Essential Oils, Fertility

Essential Oils For Stretch Marks – How To Reduce Them Naturally In Pregnancy & Beyond

Updated on 22 July 2021 • 11 minute read
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Overview

Although stretch marks are a common pregnancy symptom they’re not just limited to women and expecting mamas. Men can sometimes get them too! 

Skin is quite elastic, but there are times when it can’t keep up with rapid growth in the body, such as in pregnancy or abrupt weight gain

These marks can fade away with time, but you can speed up the healing process with essential oils.

What essential oils are the best for stretch marks, and are they safe to use? Read on to find out.

 

What Are Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks are streaks on the skin subjected to rapid growth. 

They’re known medically as striae or striae gravidarum. They can be red, pink, white, purple, or even bluish.

Although you don’t notice when it happens, stretch marks are actually scars caused by tears in the skin cells of the dermis (middle skin layer). 

Common reasons for skin tearing:

  • Pregnancy
  • Growth spurt during adolescence
  • Rapid weight gain or even weight loss

 

Some medical conditions can also cause stretch marks:

  • Marfan Syndrome (an inherited disorder that affects connective tissues and can cause weakened less elastic skin) (1)
  • Cushing’s Syndrome (excessive hormone cortisol levels causes rapid weight gain and pink or purple stretch marks) (2)

 

Women are more prone to stretch marks. These skin streaks usually appear in these areas:

  • Stomach
  • Breasts
  • Thighs
  • Upper arms
  • Buttocks 
  • Hips

 

The Best Essential Oils For Stretch Marks 

Stretch marks don’t cause medical problems. But you can improve your skin’s appearance the natural way by using the following essential oils:

 

Bitter Almond Oil

  • It’s made from the seeds of bitter almonds.
  • This oil may help improve your skin’s elasticity. (3)
  • A 2012 study found that bitter almond oil may work better with massage than just applying the oil on your skin. (4)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • Unsafe to use during pregnancy
  • Don’t use two weeks before a scheduled surgery
  • Can cause drowsiness
  • Don’t take with sedatives because it can cause too much sleepiness
  • This oil might contain some toxic compounds that may not be safe in large quantities. (4)

 

Bitter Orange Oil

  • It’s made from the peel of bitter orange fruit.
  • A 2011 study found that this oil may be used as a skin-conditioning agent to prevent skin fragility. (5)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • Bitter orange oil can cause photosensitivity (light sensitivity), especially to fair-skinned people. This usually happens if the oil is applied directly to the skin and exposed to bright light shortly afterward. (5)
  • Keep away from children

 

Lavender Essential Oil

  • Lavender oil is commonly used in aromatherapy (holistic healing therapy using aromatic essential oils to improve your mind, body, and spirit). (6)
  • It’s known for its calming effects. (6)
  • It’s safe for use on sensitive skin, but make sure it’s diluted with a carrier oil.
  • It may help increase collagen production, the body’s most abundant protein found in the skin, bones, muscles, and tendons. (7)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • May cause skin sensitization
  • Safe for use during pregnancy
  • Safe for use with children 3+ months old

 

Neroli Essential Oil

  • It’s made from the flowers of the same tree used in making bitter orange oil.
  • A 2008 study showed that neroli essential oils might have antioxidant properties. (8)
  • It may reduce or slow down the damage caused by harmful free radicals, which are unstable molecules in your body. (8)
  • This oil may help your skin cells regenerate to reduce your stretch marks. (8)(9)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • Safe for children 6+ months old
  • Safe for pregnancy

 

Patchouli Oil

  • This oil also has antioxidant properties that may help in fading scars and healing wounds. (9)
  • It may also promote collagen production and repair damaged skin cells. (9)
  • It may also help strengthen your skin. (9)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • May inhibit blood clotting
  • May interact with certain medications; consult a doctor before use
  • Safe for use in children 2+ years old

 

Pomegranate Oil

  • It has anti-inflammatory properties that may promote scar fading. (3)
  • It also has antioxidant properties. (3)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • Can be dangerous if used together with blood thinner warfarin medications

 

