There are a lot of stretch-mark butters and oils out there on the shelves. But before you reach for something be sure to check the ingredients list because many of the products you’ll find in pharmacies and stores contain dubious ingredients: preservatives like parabens and BHT; oil bases made from petroleum by-products like Paraffinum Liquidum or mineral oil, and of course colourants and synthetic perfumes. It seems strange that companies can make products that target pregnant women and their growing bumps and pack them with known carcinogens – especially when we now know certain chemicals absorbed by the skin can cross the placenta – but unfortunately that’s how it is. Luckily, there are a number of commercial products for pregnant women made with plant based oils that are completely preservative and fragrance free like Weleda’s Stretch Mark Oil. However, if you do not have the wallet for these natural brands (why is less always more expensive??) you can always… MAKE YOUR OWN!
Of course, you can always simply use coconut oil or sweet almond oil as an all-body lubricant. I’ve also heard about women who use coconut oil with great results on their babies to prevent diaper rash. But if you want something a bit more conditioning and a bit less slippery here is a simple formula that will allow you to make your own deeply penetrating and highly nourishing belly butter that looks like cream and melts like butter 😀
The basic formula for a body butter is 3 parts hard butters or oils and 1 part liquid oil and 1 tbsp of starch (like corn starch or arrowroot flour) per every cup (250 ml) of butter, as well as 5-10 drops of vitamin E per every cup of butter. Vitamin E is especially good at preventing and treating stretch-marks and it also prolongs the shelf-life of your product, so I always add it to my butters. You can add your choice of essential oils just make sure that they are suitable for pregnancy first! Try to use organic products when you can.
Here is a recipe using this formula:
- 1/4 cup cocoa butter
- 1/4 cup Shea butter
- 1/8 cup mango butter
- 1/8 cup coconut oil (this is an oil, but since it is hard at room temp it can be counted as a butter)
For you last 1/4 cup of butter you can use your choice of butter or butters, like mango, kokum or coconut oil.
- 1/4 cup of sweet almond oil or a mixture of oils. Jojoba oil is especially great for the skin since it is similar to our own sebum, and rosehip seed oil is also especially great for healing stressed skin because of it’s high mineral and Vitamin A contents. I usually make a blend of almond, jojoba, rosehip and avocado oils.
Slowly melt your butters in a double boiler.
When they have melted, add your oil or oil mixture and give it all a quick mix and quickly remove the bowl from the heat and allow to cool. At this point you can choose whether you want whipped butter or a balm-like butter. If you don’t want to bother whipping it, simply allow your mixture to cool then add your Vitamin E and essential oils, gently stir it before pouring it into cleaned and sterilized jars. If you want a whipped belly butter, carefully whisk in your starch and allow to cool or place directly into an icebath.
Wait until the oils start to turn opaque and harden before coming in with your electric whisk and adding your vitamin E and essential oils. Whip the mixture until it looks like white smooth frosting or whipped cream! You will need more jars to store the whipped version of your butter, because it contains air.
Popular wisdom says to always combine your outside lubrication with lots of internal lubrication (ie. stay hydrated and eat lots of fiber). I’ve also heard that stretchmarks are hereditary. So who knows! Personally, I have been using various versions of this butter on my belly since the first trimester, twice daily, and I still don’t have any stretchmarks. Although, it’s early in the balloon phase so this may change – if it does, I will let you know!
It’s been a few months since I had my baby and I wanted to let you know that I never ended up getting stretch marks. Although it turned out I had a low amount of amniotic fluid I was certainly big enough that stretchmarks could have happened. I continued using the belly butter until the end although I got lazier about applying it twice daily, and made sure never to use soap on my stomach (to avoid drying out the skin). I’m still not sure which factor plays the biggest role when it comes to stretchmarks, but I think genes may be a big one. Still, this butter is so deliciously luxurious you don’t need an excuse to use it. I’m making some more right now 😉