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The best stretch mark cream for pregnancy 2023

We’re all for embracing your stretch marks, but if you're looking to reduce them, soothe itchy skin or just even out your skin tone, there are plenty of creams, oils, butters and balms available to help.

By Jenny Wonnacott | Last updated Sep 7, 2023


Stretch marks can appear out of nowhere when your body is changing shape rapidly, whether that’s during pregnancy or post-birth, or at a time of rapid weight gain or loss.

While they’re partly genetic, and difficult to avoid if you’re prone to getting them, there are lots of stretch mark treatment options you can use throughout pregnancy (some as early as day one after your positive pregnancy test if you're looking for early intervention) to limit their appearance and/or help them to disappear faster - with some even claiming to prevent stretch marks altogether.

The best stretch mark cream will soothe, hydrate and promote healing for better natural skin elasticity - and many are perfectly safe to use during pregnancy. From luxurious oils to lovely-smelling belly butter, we've rounded up the best stretch mark cream, oil and lotion options according to Mumsnet, the UK's largest online network of parents. As well as cross-referencing countless consumer reviews, we also consulted consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto, founder of Self London dermatology clinic, to get the lowdown on stretch marks, why we get them and what can be done to treat them.

Here's our guide to the best stretch mark cream for pregnancy 2023.

Read next: Discover the best pregnancy pillows to soothe aches and pains during pregnancy.

The best stretch mark cream: at a glance

1. Overall best stretch mark cream for pregnancy: Bio-Oil Skincare Oil

Price on writing: £15.48 for 200ml | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Formula type: Oil | Size: 60 ml, 125 ml, 200 ml,

What we love

  • Affordable

  • Praised in reviews across the internet

  • Easy, absorbable formula

What to know

  • Oil can be messy to apply and could transfer onto bedding or clothing

What Mumsnet users say

“I’m finding Bio-Oil surprisingly good! Was sceptical but it has faded to white a lot of my marks - those from pregnancy (am 24 weeks) and from rapid weight changes before. I would recommend! And cheap too.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user DeusEx)

“Bio Oil 100%. Used it in first pregnancy and I was HUGE, not got any stretch marks. I think a lot is down to genetics but I think the bio oil helped massively. I'm 18 weeks with 2nd and just about to start using it again.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Amz6219)

Our verdict

Rating: 5/5

Think stretch mark cream and think Bio-Oil, such is the reputation of this cult classic. Loved by mums around the world, Bio-Oil is designed to target signs of skin stretch and scarring.

Bio-Oil uses Vitamin A and E to improve skin texture and elasticity by promoting collagen production. This can help the appearance of new and old scars, including stretch marks. Reviewers love how well the oil’s formula improved not just the appearance of stretch marks from pregnancy, but other marks on their skin too.

Bio-Oil is affordable, easy to get hold of - you can pick it up while you stock up on prenatal vitamins - and its application process of massaging into the skin in circular motions is no nonsense and easy to fit into your day. Overall, it’s a brilliant treatment option for the whole pregnancy journey, from the earliest appearance of your bump to the days where you're researching the best TENS machine for labour.

2. Best budget stretch mark cream: Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Lotion

Price on writing: £6 | Buy now from Boots

Key specs

Formula type: Lotion | Size: 250 ml

What we love

  • Really affordable

  • Gorgeous scent

  • Helps relieve itching

What to know

  • Formula could be too scented for sensitive skin

What Mumsnet users say

“Palmer’s Cocoa Butter. Used it for all of mine and I have no stretch marks. I used to slather it on when my tummy was itchy.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user DinosaurDiana)

“I should say I still use Palmer’s twice a day religiously because it does help with the itching and the stretching feeling!” (Reviewed by Mumsnet user mariebaby3)

“I used Palmer’s tummy butter religiously since [I was] 12 weeks pregnant and got no stretch marks on my stomach, but got them on my thighs where I didn’t put anything on.” (Rated by Mumsnet user xDragon)

Our verdict

Rating: 4/5

There’s little better than finding a bargain beauty product that does what it says on the tin. Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Lotion comes in at under £5 and mums rave about it, making it one of the best products in this guide. We think the price alone makes Palmer's Cocoa Butter one of the best skincare for pregnancy items you can buy.

This 250 ml bottle is bigger than most of its competitors and is packed full of skin-supporting superheroes. Palmer’s is loved for their cocoa butter-rich products and this tummy butter is full of their signature ingredient. They’ve also added Vitamin E to help tackle stretch marks and shea butter to leave your skin hydrated.