Pomegranate Oil & Dragon’s Blood Extract

  • Pomegranate oil can be mixed with dragon’s blood extract (a natural plant resin made from tropical tree species known as dragon trees: Croton, Daemonorops, Pterocarpus, or Dracaena). (10)
  • A 2017 study showed that this mixture may improve your skin’s thickness and elasticity to prevent and possibly heal stretch marks. (10)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • Can be dangerous if used together with blood thinner warfarin medications

 

Frankincense Essential Oil

  • Some vitamins found in frankincense essential oil may help soften your skin. (9)
  • This oil contains antioxidants that may keep your skin healthy. (9)
  • It may also help promote skin cell regeneration. (9)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • May cause skin sensitization after exposure to sunlight
  • It’s safe to use during pregnancy
  • It’s safe for children 2+ years old

 

Gotu Kola Oil

  • This oil is from the Gotu kola plant, a small herb from the parsley family.
  • It may help improve your skin’s tensile strength (a material’s resistance to stretching and breaking. (11)
  • It may help increase collagen production. (11)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • No known precautions

 

Myrrh Oil

  • This oil has astringent properties (causes contraction of skin cells and related tissues). (12)
  • It may help promote healthy blood flow to your skin. (12)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • It may be fetotoxic (can be poisonous to a developing baby)
  • Unsafe for pregnancy
  • Safe for children 2+ years old

 

Geranium Essential Oil

  • This oil may help improve skin elasticity. (6)
  • It may also help mend broken collagen. (6)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • May cause skin sensitization
  • Safe for children 6+ months old
  • Safe for pregnancy

 

Helichrysum Oil

  • It may stimulate new cell growth and repair. (13)
  • It may encourage the regeneration of skin cells and tissues. (13)
  • It’s an oil that can help improve blood circulation. (13)
  • It has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and astringent properties. (13)
  • It may help improve your skin condition. (13)
  • It may help restore your damaged skin cells. (13)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • May sometimes cause skin irritation
  • Safe for use in pregnancy
  • Safe for use in children 2+ months old

 

Grapefruit Oil

  • This oil is a natural cleanser that can support a healthy metabolism. (9)
  • It’s an oil used for skincare because it may help in reducing scars, stretch marks, and cellulite (dimpled, droopy skin caused by fat buildup under your skin). (9)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • It’s a phototoxic oil. It can cause sensitization if your skin is exposed to sunlight.
  • It’s safe for use in pregnancy
  • It’s safe to use in kids 6+ months old

 

Lemongrass Oil

  • This oil can uplift your mood when placed in a diffuser.
  • It may also be used on your skin. (14)
  • It may help reduce cellulite and stretch marks. (14)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • It’s potentially teratogenic (can disrupt your baby’s development in the womb)
  • Unsafe to use during pregnancy
  • Safe to use in children 2+ years old
  • Keep away from pets

 

Carrot Seed Oil

  • This oil contains high concentrations of vitamin A. (15)
  • It may help with skin cell regeneration around scar tissues such as stretch marks. (15)
  • It’s an antiseptic that has high levels of antioxidants. (15)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • Unsafe to use during pregnancy
  • Can interfere with gestation
  • Safe for use in children 6+ months old

 

Tea Tree Oil

  • This oil may contain antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent multiple skin issues. (6)
  • Tea tree oil may help keep your skin healthy by rejuvenating your skin cells. (6)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • Can cause skin sensitization
  • Safe for use in pregnancy
  • Safe for use with children 6+ months old

 

Sage Oil

  • It may enhance blood flow in your body to bring more vitamins and essential nutrients to your skin. (16)
  • It also has inflammatory, astringent, antispasmodic, and analgesic properties. (16)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • Unsafe for use during pregnancy
  • Use only for children 6+ years old
  • Not to be used by people with epilepsy
  • Not to be used by people with high blood pressure
  • Should only be used for short periods

 

How Do You Prevent Stretch Marks?

Once they appear, it can be hard to get rid of stretch marks. The essential oils we listed above can help lighten or reduce stretch marks

But sometimes, it may take years before you can fully remove these marks.  

That’s why it’s a better idea to prevent stretch marks from forming instead of trying to get rid of them. 

The following are some wellness tips you can follow:

Hydration

  • Keep your skin hydrated because that can make it more pliable and stretchable.
  • Aim to drink at least 64 oz (8 cups) of water a day.
  • Dry skin is vulnerable to stretch marks and other skin conditions.

