to remove any remaining moisture.
DIY Stretch Mark Prevention Cream
Makes about 8 ounces
In a double boiler, melt together the shea butter and coconut oil until completely liquified.
Remove the bowl from the heat and let it cool for 10 minutes, then add in the vitamin E oil. Pour the mixture into a glass storage jar and store it in the fridge to cool completely. The resulting mixture should be thick and creamy, but its texture will vary depending on the temperature of the room its stored in. (It will be firm in a cold room, and softer in a warm room.) For best use, apply to wet skin immediately after getting out of the shower, then gently pat yourself dry.
- ½ cup (4 ounces) unrefined shea butter
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin coconut oil
- 4 droppers full of vitamin E oil (about 4 teaspoons)
- In a double boiler, melt together the shea butter and coconut oil until completely liquified.
- Remove the bowl from the heat and let it cool for 10 minutes, then add in the vitamin E oil. Pour the mixture into a glass jar and store in the fridge to cool completely. The resulting mixture should be thick and creamy, but its texture will vary depending on the temperature of the room its stored in. (It will be firm in a cold room, and softer in a warm room.) For best use, apply to wet skin immediately after getting out of the shower, then gently pat yourself dry.
This lotion should keep well for up to 6 months, if you don’t use it all before then. Be sure to keep it free of excess moisture for best shelf life.
Note: This cream has no added scents because several essential oils are not considered “pregnancy safe.” If you would like to add an essential oil to this lotion to create a more pleasant scent, be sure to research which oils are safe to use during pregnancy.
Reader Feedback: Have you used a homemade stretch mark cream before? Many of my friends have simply used coconut oil with great results, but I think this version is even better. My skin has never felt so soft!