There’s no avoiding the cocoa rich scent of this lotion, which for most mums-to-be is a welcome addition but if you’re not that way inclined then you’re best picking a fragrance-free cream.

3. Best cream for preventing stretch marks: Mustela Maternite Stretch Marks Prevention Cream

Price on writing: £21 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Formula type: Cream | Size: 250 ml

What we love

  • Hundreds of five star reviews from mums

  • Relieves skin tightness and itchiness

What to know

  • Not available on the high street

What Mumsnet users say

“I was using [the] Mustela one with my first and didn’t get any stretch marks. Also using [it] with my current pregnancy.” (Rated by Mumsnet user fool11)

"All my friends and friends of friends that used Mustela swear by it, I used Mustela pregnancy day and night with my first born and didn't have one stretch mark. Pregnant again and using it again." (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user jamilla82)

Our verdict

Rating: 4/5

This ‘best kept secret’ cream from French brand Mustela is a bit of a gem. When a product has clocked up hundreds of five star reviews on Amazon from women all around the world, you know it’s worth taking note.

Reviews praise this cream for preventing stretch marks, smelling gorgeous and being easy to apply.

As well as hydrating the skin and helping to boost elasticity, the Mustela stretch mark prevention cream is also designed to relieve the tight feeling pregnant women get across their bellies, making it a perfect accompaniment to other useful, bump-supporting items such as a good pregnancy support belt and the best maternity jeans.

Designed to help prevent the appearance of stretch marks in pregnancy, this cream smooths on to increase skin hydration and therefore elasticity as well as help your bump feel more comfortable.

If you’re feeling turned off certain smells during pregnancy, you’ll be pleased to hear this cream is also available in a non-scented version.

4. Best stretch mark belly butter: Mama Mio Tummy Rub Butter

Price on writing: £16 for 240 ml | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Formula type: Butter | Size: 120 ml, 240 ml

What we love

  • Has performed well in clinical trials

  • Gorgeous, natural smell

What to know

  • Small pot can get used up quickly

  • Pricey

What Mumsnet users say

"I'm now 35 weeks and have been using the mama mio tummy rub butter every day since very early on. No stretch marks at all. I don't know if it's the cream or genetics but either way, it's a lovely way to pamper yourself and keep tummy moisturised so I'd say go for it. The lavender one is particularly nice." (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user ftm87)

“Mama Mio over here. I had a very large bump during first pregnancy (10lb baby!) and not one stretch mark. Now on second pregnancy and still using it. Also helps with itching as the skin stretches.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Chocness)

Our verdict

Rating: 4/5

Mama Mio Tummy Rub Butter is all about supporting skin’s hydration and elasticity to help stop stretch marks from appearing. So, this is a cream to use right from the beginning, before you even have a bump to rub it into.

This Tummy Rub Butter is Mama Mio's bestseller and review after review credits it with keeping skin soft, supple and stretch mark free in pregnancy.

This cream has a unique blend of essential oils in too: orange, bergamot, mandarin, may chang and lime. This creates a gorgeous, relaxing scent turning your daily stretch mark prevention into an indulgent moment of self-care.

Read next: Looking to read up on what to expect as your pregnancy progresses? Don't miss our guide to the best pregnancy books according to Mumsnet users.

5. Best natural stretch mark oil: The Organic Pharmacy Stretch Mark Oil

Price on writing: £24 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Formula type: Oil | Size: 100ml

What we love

  • 99.8% organic

  • Relaxing scent

What to know

  • Oil formula can be messy to use

What Mumsnet users say

“I am loving The Organic Pharmacy Stretch Mark Oil. I am 30 weeks pregnant now and enjoying applying this oil daily.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user CrankyCankles)

Our verdict

Rating: 3/5

If you’re looking for an organic product rich in powerful natural ingredients, then The Organic Pharmacy Stretch Mark Oil might be the best stretch mark cream for you.

Loved by women on our forums, this oil is packed with skin-supporting ingredients like rosehip to help your tummy stay soft and supple throughout pregnancy. The theory is that the better the condition of your skin, the less it will scar as it stretches.

As well as moisturising your skin this oil contains gorgeously scented ingredients including orange and lavender that envelope you in a wonderful aromas as you rub the oil in. Just be sure to let it dry before you get dressed to prevent it rubbing off on your best maternity clothes!

Read next: Thinking ahead? Prepare for every parenting eventuality with our pick of the best parenting books currently available.

