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How to Prevent Stretch Marks During Pregnancy

I am a mother of, eek!, a toddler. I have worked as an au pair in Italy, where I developed an addiction to traveling and espresso.

Stop stretch marks before they start.

Stop stretch marks before they start.

I was one of the lucky ones. I did not get one stretch mark on my stomach anytime during or after my pregnancy. Do I think that I have naturally resilient skin? No way! My skin is super sensitive. I did get stretch marks on my sides and breasts. But why not my stomach? The answer is simple: prevention. Sounds easy enough, but it takes discipline and consistency.

Studies have shown that if you have old stretch marks, there is very little you can do to make them go away. So your best bet is to do what you can to prevent them from forming to begin with.

The Basics of Stretch Mark Prevention

  1. Start early. Start preparing your skin the day you find out that you're pregnant.
  2. Establish a routine. Follow your stretch mark prevention routine at least twice daily.
  3. Use a bristle brush to gently exfoliate and stimulate blood flow with dry brushing every day.
  4. Maintain elasticity by moisturizing at least twice a day.

You Need to Start Early to Prevent Stretch Marks

The most overlooked aspect of preventing stretch marks is starting to prepare your skin for the stretch of pregnancy before you think you need to. The day you find out that you're pregnant, go home and rub some almond oil on your belly! This begins building up the strength and elasticity of your skin, which will be key in the last trimester when your stomach grows the most.

The best way to avoid stretch marks is to start exfoliating and using cream before you think you need to.

The best way to avoid stretch marks is to start exfoliating and using cream before you think you need to.

My Stretch Mark Prevention Routine

I recommend using a body brush along with creams and oils to prevent stretch marks. This can help strengthen the elasticity of your skin, which is extremely important if you want to avoid stretch marks. Elasticity is what allows your skin to stretch without tearing the dermis, which is what creates stretch marks.

Customize your routine so it works for you and your schedule. Again, the most important part is to stay consistent. Here is what I recommend:

  • Daily exfoliating with a brush is extremely important. I wouldn't recommend exfoliating more than once a day, because your skin needs time to recover. I like to use a stiff, natural-bristled body brush for this (see instructions below). It's easy, and you can do it while you're waiting for your shower water to warm up.
  • Apply stretch mark cream or oil at least twice daily. Pick times that can easily be incorporated into your daily beauty routine, like after you shower in the morning and before you go to bed at night. If you can fit in an additional time or two to apply your moisturizer during the day, even better.

The most important thing you can do to prevent stretch marks is to be consistent! Follow your stretch mark prevention routine at least twice daily.

Stimulate Blood Flow With a Dry Brush

A body brush has bristles that you use to brush your skin. It almost looks like a horse brush. It is used to exfoliate, deep clean, and stimulate the skin. Brushing will not only give you more resilient skin, but it also massages the skin and increases blood circulation.

How to Use a Dry Brush to Prevent Stretch Marks

  1. I like to start at the bottom and work my way up.
  2. Using short, gentle strokes, brush in an upward motion toward the heart.
  3. Start with the back of the thighs and work your way up and around.
  4. Don't forget your sides and breasts.

When you look for a body brush, look for one with stiff, natural bristles. When you first start using it, it may feel scratchy and uncomfortable because your skin isn't used to it yet. Just brush gently and be consistent. You'll get used to it after a couple of days.

Note: Don't brush so hard that you scratch yourself! Your skin should look a little rosy after a brushing session. That means you've increased the blood and circulation at the surface of the skin, which is exactly what you want.

Stretch Mark Creams and Oils

Another important aspect of preventing stretch marks is to use high-quality creams or oils. These don't have to be expensive or fancy or special. I used plain almond oil. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I mixed vitamin E with mineral oil and used that. For me, that was enough.

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There are a number of stretch mark creams out there to choose from. If you choose to buy a cream, I recommend choosing one with high customer reviews. For the most part, I trust the reviews on Amazon more than testimonials on a cream's website.

