Updated March 2022
Header Image
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom Line

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

Category cover

Buying guide for Best stretch mark creams

Stretch marks, or narrow stripes or streaks that develop on the skin, are often induced by pregnancy, puberty, a rapid growth spurt, or weight gain. They can occur anywhere on the body where the skin is forced to expand rapidly.

In pregnant women, stretch marks appear mainly on the stomach. However, stretch marks are also common on the back, thighs, calves, upper arms, hips, breasts, and lower back. Medically known as striae, stretch marks happen when the skin is stretched or torn by rapid growth. The skin’s delicate elastic fiber network becomes disrupted when stretched. The network is then unable to repair itself, leading to stretch marks.

Pregnant women can reduce their chances of developing stretch marks by using a stretch mark cream during pregnancy. Stretch mark creams hydrate and soothe dry, irritated, and stretched skin. 

Content Image
Stretch marks are bands, stripes, or lines caused by rapid stretching of the skin’s connective tissue. When the dermis or middle layer of the skin stretches too fast, collagen fibers break down, which leads to scarring.

What causes stretch marks?

Genes influence the development of stretch marks. Women with pale, freckled, sensitive, or easily sunburned skin tend to develop more stretch marks than women with darker skin tones. However, 60% to 90% of women worldwide will develop stretch marks at some point in their lives.

Though most common during pregnancy, stretch marks can also appear on skin that is too thin or has been damaged by the prolonged use of topical steroid creams, such as those used to treat a persistent skin rash. And stretch marks aren’t a problem that’s unique to women. Men get stretch marks, too. Stretch marks in men typically occur with rapid weight gain. Male bodybuilders attempting to rapidly pack on the pounds tend to develop stretch marks.

Before stretch marks become visible, the skin may feel dry, taut, irritated, or itchy. Stretch marks first appear as raised wrinkly welts or streaks that can be pink, red, purple, reddish brown, or dark brown, depending on a person’s skin color. The welts flatten and fade, often losing pigment over time. Although the line-like lesions are less noticeable with time, it may take years before the redness fades.

Stretch mark creams help diminish visible scarring. Eliminating scarring entirely is not likely as stretch mark lesions rarely fade to the point of becoming invisible. However, over-the-counter stretch mark creams can help reduce redness, which minimizes the appearance of stretch marks.

Key considerations

There are many stretch mark creams available that are ideal for use on stretch marks that result from growth spurts or rapid weight gain and that are also safe to use after pregnancy to help fade stretch mark scarring. However, many of these products are not appropriate for use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding as the ingredients may harm the baby.

Ingredients potentially harmful to your unborn baby include:

  • Essential oils

  • Aluminum chloride

  • Parabens

  • Benzoyl peroxide

  • Salicylic acid

  • Hydroquinone

  • Retinol

When looking for a stretch mark cream, choose wisely. If you are pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider before adding a stretch mark cream to your health and wellness regimen. Keep your skin healthy and hydrated from early pregnancy to post-childbirth with stretch mark creams formulated with ingredients that your doctor confirms are safe for you and your child.

Expert Tip



Stretch mark remedies are available as oils, creams, lotions, or body butters. The consistency varies by formula. Oils and lotions offer the thinnest formula, creams fall in the middle in terms of consistency, and body butters are the thickest.


Many stretch mark creams come in large, 32-ounce jars, which tend to offer the best price per ounce. You also won’t have to order as often when you get an economy-size jar. For travel, look for stretch mark lubricating oils in convenient two-ounce travel sizes.


The majority of stretch mark creams have a mild floral fragrance. If you are pregnant and certain odors make you nauseous, look for fragrance-free formulas.

Stretch mark cream prices

There are stretch mark creams designed for use with rapid weight gain and those specifically formulated for use during pregnancy. There are creams available for every budget.

Inexpensive stretch mark creams sell for $8 to $15.

For a mid-range option, expect to pay $20 to $35.

The highest-end stretch mark creams cost $50 and up and often include active ingredients like retinol.


  • Medical studies have shown that the only creams that have a significant effect on stretch marks are those containing Retin-A, which decreases redness and can stop or even reverse some signs of stretch mark scarring by causing collagen to rebuild. OTC stretch mark creams containing less powerful, non-prescription retinol can also potentially help prevent or reverse scarring. However, if you are pregnant, do not use any product with retinol as it is unsafe for the fetus.

  • You can reduce the appearance of stretch marks through regular exfoliation. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells, allowing the stretch mark cream to penetrate more deeply and for benefits to appear sooner.

  • Stretch mark creams with collagen-boosting ingredients, such as peptides and vitamins A and E, can help restore elasticity to damaged skin, reduce redness, and diminish the appearance of stretch marks.

  • Women who become pregnant at a young age tend to get more stretch marks than those who conceive at a later age. Also, women who gain an excessive amount of weight during pregnancy tend to get more stretch marks.

  • Stretch mark creams are not just for rubbing on your tummy. Apply the cream to elbows, arms, legs, and dry heels to moisten and lubricate dry, irritated skin.

Content Image
During pregnancy, as the baby grows and your belly expands, keeping your skin moisturized with a stretch mark cream improves skin elasticity and may help prevent stretch marks.


Q. How long after pregnancy does it take for stretch marks to fade?

A. Although stretch marks will fade with time, they never go away completely. Keeping skin hydrated with a moisturizing stretch mark cream can reduce irritation and help keep scars supple and less noticeable. As with other types of scarring, topical treatments can reduce redness and diminish visibility, but only surgical procedures can potentially eliminate stretch mark scarring.

Q. Will stretch marks appear if I lose weight?

A. Stretching of the skin is what causes stretch marks, and lesions can appear with rapid weight gain and then become more visible after weight loss. During puberty, teenagers may also notice stretch marks after a significant growth spurt. Corticosteroid pills, lotions, and creams reduce the skin’s ability to stretch. These medications can cause stretch marks as the skin loses its elasticity.

Our Top Picks