Belly Butters 101: Products and Ingredients That Really Work
Stretch marks are totally normal. In fact, between 50-90% of women experience stretch marks during pregnancy. That said, if you're worried about them, or you want them to be less visible on your body, there are certain products and ingredients that will help.
The Skinny on Stretch Marks
Stretch marks, or striae, are indented streaks that appear on the body – often during the last trimester of pregnancy. These scars are caused by the stretching of the skin, and there are a variety of factors that can make them worse, including:
- Genetics or family history of stretch marks
- Growth in adolescence
- Rapidly gaining or losing weight
- Corticosteroids (cortisol can weaken elastin in the skin)
- Breast enhancement surgery
- Pregnancy hormones, which can also weaken skin fibers
They're not harmful – and they’re a perfectly natural part of the pregnancy process for many mama bears – but they can be a total buzzkill for any confident new mama, as well as a serious cover-up concern.
They can also change in appearance over time. When stretch marks first appear, they’re often dark purple, red, or brown in appearance. Over time, they often flatten and turn white or silver in appearance.
There are many things you can do to help.
Things You Can Do to Prevent Stretch Marks
Many things can reduce the risk of developing stretch marks. During pregnancy, you can:
- Aim for slow, gradual weight gain
- Drink enough water - about 6-8 glasses per day
- Eat a diet high in vitamins and minerals. Vitamin A and vitamin C, in particular, can help strengthen the skin, while minerals like zinc and silicon can increase skin healing and promote strength.
The right belly butters can also help.
How Belly Butters Can Help
So here’s the thing: no belly butter can 100% prevent stretch marks. But, particularly when applied early and often (we’re talking three times a day during and after pregnancy), butters with the right ingredients can help keep the skin as hydrated and elastic as possible. When combined with a healthy diet and gradual weight gain, this can minimize the appearance of stretch marks over time.
Look, specifically, for belly butters with ingredients like:
- Shea butter, a plant fat that’s rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and fatty acids (including vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin A) that can help stimulate collagen and hydrate the skin.
- Jojoba oil, a biomimetic oil (close in composition to our own oil) that can deeply moisturize the skin and provide antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.
- MCT coconut oil, which can effectively moisturize the skin, improve skin barrier function, increase collagen turnover, and help with wound healing
- Kokum butter, a light but powerful emollient that can soothe inflammation and thoroughly moisturize the skin without clogging pores.
- Moringa oil, a nutrient-dense and antioxidant-rich oil that can soothe, heal, and moisturize skin.
- Rosehip seed oil, which also has a super-high concentration of vitamin A, vitamin C, and fatty acids.
With these ingredients, belly butters will help minimize the appearance of stretch marks, deeply hydrate the skin, and add weightless, balanced moisture to the skin.