It’s time for my weekly analysis of ingredients in a selection of skin care products. This time, I’m looking at creams, oils or other skin care products aimed at pregnant women who want to prevent stretch marks. Whether you believe that stretch marks can be prevented or not, I suspect that you are likely to reach for one of the products advertised specifically for expectant Mums which you may think are deemed to be safe just because they are made for pregnant women. This post won’t tell you if a particular product will prevent stretch marks or not but it will definitely expose all of the ingredients within them so that you can make a choice which one(s) you may opt for.

In terms of actual stretch mark prevention, NHS states that there is no reliable evidence about whether any products can remove them or actually prevent them from appearing in the first place. There is some evidence though that massaging the skin alone may help to prevent stretch marks in pregnancy.

As always, I’m looking for feedback on how useful these analyses are so that I can improve them in the future so please leave me a comment or get in touch with me. I don’t claim to be an expert on chemical ingredients – as with all of my other analyses I’ve spent hours and hours researching each ingredient and questioning its use. These reviews are not intended to replace professional or medical advice. They’re intended to make you a bit more conscious about the choices you make when shopping for skincare products and to make you ask questions, just as I ask them every time I buy a skincare product.

The below list is obviously not exhaustive so if there are any other stretch mark prevention products that you would like me to look at, please leave a comment below.

OK, here we go then…


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Key to ingredient lists:

  • Ingredients known to have positive benefits
  • Ingredients that may cause irritation (especially to sensitive skin)
  • Ingredients considered potentially harmful/ toxic


Brand:  Sanctuary10127576

Product: Mum to be stretch mark oil

Size: 150ml

Price: £10.25


Product description:

“We understand that motherhood demands a lot of your body, so we’ve developed our Mum To Be range especially for the needs of pregnant women and new mums’ skin, ensuring you get the ultimate Sanctuary pampering experience before and after your baby arrives.”

Ingredients (INCI):

  • Prunus amygdalus dulcis (Sweet almond) oil – skin conditioning fuction. Sweet almond oil is well-known for its nourishing properties as it keeps the skin supple. It is a mild and least stimulating oil, therefore tolerated by most skins.
  • Cocos nucifera (Coconut) oil – skin conditioning/ emollient function. The nourishing benefits of coconut oil are well recognised.
  • Rosa rubiginosa (Rosehip) seed oil – skin conditioning function. Rosehip oil has skin rejuvenating properties.
  • Parfum (Fragrance) – an undisclosed mixture of various fragrance chemicals and ingredients; can cause irritation.
  • Dipropylene glycol – synthetic solvent (i.e. a substance that dissolves)
  • Tocopheryl acetate – chemical compound that consists of acetic acid and tocopherol (vitamin E)
  • Triticum vulgare (Wheat) germ oil – skin conditioning/ emollient function. Wheat germ oil is high in Vitamin E which is needed by the skin to keep it nourished and supple.
  • Borago officinalis (Borage) oil – skin conditioning function; extracted from the seeds of borage which is said to have anti-inflammatory properties. 
  • Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) seed oil – skin conditioning function; sunflower oil is lighter than olive oil and tolerated by most skins; it has deeply moisturising properties. 
  • Calophyllum tacamahaca (Tamanu) oil – extracted from nut kernels of the tamanu tree which grows in Polynesia. Tamanu oil has healing properties because it has an ability to produce new skin tissue.
  • Tocopherol – a class of naturally occurring chemical compounds related to Vitamin E, antioxidant and skin conditioning function, fragrance ingredient

My view and rating: ★★★

This is a very good list, with some very beneficial ingredients, although a few of them feature behind the fragrance so their quantity is less than 1% and I would question whether that’s enough for them to truly do their ‘magic’.



