Some women call stretch marks “badges of honor.” But when I first noticed bright reddish purple streaks on my hips towards the end of my first pregnancy, I can’t say I felt particularly honored. A healthy baby is enough commemoration for me, thank you very much!
Time helped fade my once-bright marks to thin, silvery grooves, but I still wanted a little help airbrushing their existence—and preventing more of them from cropping up when I was pregnant again (and again) with my first badge of honor’s younger siblings.
After much trial and error, here’s what worked for me:
Cocoa butter is the go-to ingredient for fighting stretch marks, and Palmer’s is the brand that most moms-to-be depend on to protect their skin against the ravages of rapid weight gain and all that other fun stuff that comes with pregnancy. Palmer’s Tummy Butter rocks—it’s got to be that combo of vitamin E, collagen, elastin and lavender.
It’s got a balmy consistency, though, and if you’d rather go for a silky lotion, you can’t go wrong with Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Cream for Stretch Marks. (Because you’re already massaging that baby belly all the time—admit it!)
Cocoa butter is awesome…unless the smell of it makes you feel queasy. Which—to be totally honest—is why I avoided it the first time I was pregnant. I wish I’d known then about Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Stretch Oil, which snuffs out stretch marks with grape seed oil instead of cocoa butter!
The above products did work for me the second and third time around when it came to preventing new stretch marks from appearing…but let’s be honest. They might not work for you. It’s very possible that you could bathe in cocoa butter, coat your clothes in grape seed oil, even spend every second of all nine months massaging your body in stretch mark prevention creams—and end up with even worse marks than what I had.
That’s because whether you get stretch marks has to do with heredity (did your mom get them?), weight gain (packing on more than the recommended 25-35 lbs.) and a variety of other factors that no lotion can take on.
The good news is: if you do end up all streaked and stripy like me, there are scar repair formulas that will dramatically reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Like Mederma. (Oh, how I love Mederma—which is also great for my c-section scar!)
If you really want to go hard-core on your stretch marks, try a product that people who are dealing with a lot more than stretch marks (like burns and surgical scars) turn to: Heritage Scarmassage. It’s a roll-on that stimulates the skin, and it has camphor in it for extra strength.
I mean, if you really don’t think those marks are “badges of honor”…why kid around?
Jorie Mark is the Creative Director of Vitacost.com and mother to three children, ages 2 to 9.