6. Best stretch mark cream for self-care: Cowshed Mother Stretch Mark Balm

Price on writing: £19.36 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Formula type: Butter/balm | Size: 220g

What we love

  • Natural formula

  • Creates a spa feel at home

What to know

  • Balm takes a while to fully absorb

What Mumsnet users say

“Third pregnancy here, close to due date still with no stretch marks developed - I put it down to Cowshed’s Stretch Mark Balm I’ve used in all my pregnancies. The texture of it - grainy on appliance/oil moisturiser like rubbed in is really unique.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user DollyParton2)

"Cowshed mother stretch mark balm is magic, I tried so many remedies and it’s incredible." (Recommended by Mumsnet user Peaches2020)

Our verdict

Rating: 3/5

If there’s ever a time to bring a spa treatment home it’s during pregnancy. This balm by Cowshed, loved for their boutique spas, is perfect for helping you to relax as well as looking after your skin.

This blend of shea butter, coconut and essential oils means this nutrient-dense balm supports your skin on several fronts.

This balm is dense and takes a little while to fully absorb once you’ve rubbed it in. A perfect excuse to slow down and put your feet up before donning your maternity leggings or best maternity pyjamas (depending on the time you choose to apply it) if you ask us!

7. Best organic stretch mark cream: Dr Organic Vitamin E Scar and Stretch Mark Serum

Price on writing: £6 | Buy now from Amazon

Key Specs

Formula type: Serum | Size: 50 ml

What we love

  • Treats scars as well as stretch marks

  • Replenishes moisture naturally

  • Under £10

What to know

  • Smaller size than many other options so may get used up fast

What Mumsnet users say

"During my pregnancy I religiously used Dr Organic Aloe Vera gel and also Dr Organic stretch mark cream and I only came away with a couple of small ones on my hips where I didn't use the cream as much. Absolutely none on my tummy at all miraculously so I put it down to the gel." (Brand recommended by Mumsnet user ttigerlily)

Our verdict

Rating: 4/5

Organic by name, organic by nature, this Vitamin E Scar and Stretch Mark Serum from Dr Organic combines natural ingredients including Aloe Vera, shea butter and sweet almond oil to create a serum suitable for use on the whole body (even your hair!). Vegan and cruelty-free, this is a great option for those wanting to stick to natural ingredients while giving their skin a boost.

Packed with anti-oxidants and bioactive ingredients, this serum absorbs into the skin nice and quickly, though it is a little on the small side for the price tag, so you may want to use sparingly. Combine with a good hypnobirthing book to carry the soothing, natural vibes all the way through to labour.

8. Best multi-use stretch mark cream: Johnson’s Baby Oil

Price: £1.50 for 200ml | Buy now from Boots

Key specs

Formula type: oil | Size: 100 ml, 200 ml, 500 ml


  • Affordable and easy to get hold of

  • Perfect for using on baby too


  • Oily formula takes a little while to sink in

What Mumsnet users say

“I’m 39 weeks tomorrow and have used baby oil every day and do not have any (yet) TOUCH wood.” (Tip from Mumsnet user ThinkPink71)

Our verdict

Rating: 3/5

Anything that simplifies life for mums and expectant-mothers is a hero product as far as we're concerned (especially when it only costs 41p!) Johnson’s Baby Oil can not only keep your new baby’s skin soft and hydrated (making it an excellent, affordable option if you're looking for the best gifts for new mums or, for that matter, a great baby gift), it can also help prevent stretch marks.

This affordable oil, a staple in homes since 1935, is a deeply nourishing and hydrating oil. Many a mum-to-be has found that applying it every day to their taught bellies helps keep them supple and prevent stretch marks.

At under 50p a bottle you can afford to apply this oil liberally and keep your skin wonderfully soft throughout pregnancy and beyond.

9. Best stretch mark cream for versatility: Bloom and Blossom Elastic Fantastic Stretch Mark Cream

Price on writing: £26 | Buy now from Bloom & Blossom

Key specs

Formula type: Cream | Size: 150 ml

What we love

  • Claims to ward off and reduce appearance of stretch marks

  • Also smooths wrinkles and boosts skin's elasticity

What to know

  • Pricey

What Mumsnet users say

"I’ve been using bloom and blossom cream, so far so good and smells lovely." (Recommended by Mumsnet user mischiefmanaged01)

Our verdict

Rating: 3/5

Another all-natural ingredients product, this cream from Bloom and Blossom also treats wrinkles by boosting the skin's natural elasticity, winning all the points for versatility. The natural ingredients - including ylang ylang and horsetail leaf extract - mean it's a good option for sensitive skin, and reviewers report a nice smooth, non-greasy application made easy with the pump dispenser, so there's less risk of it getting all over your favourite maternity bra when applying.