Brand:  Weledaen_pregnancy_stretch_mark_massage_oil_rgb-medium

Product: Stretch Mark Massage Oil

Size: 100ml

Price: £15.95


Product description:

“During pregnancy your body needs extra tender care, so you can feel well and enjoy what nature is doing. Stretch Mark Massage Oil uses only pure natural ingredients to protect your skin and support it through the changes. With sweet almond oil, vitamin E rich wheatgerm oil and extract of organic arnica to prevent stretch marks forming, and precious oils of rose, neroli, myrrh and frankincense unfolding a delicate perfume. It’s a pure, natural formula in harmony with your body through a wondrous time. Suitable for vegans.”

Ingredients (INCI):

  • Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil – skin conditioning fuction. Sweet almond oil is well-known for its nourishing properties as it keeps the skin supple. It is a mild and least stimulating oil, therefore tolerated by most skins.
  • Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil – skin conditioning function. Jojoba oil is a liquid wax extracted from the nut of an evergreen desert shrub; it has moisture preserving effects and makes skin soft as velvet.
  • Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil – skin conditioning agent. Wheat germ oil is high in Vit. E.
  • Fragrance (Parfum)* – an undisclosed mixture of various fragrance chemicals and ingredients; can cause irritation.
  • Arnica Montana Flower extract – skin conditioning agent, it is said to restore skin’s suppleness.
  • Limonene* – scent ingredient, naturally ocurring in the rind of citrus fruit. can be an irritant.
  • Linalool* – fragrance ingredient; can be an allergen.
  • Citronellol* – a naturally ocurring scent ingredient derived from plants such as rose, geranium and lemongrass. Can be an irritant.
  • Geraniol*– a naturally occurring scent ingredient found in various essential oils such as rose oil and citronella oil; can be an allergen.
  • Citral* – a naturally occurring scent ingredient; associated with allergies and contact dermatitis.
  • Eugenol* – a naturally occuring scent chemical found in clove oil; it has been associated with allergies and contact dermatitis.
  • Farnesol* – scent ingredient found in nature; associated with allergies and contact dermatitis.

*from natural essential oils

My view and rating: ★★☆

Again, a very good list and there are no ‘nasties’, however there is an awful lot of scent ingredients so this oil may not agree with sensitive skin – and, as we know, hormones can wreak havoc to a pregnant body so even if you may not think your skin in sensitive, it may well be in pregnancy. I would suggest testing it for 24 hours but since it’s an expensive product and it’s unlikely you can get hold of a sample, I would opt for a different product. I love lots of Weleda’s products but this one seems to have way too much fragrance in my view.



Brand:  Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula10051840

Product: Massage Lotion For Stretch Marks

Size: 250ml

Price: £4.75


Product description:

“Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Lotion helps reduce the appearance of stretch marks with a special blend of pure Cocoa Butter, Vitamin E, Shea Butter and Bio C-Elaste®. Bio C-Elaste® is a powerful combination of Collagen, Elastin, Centella Asiatica, Sweet Almond Oil and Argan Oil.  This non-greasy, all over body lotion helps improve elasticity and suppleness of stretching skin during and after pregnancy.  Also recommended for stretch marks associated with weight fluctuations.”

Ingredients (INCI):