But, really, you don't need to buy a fancy cream. As I said, I simply used almond oil, which was recommended to me by a doctor in Mexico, and I am very happy with the results. It's also a lot cheaper than you might pay for a fancy stretch mark removal/prevention cream. However, there are some people who swear that those creams work wonders. You can test out a stretch mark cream versus almond oil and then stick with whichever you like best.

For whatever oil or cream you choose, remember:

  • Use the product early, long before you see any stretch marks.
  • Massage in the product slowly and gently, ensuring maximum effect.
  • Re-apply the product at least twice a day.
  • Make sure to apply your stretch mark cream liberally.

When using almond oil, remember that a little bit goes a long way. Massage into the skin for a few minutes until absorbed. It will take a little bit longer to rub almond oil into your skin than it would a cream or lotion. But for no stretch marks? It's definitely worth the extra effort.

Take Care of More Than Just Your Stomach

I made the mistake of focusing purely on my stomach, and I got a number of large stretch marks along my sides and on my breasts. Be sure to exfoliate and moisturize your hips, thighs, butt, and breasts, as well as your stomach.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are stretch marks permanent?

Yes: like any scar, stretch marks are permanent. However, treatment might fade or reduce them a bit.

Do genetics affect stretch marks?

Yes, genetics play a vital role in determining whether or not you will develop stretch marks. 23andMe has used its vast data to identify 544 genetic variants associated with stretch marks.

Can vitamins help with stretch marks?

Yes: Vitamin C and E may help. Vitamin C, which supports collagen production, can be taken orally; vitamin E works as an antioxidant and should be applied topically (try mixing some into the cream or oil you use as instructed above).

Can anything really prevent stretch marks?

Maybe. Few studies investigate the efficacy of topicals. Overall, there is a distinct lack of evidence for any topical cream or lotion and no evidence that any topical formulation can eradicate or improve stretch marks.

Although researchers have not found any surefire remedies, products containing centella (an herb) or hyaluronic acid may help.

Pamper yourself and your skin like Cleopatra in a rich, luxurious bath of milk and honey.

Pamper yourself and your skin like Cleopatra in a rich, luxurious bath of milk and honey.

Relax in a Bath of Milk and Honey

Relaxing in a warm bath while you're pregnant is wonderfully soothing, which is very healthy for you and your baby. A bath with milk and honey will make your skin glow.

Honey is calming, naturally anti-microbial, and full of antioxidants. It is great for clearing your skin of impurities as well as moisturizing and healing your skin. Milk has cleansing qualities as well.

So the next time you fill up the tub, add 2 cups of whole milk and 1/2 cup honey. Relax and enjoy!

I hope you found some information here useful. Please leave any questions you may have in the comments below. Good luck on your journey!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Dorothy G Langley on November 27, 2019:

I gained 60 pounds when pregnant with my son. I had stretch marks everywhere- stomach, hips, thighs, behinds knees. I used Stretch Mark Removal Serum Of Dermalmd for just a week and notice a difference. Now a month later, most of my stretch marks went from deep purple to light pink and have tightened up my skin. I will continue to use it to help lighten up even more!

Tinggi Artis Malaysia on September 09, 2014:

Awesome tips...

MissK on May 14, 2012:

ReeseT, i have read that same review of you on amazon for a different product.

People like you give other women wrong hopes and this is not OK.

Jenna did a great job on giving tipps with natural remedies, your fake review should not be on this page!!!!!

ReeseT on April 17, 2012:

I started rubbing the Dr Max Powers Stretch Mark Treatment on my belly towards the end of my first trimester to help relieve some itching due to my skin beginning to stretch. I didn't expect it to ward off any stretch marks since I am very prone to them, I am covered in stretch mark scars from when I went through puberty, and everything I read says there is nothing you can do to prevent stretch marks if it's in your genes to get them.

Well, that is total BS because I have no stretch marks on my belly at all (I'm currently 33 weeks pregnant), but I have some on my hips and on my boobs which are only a little engorged. I can still fit into my prepregnancy bras although they are a little snug, so obviously the skin on my belly has stretched way more than my boobs and the only difference is the Dr Max Stretch Mark Treatment.

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