Hey, listen: Having stretch marks is completely normal and nothing to hate on or dislike (I’ve got quite a few of my own, chillin’ with my cellulite and butt acne). As a refresher, stretch marks are caused when your skin stretches suddenly, causing a type of scar. Though they often appear after weight fluctuations, puberty, and pregnancy, their frequency is actually determined by your genetics, which means they’re not really in your control. Still, if you’re not a fan of yours and looking to get rid of stretch marks with a few of the supposed “best” stretch mark creams on the market, you’re in the right place.
Because here’s the truth: There’s no such thing as a stretch mark-removing cream. The only way to truly get rid of stretch marks is with a mix of in-office procedures, like laser treatments, microneedling, or microdermabrasion. That being said, stretch mark creams can keep your skin moisturized, soothed, and more elastic—three things you’ll need for helping stretch marks heal. So to help break down the right formulas, I chatted with dermatologists Loretta Ciraldo, MD; Hadley King, MD; Morgan Rabach, MD; and Shereene Idriss, MD; about the best stretch mark creams, below. But first:
What are stretch marks?
A stretch mark occurs when the collagen and elastin in your dermis (aka the layer of skin just under the surface) tears from stretching and creates a type of scar. At first, stretch marks may appear bright red or purple and have a slightly raised, bumpy feel to them, but in three to six months, they’ll start to blend into your skin tone (or turn white and silvery, regardless of skin tone) and settle into a slightly sunken texture when examined closely.
What causes stretch marks?
Stretch marks are caused any time your skin stretches too quickly: rapid weight loss/gain, pregnancy, growth spurts in puberty, and intense weight-training regimens. But certain medications, like topical or oral steroids, can also increase your chance of developing stretch marks, because they can temporarily thin the skin and make it more prone to tearing. But your stretch marks can also just be a matter of genetics; if everyone in your family got stretch marks during pregnancy or puberty, you might too.
While no stretch mark cream can really get rid of stretch marks, the right formulas can definitely help soothe and even fade the ones you already have. So keep scrolling for the best stretch mark creams, along with how to prevent stretch marks, how to permanently remove them, and more.
Main ingredients: Shea butter, Haitian castor seed oil (moisturizing); aloe vera (soothing)
Fragrance free? Yes
Safe for pregnancy? Yes
This cream isn’t specifically targeted to treat stretch marks, but it is ultra-moisturizing and soothing, which you’ll want if you’re trying to avoid stretch marks before they happen. The hero ingredient in this cream is Haitian castor seed oil, which you’ll often find in stretch mark oils because of its high vitamin E content. As a refresher, Vitamin E is known for its moisturizing and soothing properties—two things you def want when dealing with stretch marks.
THE REVIEWS: “I enjoy how the cream absorbs and doesn't leave me feeling greasy,” writes one reviewer. “It has an all-day lasting clean and light scent. I've been using the cream for the last year.”