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Oh, stretch marks… I got stretch marks with my first pregnancy and have since gotten rid of them, even through five more pregnancies. Better yet, I haven’t gotten any new ones! I think it’s largely due to a healthy diet and lifestyle, but today I’m also sharing my stretch mark salve moisturizer I make.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade a second of motherhood for better abs, but just because I earned my mama stripes doesn’t mean I want to keep them!
Aside from pregnancy, this salve is great for nourishing skin during weight gain or weight loss for any reason.
Stretch Mark Salve: Why Do We Need It?
While it’s often blamed on genetics (and there’s some truth to this), other things contribute to stretch marks. When skin grows and stretches rapidly, like during puberty, severe weight gain, or pregnancy, stretch marks are often the result.
Can You Actually Remove Stretch Marks?
While there isn’t a DIY stretch mark cream that will magically erase them, it can help fade stretch marks. Over the years I’ve found several key things that worked for me to fade my “tiger stripes”.
- Consume lots of grass-fed collagen and gelatin to help skin repair, rebuild, and maintain elasticity. Homemade bone broth, gelatin and collagen powder are all good sources
- I’ve noticed a big difference in skin firmness since using red light therapy! Even my C-section scar is fading the more I use it.
- Get your daily dose, of vitamins that is. Healthy fats for fat-soluble vitamins, along with vitamin C and sun exposure for vitamin D help skin repair from stretch marks. Read more about my approach to a skin-healthy diet for pregnancy here.
Ingredients for the Best Stretch Mark Cream
There are a few key ingredients that have a proven track record when it comes to fading scars and stretch marks. A good stretch mark salve also helps keep skin supple as it stretches during pregnancy to accommodate baby. Here’s a breakdown of why I chose each ingredient and what it does to help reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
Oh let me count the ways… Coconut oil gets a lot of use around our house, from toothpaste to hair treatments, to skincare. It’s also helpful in this stretch mark removal cream. Coconut oil can also help prevent stretch marks by helping skin grow without tearing.
Don’t have any virgin coconut oil on hand? You can substitute equal parts shea butter and liquid carrier oil (like sweet almond or olive oil).
Apricot Kernel Oil
This isn’t an oil I use as often as coconut oil, but I really like it in this DIY stretch mark salve recipe. Apricot kernel oil is high in the antioxidant vitamin E and supports the skin’s protective barrier. It’s really high in linoleic acid to nourish skin and is a light, faster absorbing oil.
If you don’t have any apricot kernel oil on hand, then sweet almond oil or grapeseed can also be used.
Shea and Cocoa Butter
Long term use of shea butter helps soften and strengthen skin. It’s been used for many years medicinally, including in wound care. My favorite part about shea is how it provides skin with what it needs to produce collagen for supple, strong skin.
Cocoa butter is harder than shea butter but has a lot of the same benefits. This butter helps prevent moisture loss from skin and is traditionally used to both prevent and get rid of stretch marks. It’s very moisturizing and nourishing for dry skin.
Both shea butter and cocoa butter have unique properties and can’t totally replace each other. That said if you only have one or the other you can still make this recipe. If replacing the cocoa butter with shea butter though use a little less since it’s harder.
If you’re using just shea butter, then a little beeswax will help firm up the homemade stretch mark cream.
Rosehip Seed Oil
While some may say it’s better than botox for wrinkles, rosehip seed oil is also great for stretch marks. Rosehip seed oil is really high in vitamin A, C, and E to promote healthy collagen and skin cell formation. Because it’s slightly drying, it helps balance out the heavier feel of the butters and coconut oil in this stretch mark salve.
Calendula and Ginger
Yes, it’s totally possible to just use oil and butters, but why not infuse them with the benefits of herbs? Calendula is great for all things skin-related and helps stimulate collagen production.
Ginger is known to increase circulation and decrease inflammation to help improve skin tone. It also helps prevent collagen breakdown to keep skin firm. A 2013 article in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Industry reports that ginger helps with skin repair.
Essential Oils for Stretch Marks
Essential oils during pregnancy are controversial, to put it nicely. Thankfully we do have some safe options when it comes to skincare. According to experts, essential oils should be limited during the first trimester and certain ones should be avoided altogether.
We can use up to a 4% dilution for smaller areas of the body during pregnancy. For balance, this stretch mark salve uses a 2% dilution, though you could go a little stronger if preferred. The following essential oils can safely be used in the second and third trimesters to help reduce and fade stretch marks:
- Lavender essential oil
- Cedarwood essential oil
- Frankincense essential oil
- Patchouli essential oil
- Helichrysum essential oil
Homemade Stretch Mark Cream
This salve is designed to keep skin supple to accommodate a growing belly and soothe any pregnancy-related skin irritation. It’s super simple to make so I can even manage to remember the recipe when I have placenta brain. It can be whipped to make a lotion consistency that’s basically a body butter.
Homemade Stretch Mark Salve Recipe
- Add the coconut oil, calendula, and ginger to the top of a double boiler. Heat water underneath to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the herbs. Skip this step if you aren’t using the herbs.
- Add the cocoa butter and shea butter to the top of the double boiler. Heat just until melted, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and add the rest of the ingredients.
- Pour into a metal tin or glass jar and put in the fridge to cool. This fast cool time helps prevent the shea butter from going grainy and beading up.
Shelf life and storage: This should be stored in a cool, dark place away from direct heat and light. The salve should last about a year if stored properly, if not longer.
Ever tried a salve for stretch marks? What have you done that’s helped get rid of them? Share below!