  • Water
  • Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Extract – skin conditioning agent. It is pressed out of the seeds of the tropical cacao tree; it has nourishing and protecting properties.
  • Glycerin – may be of animal or vegetable origin as it is found in every fat; humectant (i.e. a substance used to reduce the loss of moisture), skin conditioning function as it is softening and smoothing on the skin.
  • Petrolatum – solid mixture obtained from petroleum. It temporarily protects skin and slows the loss of moisture by forming a barrier on the skin’s surface. 
  • Glyceryl Stearate – skin conditioning agent.
  • Propylene Glycol – humectant (i.e. prevents moisture loss), associated with contact dermatitis and allergies, and also linked to cancer.
  • Cocos Nucifera (Coconut Oil) – skin conditioning/ emollient function. The nourishing benefits of coconut oil are well recognised.
  • Cetyl Alcohol – can be of either animal or vegetable origin; emolient/ emulsion stabiliser function.
  • Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum) – liquid mixture obtained from petroleum. It temporarily protects skin and slows the loss of moisture by forming a barrier on the skin’s surface. 
  • Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter – skin conditioning agent. It is pressed out of the seeds of the tropical cacao tree; it has caring for and protecting properties.
  • Elaeis Guinneensis (Palm) Oil – skin conditioning/ emollient function. Palm oil cultivation is a highly controversial topic.
  • Fragrance – an undisclosed mixture of various fragrance chemicals and ingredients; can cause irritation.
  • Dimethicone – lubricant and conditioning agent. Some limited evidence  of non-reproductive system toxicity.
  • Butyrospermun Parkii (Shea) Butter – fat extracted from the kernels of the fruit of the shea tree, native to Africa; skin conditioning function. Shea butter has intensely healing and nourishing, as well as soothing and calming properties.
  • Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil – skin conditioning fuction. Sweet almond oil is well-known for its nourishing properties as it keeps the skin supple. It is a mild and least stimulating oil, therefore tolerated by most skins.
  • Acetylaringyltryptophyl Diphenylglycine – no information found on this ingredient.
  • Carthamnus Tinctorius (Safflawer) Seed Oil – fragrance ingredient and skin conditioning function. 
  • Centella Asiatica Extract – extract of the leaves and roots of the medicinal plant Gotu Kola, Centella asiatica which has skin conditioning properties and is an antioxidant. 
  • Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil – a fixed oil expressed from the kernels of the African tree, Argania spins. Skin conditioning properties.
  • Tocopherol Acetate – chemical compound that consists of acetic acid and tocopherol (vitamin E)
  • Hydroxyethylcellulose – gelling and thickening function.
  • PEG-8 Stearate – emulsifying function. 
  • Hydrolysed Collagen – humectant/ film forming. It is produced from collagen found in the bones, skin and connective tissue of animals.
  • Hydrolysed Elastin – skin conditioning function. It is obtained from the connective tissue of the skin and blood vessels of fish skin.
  • Phenoxyethanol – a preservative; it has been linked to allergic reactions whereas infant oral exposure to phenoxyethanol is also said to acutely affect nervous system function
  • Benzoic Acid – preservative, pH adjuster; can be an allergen.
  • Sorbic Acid – fragrance ingredient/ preservative, can act as an allergen.
  • Behentrimonium Methosulfate – antistatic agent.
  • Butylene Glycol – humectant, associated with allergies and contact dermatitis, and also linked to cancer.
  • Caramel – colourant.
  • Benzyl Benzoate – solvent and preservative; associated with allergies and contact dermatitis.
  • Benzyl Cinnamate – fragrance ingredient, can be an allergen.
  • Benzyl Salicylate – fragrance ingredient, can be an allergen.
  • d-limonene – scent ingredient, naturally ocurring in the rind of citrus fruit. can be an irritant.
  • Hexyl Cinnamic Aldehyde – naturally occurring and synthetic scent ingredient; it is associated with allergic reactions.
  • Hydroxycitronellal – a common scent ingredient; produced synthetically from naturally occurring scent chemical citronellal.
  • Butylphenyl methylpropional – synthetic scent ingredient; associated with allergies and contact dermatitis.
  • Linalool – fragrance ingredient; can be an allergen.

My view and rating: ☆☆☆

Now that’s what I call a long list – 38 ingredients! Whilst there are some really great ingredients with nourishing and deeply moisturising properties, the presence of propylene and butylene glycols, a PEG, dimethicone and phenoxyethanol means I am not awarding this product any stars. Plus it contains mineral oil which just clogs up your pores.



Brand:  Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula10081379

Product: Tummy Butter®

Size: 250ml

Price: £4.75


Product description:

“Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Tummy Butter® Advanced Formula with Bio C-Elaste® is widely recommended for stretch marks during and after pregnancy and weight loss.  Bio C-Elaste® is a powerful combination of Collagen, Elastin, Centella Asiatica, Sweet Almond Oil and Argan Oil.  The addition of soothing Lavender makes Tummy Butter® a relaxing nighttime treatment. Hypoallergenic – Paraben Free – Phthalate Free – Dermatologist Tested.”