 

Keep Skin Moisturized

  • You can use lotion to moisturize your skin.
  • In moisturizing your skin, you can also use the essential oils for stretch marks listed above. (6)
  • A plant called aloe vera is one of the home remedies for scars and dry skin. Its thick gel-like stems store water. The stems are cut, and the gel is used in moisturizing your skin. (17)

 

Healthy Diet with Lots of Vitamins & Minerals

  • There are many vitamins and minerals naturally found in food sources.
  • Choose foods rich in vitamins A and E because both promote healthy cells and tissues in your entire body, including your skin.
  • Examples of these vitamin-rich foods: Almonds, beef liver, sweet potato, cod liver oil, beet greens, collard greens, pumpkin, spinach, sunflower, safflower, soybean oil, peanuts, peanut butter, and red bell peppers.
  • Try to incorporate whole foods in your diet, including eggs, pastured meat, and poultry. Organic, GMO-free products may be a better choice.

 

Gelatin & Collagen Consumption

  • Gelatin comes from animal collagen, particularly cows and pigs. (18)
  • This food can provide you with collagen to serve as building blocks for your skin collagen production. (18)
  • Choose gelatin from grass-fed cows.

 

Balancing Your Fatty Acids

  • Some fatty acids are good for your skin and may help prevent stretch marks. (19)
  • But not all fatty acids are good. Balance your fatty acids by eating more food rich in omega-3s than omega-6s.

 

Sulfur Consumption

  • Sulfur is another building block for producing collagen for your skin. (20)
  • You can get your sulfur from eggs, meat, and cruciferous vegetables (kale, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage). (21)

 

How To Use Essential Oils To Reduce Stretch Marks

Essential oils are concentrated liquids extracted from plants. 

Studies have shown that these oils may help reduce or even prevent the appearance of stretch marks. But they shouldn’t be applied directly on the skin without carrier oils. (4)

 

Carrier Oils

The following are among the best carrier oils for stretch marks:

 

Rosehip Oil

  • It’s made from seeds of rose flowers.
  • It can be applied as your moisturizer.
  • This oil may help prevent new stretch marks from forming. (3)
  • It may reduce the severity of skin tearing during pregnancy. (22)
  • It may also help stop the progression of existing skin tears and scarring. (3)
  • A 2013 study showed that an anti-stretch mark cream made from rosehip oil may be more effective than the placebo (a pill with no active ingredients). (22)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • Avoid use with oily skin

 

Evening Primrose Oil

  • This oil may have anti-aging properties by helping your skin cells regenerate. (23)
  • It may also be good therapy for reducing the streaks on your skin. (23)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • May cause abdominal upset or bloating if excessively used internally
  • May increase risk of bleeding in people taking blood-thinning medications

 

Argan Oil

  • It’s made from argan tree kernels.
  • Argan oil may improve your skin’s elasticity to reduce stretch marks. (24)
  • When used regularly, it may even prevent stretch marks from appearing on your skin. (24)
  • It’s usually used topically.
  • Some formulations can be ingested (taken internally). Check the label before drinking.

 

Safety & Caution:

  • Don’t use it if you have nut allergies

 

Coconut Oil

  • It’s an emollient (a material that softens the skin) that may keep your skin hydrated. (3)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • It may cause irritation on sensitive skin

 

Grapeseed Oil

  • It has astringent properties and may help tighten your skin. (3)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • May cause dizziness or headaches if used excessively
  • Before use, consult your doctor if you have high blood pressure or bleeding disorder

 

Jojoba Oil

  • It may help prevent skin infections. (3)
  • It may promote wound healing. (3)
  • It may also have some anti-aging properties. (3)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • It might clog your pores

 

Olive Oil

  • This carrier oil may help lighten your stretch and scar marks by stimulating skin cell reconstruction. (3)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • Can cause rashes on sensitive skin
  • May cause blackheads
  • May cause inflammation

 

Sweet Almond Oil

  • It may help prevent the existing marks from spreading. (25)(26)
  • It may also stop these marks from itching. (26)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • Use with caution if you’re allergic to nuts

 

Shea Butter 

  • It may help moisturize your skin to lighten the marks. (3)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • No known contraindications

 

Apricot Kernel Oil

  • It’s another emollient that may help keep your skin healthy. (3)
  • Its moisturizing properties may keep your skin cells hydrated. (3)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • Don’t use it if you have nut allergies

 

Wheat Germ Oil

  • This carrier oil contains many vitamins A, D, and E that may help promote your skin’s natural regeneration process. (27)

 

Safety & Caution:

  • Avoid if you have wheat allergies

 

These carrier oils dilute the concentration of essential oils to help prevent irritation and burning, especially if you have sensitive skin.