Although it's a little on the pricey side for the small size of it, it's a nice, thick cream which means a little should go a long way. It smells amazing too, which is always a bonus!

10. Best stretch mark cream for sensitive skin: Burt's Bees Mama Belly Butter with Shea Butter and Vitamin E

Price on writing: £14.49 | Buy now from Boots

Key specs

Formula type: Butter | Size: 185g

What we love

  • Fragrance free

  • No phthalates, parabens, petrolatum, or SLS

What to know

  • Thick formula may be too rich for some skin types

What Mumsnet users say

"Burts Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter, I used it everyday after a shower and sometimes just to relax, no stretch marks (but that could be down to genes)! It smells and feels lovely anyway, Amazon usually have it on offer." (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Roxyxoxo)

Our verdict

Rating: 3/5

Shea Butter and Vitamin E are used in countless formulas to support and restore skin and this belly butter from Burt’s Bees is one of the best.

This moisturiser uses cocoa and jojoba alongside shea butter to create a rich formula. It’s also free from parabens and fragrance making it perfect for sensitive skin.

Reviewers love the luxurious feel of this cream and how soft and supple it left their skin feeling.

Stretch Marks: We Ask the Experts

  • We posed the following questions to consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto, founder of Self London dermatology clinic:

What are stretch marks and what causes them?

"Stretch marks (or striae) are a type of linear mark or scar which occurs due to damage to collagen and elastin in the deeper layers of the skin.  This can happen due to rapid growth or overstretching of the skin such as in adolescence or pregnancy. Other causes include weight training with quick muscle growth, overuse of prescribed medications such as steroid creams, or medical conditions such as Cushing’s syndrome.

"Stretch marks are very common and usually occur on the thighs, buttocks, abdomen and breasts. They usually start off red or purple in colour when they are new and then over time fade to leave white or silvery marks on the skin. Whilst they rarely causes medical issues, they can be of cosmetic concern to some people."

Do stretch marks go away when you lose weight?

"No, once they have developed they are unlikely to go away with weight loss due to damage to collagen and elastin in the deeper layers of the skin. They will, however, lighten with time."

Can you actually get rid of stretch marks?

"Getting rid of stretch marks altogether is extremely difficult and at best they will lighten over time and some medical treatments may result in mild to moderate improvement very much depending on the extent, severity and location. However, it is unrealistic to think the skin will go back to looking exactly the way it did prior to the stretch marks developing regardless of treatment plan."

"Some people are simply genetically more prone to developing stretch marks - nearly everyone has them!"

- Dr Anjali Mahto, Consultant Dermatologist

Does stretch mark cream really work?

"There is little good quality evidence which suggests that OTC skincare can benefit stretch marks, which can be disappointing for many to hear. Ingredients that are worth trying with limited evidence and outcome include: retinoids or vitamin A containing products (but these must not be used if trying to conceive or pregnant) as well as the plant-based ingredient Centella may help. Hyaluronic acid can also improve appearance."

What are the best clinic treatments for stretch marks?

"There are multiple clinic options which can be considered for stretch marks after appropriate consultation and examination. Setting expectations of realistic outcomes as well as recognising often multiple sessions are required to see gradual improvement is vitally important. Clinic based treatments can include microneedling, lasers, radiofrequency or microdermabrasion are more likely to be of benefit than OTC gels and creams. Treatment choice depends on extent and severity of stretch marks, body location, budget, as well as consideration of acceptable recovery time after a procedure."

Does anything actually work for pregnancy stretch marks?

"It is extremely difficult to prevent the formation of stretch marks. Keeping weight in a healthy range and exercising regularly to prevent rapid weight loss or gain can be of benefit but there is still no fail-safe guarantee. Some people are simply genetically more prone to developing these and it is also important to recognise how common they actually are - nearly everyone has them!"

Stretch marks

Who gets stretch marks?

Women tend to get them more than men, though men can get them too. They most commonly affect women in pregnancy – particularly in the second and third trimester when your bump is growing most quickly – but also affect children in puberty and anyone gaining weight quickly.

Annoyingly, they can also suddenly appear as you lose weight. Stretch marks are also genetic, so if your mum got them, chances are you will too.

Why use stretch mark creams?

The NHS says that there’s little evidence that any stretch mark creams work and that the best way to reduce your chances of getting them is to maintain a healthy body weight.