Ingredients (INCI):

  • Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Extract – skin conditioning agent. It is pressed out of the seeds of the tropical cacao tree; it has nourishing and protecting properties.
  • Microcrystalline Wax(Cera Microcristallina) – wax derived from petroleum; binding function.
  • Mineral Oil(Paraffinum Liquidum) – liquid mixture obtained from petroleum. It temporarily protects skin and slows the loss of moisture by forming a barrier on the skin’s surface. 
  • Theobroma Cacao(Cocoa) Seed Butter – skin conditioning agent. It is pressed out of the seeds of the tropical cacao tree; it has caring for and protecting properties.
  • Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil – skin conditioning fuction. Sweet almond oil is well-known for its nourishing properties as it keeps the skin supple. It is a mild and least stimulating oil, therefore tolerated by most skins.
  • Dimethicone – lubricant and conditioning agent. Some limited evidence  of non-reproductive system toxicity.
  • Soluble Elastin – skin conditioning function. It is obtained from the connective tissue of the skin and blood vessels of fish skin.
  • Soluble Collagen – humectant/ film forming. It is produced from collagen found in the bones, skin and connective tissue of animals.
  • Tocopherol Acetate – chemical compound that consists of acetic acid and tocopherol (vitamin E)
  • Centella Asiatica Extract – extract of the leaves and roots of the medicinal plant Gotu Kola, Centella asiatica which has skin conditioning properties and is an antioxidant. 
  • Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil – a fixed oil expressed from the kernels of the African tree, Argania spins. Skin conditioning properties.
  • Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil -a volatile oil obtained from the lavender plant, fragrance ingredient, skin-conditioning function. Lavender has recognised antiseptic and disinfectant properties, but is best known for its relaxing properties. It can act as an allergen though!
  • Carthamus Tictorius (Safflower) Seed Oil – fragrance ingredient and skin conditioning function. 
  • Isopropyl Myristate – organic acid in most animal and vegetable fats, skin conditioning / binding function.
  • Zea Mays (Corn) Oil – refined oil from corn; skin conditioning agent.
  • Beta-Carotene (CI 40800) – colourant.
  • Fragrance 01-11-44603 – an undisclosed mixture of various fragrance chemicals and ingredients; can cause irritation.
  • Benzyl Cinnamate – fragrance ingredient, can be an allergen.
  • Benzyl Benzoate – solvent and preservative; associated with allergies and contact dermatitis.
  • Benzyl alcohol – naturally occurring and synthetic ingredient used as a solvent and preservative; has been associated with contact allergy.
  • Coumarin – naturally occurring and synthetically produced scent chemical; associated with allergies and contact dermatitis.
  • Linalool – fragrance ingredient; can be an allergen.

My view and rating: ☆☆☆

I included both products by Palmer’s as I wanted to show how one company can make two different products aimed at resolving the same issue. I understand that some women may not like the consistency or feel of a oily butter and may want to opt for a lighter lotion but why create a lotion with some harsh chemicals inside them? This butter’s ingredients list is not too bad, although it is very long and I personally don’t think mineral oil does much for you apart from siting on your skin, and on top of that there is limited evidence on the safety of dimethicone, so I’ve decided not to give it any stars.



Brand:  Pregnacare10065654

Product: Stretch Cream

Size: 100ml

Price: £5.99


Product description:

“Pregnacare Stretch Cream is a rich massage cream, specially formulated to care for stretching skin during pregnancy. Pregnacare Stretch Cream’s unique formula contains vitamins C and E and botanical extracts including natural extract of Calendula, Aloe Vera and Evening Primrose Oil, which together gently protect, nourish and moisturise stretching skin. The rich cream has a gentle, natural lavender and citrus fragrance and contains no artificial colours. Pregnacare Stretch Cream is safe and effective during the months of pregnancy and may be continued to be applied after giving birth, to help the contracting skin to stay supple.”

