Can body oil help with stretch marks?
There are a multitude of physical changes happening during pregnancy, and while the most significant transformations are happening on the inside, you’ll have to deal with external changes as well.
Most notably, pregnancy stretch marks are a change that most women end up confronting at one time or another. While stretch marks are common in women during pregnancy and completely normal and benign, most of us would rather avoid them if possible.
If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant and you would like to know how to prevent or treat stretch marks as you grow, read on. Below, we’ll outline some key prevention tips for pregnancy stretch marks and explain how body oil may be able to help too.
What are stretch marks?
Stretch marks are lines and streaks that appear on the skin due to body growth. They appear most often where the skin is being especially stretched. This may be due to puberty related growth, pregnancy, or general weight gain.
Most of the time, stretch marks appear red, pink, brown, or purple when they first develop. Over time, these pigments will usually fade, and long-term, stretch marks will end up having a white, neutral, or silver-like appearance. The skin on stretch marks streaks may be slightly depressed as well.
How do they appear?
Stretch marks appear slowly over time as the skin is being stretched. Quite often, you may wake up one day to find a few new stretch marks, but in reality, it takes time for them to develop.
Stretch marks can appear in both men and women, but they tend to be more prevalent in women, who have curvier bodies overall and are built to retain more fat. They can appear anywhere on the body, but they are most common on the breasts, hips, lower back, thighs, and stomach.
Pregnancy stretch marks are quite common, but not all women will get them, and some will get quite a few. If pregnancy stretch marks do appear, they generally show up in the third trimester on the lower abdomen. They can also appear on the hips, lower back, and breasts due to hormonal growth during pregnancy.
Can stretch marks be prevented?
Many women are curious what to use for stretch marks — can they be avoided altogether if preventive measures are taken during early pregnancy?
In fact, this is quite a hotly debated issue. Some experts say that there's no way to prevent stretch marks at all, while others claim that they can be easily prevented with just a few daily habits such as applying lotion or oil.
Finally, most people rest somewhere in between. Perhaps you can't prevent all stretch marks from appearing, but you can certainly prevent some and treat others so that they are less noticeable when they do appear.
Will body oils work?
Preventing stretch marks from forming during pregnancy is possible with body oils. Essentially, you are replenishing your skin’s natural lipids when you apply body oil, and in turn, this can prevent the skin from drying out too much and “tearing” into streaks that become stretch marks. Essential oils can also tighten loose skin this way.
Likewise, if you want to get rid of stretch marks that have already formed, body oils can certainly help reduce and soften their appearance. In fact, skincare specialists recommend using body oils for stretch marks before, during, and after pregnancy. This means that if you are planning to become pregnant soon, you should consider investing in and using a quality body oil now.
Will essential oils work?
The essential oils pregnancy experts recommend are typically added to carrier oils such as jojoba oil or almond oil. For example, you might have a few drops of lavender oil in jojoba oil and use that as a stretch mark body oil.
For even more benefits, consider purchasing a body oil that is specifically designed for use during pregnancy. Look for one that is made from all-natural ingredients and those that are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Essential oils can certainly work to diminish the appearance of stretch marks or help them avoid appearing altogether. In large part, the success of essential oils for stretch marks will depend on how often they are used. Many women claim that their stretch mark body oil "didn't work" at preventing stretch marks during pregnancy; however, it often comes out that these women did not use their body oils on a consistent basis.
Experts recommend using a body oil to prevent stretch marks at least twice a day, if not more. In addition, be sure to use an adequate amount. Don't just use a few drops here and there. Use a decent amount that adequately covers the area where you think stretch marks may form.
For most women, this would be on the lower abdomen and sometimes on the upper abdomen and on the sides of the abdomen as well. Stretch marks may also form on the buttocks, hips, flanks, and breasts.
Oils that work definitely
The best essential oils for pregnancy stretch marks are:
- Lavender oil
- Mandarin oil
- Petitgrain oil
Vitamin E oil is another beneficial option to use for the prevention and treatment of stretch marks. Any of the above oils should be added to a carrier oil such as jojoba or almond oil. They should not be used directly on the skin.
Oils that might work
Certain body oils surely will not harm your skin or cause any damage, but it is not entirely certain whether or not they will provide benefits for stretch marks. These include:
- Neroli oil
- Pomegranate oil
- Patchouli oil
How to use essential oils
It is best to find a body oil product that is specifically designed for pregnant women and includes key essential oils for the prevention of stretch marks. Again, look for a blend that has already been formulated for particular use with stretch marks during pregnancy. Examine the ingredients list, and look for the essential oils listed above. The more beneficial oils that are included in the formula, the more likely it will be that the oil will work in your favour.