That’s sometimes easier said than done though, particularly if you’re pregnant, and it’s understandable if you want to do all you can to prevent them or get rid of them. Most of the lotions and potions on the market claim to work by hydrating the skin and keeping it supple and more elastic. To what extent you can affect what goes on in the dermis, as opposed to the top layer of your skin, is debatable, but it might be a case of every little helps.

Also, there are plenty of benefits to looking after your skin in pregnancy anyway, such as keeping your bump comfortable and reducing that itchy feeling as your skin stretches.

What can I do to avoid stretch marks?

You really can’t avoid them completely. If you’re genetically predisposed to them or you grow quickly, whether that’s putting on weight fast or carrying a baby that grows at a rate of knots, they’re just going to happen. The most important thing is to stick to a healthy diet and try to gain and lose weight at a steady pace as much as possible.

How long do stretch marks take to fade?

How long is a piece of (red and angry-looking) string? Most women say their stretch marks faded within six months to a year of giving birth, but it can take longer. For some women, they may never fully fade.

What is the best cream to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy?

There’s definitely more you can do to treat the appearance of stretch marks than there is to prevent or remove them. Creams such as Bio-Oil and Mustela come highly recommended for treating and/or preventing stretch marks - but really it's down to genetics whether you get them or not. And, according to the NHS, only solutions like laser treatments, retinoid and microdermabrasion will completely eradicate stretch marks and, even then, new ones can appear in the same places.

If you’re thinking of going down this route, always talk to your GP first and remember many of those types of treatment won’t be safe in pregnancy.

What natural remedies are there for stretch marks?

While there’s little evidence to back any definite theory here, anecdotally some natural products have been shown to help prevent or fade stretch marks. These include aloe vera, rosehip oil, argan oil, cocoa and shea butter, and coconut oil. The theory behind all these tends to be that they add elasticity to the skin to help prevent the dermis tearing as the skin grows. The key with them all is regular application – twice daily if you can – and giving your skin a good massage at the same time.

What is the most effective cream for stretch marks?

Stretch mark cream is quite a personal purchase - we think as a starting point, and certainly in terms of budget buys, you can't go far wrong with Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Lotion at under £5 a bottle, but the scent may not appeal to all. In terms of stretch mark prevention, Mustela Maternite comes highly recommended by Mumsnet users and comes in an unscented option if you don't like strong smelling lotions. If you're after a belly butter, we like the Mama Mio Tummy Rub.

Which oil is best for stretch marks?

There are lots of oils available that claim to help with stretch marks. Choose one that you like the scent of (or is unscented) and look for ingredients such as olive oil and argan oil that make the skin supple and stretchier. We think Bio-Oil is a good choice and lots of pharmacists and midwives recommend it over any other oil.

When should I start using stretch mark cream during pregnancy?

You can start using stretch mark cream as early as the first few weeks of pregnancy to help prepare and moisturise your skin before it starts stretching. No cream can guarantee you won't get stretch marks, but moisturising and caring for your skin during pregnancy can certainly help ease any discomfort from itching or dryness.

How we chose our recommendations

It’s very difficult to test the efficacy of stretch mark treatments in any scientific way simply because there’s little evidence to say whether they do or don’t prevent them. Even in a testing situation, the fact that someone doesn’t get stretch marks could simply mean they were never likely to get them in the first place rather than that a cream has prevented them.

So we based our recommendations largely on empirical evidence from Mumsnetters about what had worked for them in pregnancy. When looking at treatments to fade rather than prevent stretch marks, it was easier to measure success and identify products that worked.

We trawled the Mumsnet forums for conversations about creams and oils that worked for mums and made careful notes about which had the best hit rate. We then looked at reviews across the media, both in the parenting and beauty sectors, to find out which products were rated most highly by reviewers and which scored best in their testing.

We then collated this list of products with our own to come up with the best stretch mark creams and oils that we think offer something for every taste and budget

About the author

Mum-of-three Jenny Wonnacott is a Content Editor for Mumsnet, specialising in writing, editing and optimising pregnancy care and child play content.

Before joining the content team at Mumsnet, Jenny worked as a journalist for newspapers, radio, TV and b2b trades magazines for over a decade. She is also a bestselling sci-fi author (writing as J M Briscoe) and parenting blogger.

As a parent of three primary school-aged children, Jenny is passionate about making Mumsetters' lives easier through rigorous research of all items recommended in buyers' guides such as these, as well as product reviews and expert advice on all things pregnancy and child play related.

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