Ingredients (INCI):

  • Aqua (Water)
  • Isopropyl Palmitate – skin conditioning/ binding function; may be of animal origin.
  • Cetyl Alcohol – can be of either animal or vegetable origin; emolient/ emulsion stabiliser function.
  • Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil – skin conditioning properties. Evening primrose oil hydrates the skin and boosts circulation.
  • Citric Acid – alpha hydroxy acid used to adjust the acidity/ pH
  • Pantheon – a form of Vitamin B5, used as a moisturiser and lubricating compound. It can be of either animal or plant origin.
  • Tocopherol Acetate (Vitamin E) – chemical compound that consists of acetic acid and tocopherol (vitamin E)
  • Zinc Oxide – UV filter/ sun protector; bulking function.
  • Glycerin – may be of animal or vegetable origin as it is found in every fat; humectant (i.e. a substance used to reduce the loss of moisture), skin conditioning function as it is softening and smoothing on the skin.
  • Glyceryl Stearate – skin conditioning agent.
  • Petrolatum – solid mixture obtained from petroleum. It temporarily protects skin and slows the loss of moisture by forming a barrier on the skin’s surface. 
  • Propylene Glycol – humectant (i.e. prevents moisture loss), associated with contact dermatitis and allergies, and also linked to cancer.
  • Sodium Ascorbic Phosphate –  a salt of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), used as an antioxidant.
  • Hydrogenated Vegetable Glycerides Citrate – skin conditioning function.
  • Allantoin – found in the urine of mammals; also in many plants. Skin conditioning properties.
  • Phenoxyethanol – a preservative; it has been linked to allergic reactions whereas infant oral exposure to phenoxyethanol is also said to acutely affect nervous system function
  • Magnesium Sulphate – cleansing function.
  • Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Extract) – extract obtained from the leaves of aloe vera; aloe vera is well-known for its caring properties and helping sooth irritation.
  • Hydroxyethylcellulose – gelling and thickening function.
  • Methyl Paraben – preservative. Linked to endocrine (hormone) disruption and cancer (skin and breast), as well as developmental and reproductive toxicity.
  • Sodium Citrate – pH adjuster.
  • Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Sweet Orange) Oil – fragrance ingredient.
  • Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil -a volatile oil obtained from the lavender plant, fragrance ingredient, skin-conditioning function. Lavender has recognised antiseptic and disinfectant properties, but is best known for its relaxing properties. It can act as an allergen though!
  • Sodium Chloride – inorganic salt (also called table salt), thickening function
  • Menthol – a scent ingredient naturally found in peppermint oil; also manufactured synthetically on a large scale.
  • Propyl Paraben – preservative. Linked to endocrine (hormone) disruption and cancer (skin and breast), as well as developmental and reproductive toxicity.
  • Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Oil – cosmetic astringent (i.e. ingredient that induces a tightening or tingling sensation of the skin)
  • Cetyl Stearyl Alcohol – emulsion stabiliser.
  • Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Extract – skin conditioning function. Calendula is well-known for its soothing and antiseptic properties.
  • Tetrasodium EDTA – chelating (binding) agent.

My view and rating: ☆☆☆

It is really disappointing to see such an ingredient list from a well-respected company manufacturing pregnancy vitamins used by millions of women. First of all, it is way too long, secondly – we have the parabens and phenoxyethanol combo (which – if you’ve read my other post on ingredients to avoid in pregnancy – you will know is a no-no as parabens can enhance the allergic effects of phenoxyethanol), and lastly we have propylene glycol. For all those reasons – no stars, I’m afraid.



OVERALL COMPARISON AND VERDICT:

This one is quite easy to conclude – Sanctuary’s oil has a good and straightforward list of ingredients, as well as an affordable price tag which is an extra box it ticks. I haven’t used it myself but based on the ingredients, I would give it a go. I would also give the Weleda oil a second chance as they do make some good products but at £15.95, it is a bit too steep to try out and then find out it is causing an allergic reaction, however the list of ingredients is certainly free from harmful chemicals so a definite thumbs up.

Have you ever tried any of these products? Did you review their ingredients before buying?


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