When I was looking into the best stretch mark prevention/reduction cream while pregnant, the BioOIl product was one that came up most often. All the celebrities swore by it. My neighbor used it, neighbor’s friend, college friends, mom blogs – this oil was all over! I remember I bought it with my first and was sicken by the smell. Granted I had severe morning sickness, but every time I slathered it on, it seemed to make matters worse. Then I took a closer look at the ingredients:
There are a ton of fillers, preservatives and coloring that I wouldn’t go into, but there’s one particular ingredient that most disturb me:
Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A)
Vitamin A is in a lot if not all anti-aging products. Derivatives of vitamin A encourages skin to regenerate, like retinol. So retinol encourages cell regeneration, encouraging skin to “renew” itself and gives the appearance of a younger/youthful glow. If a topical solution on your skin encourages cell regeneration then your skin is more sensitive to sun damage. Not that you’ll be exposing your belly at all times, but still, listing this as a concern because this could cause sensitivity/irritation to the area. This one study found that retinoids (the class of vitamin A derivatives retinol is part of) in high doses can be particularly sensitive and even harmful to unborn children. Oral retinoids (like acne treatment Accutane) are known to cause birth defects. Again, this study on ointment retinoids indicates that it’s harmful in high doses. You’d be slathering it on daily if not multiple times per day. This may not be considered “high dose” but still – would you apply something on your skin shielding your unborn child if you knew it was remotely harmful?
So, when I was pregnant with my second and had more knowledge ammo on healthy, natural, organic and safer products to use, I couldn’t believe how many companies were making false claims. Companies that were marketed as making “natural” pregnancy products were actually making products saturated with potentially toxic ingredients. EWG became my new best friend when I was reading the labels and looking up each ingredient. So the lesson: always read the labels and rule of thumb is that if you can pronounce the ingredient it’s likely safe (although not always. Read my post on natural remedies you should stay away from while pregnant). Certain toxins are well known today such as parabens and phthalates, so these are obvious ones to steer clear.
Here’s the official Eco Mama List on the best organic, natural, safe stretch mark creams. I’ve used all but mostly toggling between Erbaviva and Mambino:
Erbaviva Organic Belly Butter
- Minimal ingredient list. Highly moisturizing properties of cocoa butter and the healing qualities of carrot seed oil.
- Formulated with enriching organic essential oils of lavender, mandarin, sandalwood and rose.
- USDA Certified Organic.
- Completely free from artificial fragrances, dyes, chemical additives and never tested on animals.
- Smells wonderful! Used this product during my entire two pregnancies.
- Rich, luxurious blend of nature’s most nourishing and healing botanicals, softens the appearance of old and prevents new stretch marks
- USDA certified organic
- Aids in the prevention of stretch marks and relieves the itch of skin stretching
- Scar-healing shea butter added to the organic herbs and oil base of Motherlove’s pregnant belly oil
- 100% certified organic ingredients
- 4oz Glass Jar