Once you have chosen a body oil to use for your pregnancy, start using it before you even become pregnant. This will help nourish and moisturise your skin in the areas where stretch marks are most common. Super-hydrated skin with a lot of elasticity is far less likely to result in stretch marks.
If you did not know that you should start using essential oils on your skin before becoming pregnant, don't worry. Just start whenever you can, even if you’re already in your second or third trimester.
For the remainder of your pregnancy and after the birth of your baby, use your essential oil blend every day. If you can, use it twice a day — once in the morning and once at night. Whenever you use your essential oil blend after a shower or bath, give yourself an added boost of moisture by refraining from drying your skin before applying your oil blend. The added water will be worked into the skin and will infuse it with even more hydration.
As an added tip, don't just apply your oil on the surface of your skin and call it good. Instead, work the oil into your skin by giving yourself a massage. If you have a willing partner, ask him or her to do this for you for an added relaxation benefit!
Side effects and risk
Some people (though very few) may experience an allergic reaction or skin irritation due to the use of essential oils. For this reason, always use essential oils with care, and pay close attention to how your skin reacts, especially after the first few applications.
If redness, a rash, pain, or itching occur, stop using the oils immediately, and contact your doctor or midwife.
Q: Are essential oils safe to use during pregnancy?
A: Yes, with a few caveats. First, not all essential oils are safe for pregnant women. While most are, if you're pregnant, you should avoid using any oils that are not recommended by experts. This list varies from expert to expert, so talk to your midwife if you have questions about specific oils.
Furthermore, it is not recommended that pregnant women put essential oils directly onto their skin. Instead, use only a small amount (1 to 3 drops) and dilute them with a carrier oil such as almond oil or coconut oil. Likewise, you can benefit from essential oils in other products such as candles, balms, and lotions.
Q: When to seek the expertise of a dermatologist?
A: If you were unable to prevent the formation of stretch marks, you do have other options. Dermatologists have the ability to remove stretch marks or at least drastically reduce their appearance by using laser treatments. Intense, focused beams of light can target stretch mark tissue and promote new collagen development so that the skin looks smoother, and stretch marks are hardly noticeable.
You may want to seek the expertise of a dermatologist if you have been unsuccessful with at-home treatment and prevention. Likewise, take note if stretch marks are stopping you from feeling comfortable in your own skin and you are avoiding wearing certain clothing items, going to the beach, or being intimate with your partner. Remember that your mental and emotional health are important, and it's okay to consider professional help to treat and remove stretch marks.
Q: What else can you do to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy?
A: It’s important to note that some women are simply prone to getting stretch marks, which makes it far more likely that the marks will appear, even if numerous preventive measures are taken. With that being said, there are certainly other actions you can take before and during your pregnancy that can help to avoid the appearance of stretch marks.
First, avoid excessive weight gain during pregnancy. You should naturally gain a certain amount of weight during your pregnancy in order to have a healthy baby, but gaining a lot of weight will put extra pressure on your skin, stretching it rapidly over a short period of time. Unfortunately, this provides the perfect conditions for stretch marks.
Talk to your midwife about what range of weight you should aim to gain during your pregnancy, and make it a point to ensure you are comfortable with this range. Remember that there is no set amount of weight that applies to all women because every woman is unique, beautiful, and different.
In addition, remember that regular exercise and stretching can also help reduce the appearance of stretch marks during pregnancy. And finally, ask your mom, aunts, grandmothers, and sisters (if you have them) whether they got stretch marks during their pregnancies. Some experts say that if your female family members tend to get stretch marks, this may mean you’re more likely to as well.
Q: When do stretch marks typically appear during pregnancy?
A: For the most part, stretch marks will appear during the third trimester. This is when the stomach gets stretched to its maximum size and the most stress is put on the skin. Stretch marks on the breasts may not appear until after the birth of your baby when your breasts grow considerably in size due to your milk coming in.
Q: Where do stretch marks typically appear in pregnant women?
A: The most common place for stretch marks to appear during pregnancy is on the stomach as it grows bigger with the development of your baby. Typically, the first stretch marks will appear below the belly button on the lower abdomen, but they can develop anywhere on the stomach, including on the sides of the abdomen and above the belly button.
Other places for stretch marks to appear include the breasts, hips, thighs, buttocks, and lower back.
When you are a pregnant mum, the healthy development of your baby is surely at the forefront of your mind. Still, there are many changes that occur during pregnancy, and for many women, the appearance of stretch marks is something they would like to avoid.
If you are concerned about stretch marks during pregnancy, first, use the tips and advice found above to help prevent them and treat them if they do appear. Next, take heart knowing that stretch marks are completely normal. In fact, nearly every woman has them at least somewhere on her body.
In a way, this makes them a mark of womanhood — a sign of maturity and growth. While it’s certainly okay to want to minimise the appearance of stretch marks, it's also okay to accept them as part of your motherly journey.