To prepare a mixture for stretch marks, add 15 to 30 drops of essential oil to 1 oz of carrier oil

As a rule of thumb, follow these combinations:

  • For 2.5 percent dilution: 15 drops of essential oil per 1 oz of carrier oil
  • For 3 percent dilution: 20 drops of essential oil per 1 oz of carrier oil
  • For 5 percent dilution: 30 drops of essential oil per 1 oz of carrier oil
  • For 10 percent dilution: 60 drops of essential oil per 1 oz of carrier oil

 

Always start with the lowest dilution. Check your skin tolerance to the mixture using a patch test.

 

How To Do A Patch Test

  • Apply a drop or two of the mixture to your inner wrist or forearm.
  • Mark this spot by making a circle around it using a ballpen.
  • Leave it on for 24 hours.
  • If the spot turns red, becomes itchy, or shows any sign of irritation, then the oil isn’t safe for you.

 

DIY Pregnancy-Safe Stretch Mark Cream

You can prepare your own essential oil blends, depending on what you like or the materials you have at home.

Here’s one essential oil recipe for making stretch mark cream at home:

Ingredients

  • 3 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 3 drops of frankincense essential oil
  • 3 drops of grapefruit essential oil 
  • 3 drops of tea tree essential oil 
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil 
  • 2 tbsp shea butter
  • 1 tsp of liquid vitamin E

 

Directions

  • Melt shea butter and coconut oil. Use low heat.
  • Add the rest of the EOs and vitamin E oil. Mix well.
  • Store in a dark glass airtight container and keep away from sunlight. 

 

Note that though these oils may help reduce stretch and scar marks on some people’s bodies, they might not be effective for everyone. 

The results may vary among people, depending on your skin condition, types of oils used, concentration and mixtures, and other factors. (6)

Severe and older marks can be more difficult to erase than new marks. So, if you’re planning on using essential oils, it might be a good idea to start therapy when the marks are still new.

Fresh, red marks may respond better to oil therapy.

 

Side Effects And Risks

Essential oils aren’t regulated by the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration). To minimize your risks, only buy oils from trusted manufacturers that: (6)

  • Can provide materials safety data sheets of their products
  • Are known and recognized in the professional aromatherapy industry.
  • Provide the manufacturing origin and method of oil extraction on the label.
  • Don’t add synthetic ingredients and toxic chemicals to products.

 

You can find many essential oils even on Amazon and other retail outlets. Still, it’s best to always check the product description before buying.

Common side effects of essential oils:

  • Skin irritation
  • Allergic reaction
  • Photosensitivity (light sensitivity) which can make you more prone to sunburns. (6)

 

Stop using the oils if you experience:

  • Redness on your skin
  • Rashes
  • Itchy skin
  • Hives
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Light sensitivity or painful skin when exposed to bright light.

 

Use During Pregnancy & Lactation

  • Stretch marks are common during pregnancy, especially during the third trimester.
  • Some essential oils may be safe to use during pregnancy and while you’re breastfeeding.

 

If you’re trying to conceive or pregnant, check if the essential oils you’re using are on these lists:

Consult your doctor or healthcare provider before using these natural remedies during pregnancy and lactation.

If your doctor allows you to use essential oils, ask whether you can apply them topically or simply use a diffuser.

Note that pregnant women are more sensitive to scents, even to aromas that they used to love pre-pregnancy. It’s a good idea to keep the dilution at just 1%.

But if you can, try to avoid topical applications of essential oils when you’re pregnant, especially during the first trimester.

 

 

 

REFERENCES

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796020/

(2) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22594386/

(3) https://academicjournals.org/article/article1380019714_Suryawanshi.pdf

(4) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2221169115001033

(5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4880962/

(6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2459252/

(7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5435909/

(8) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5338857/

(9) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3116297/

(10) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23237514/

(11) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6749531/

(12) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5805555/

(13) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5801909/

(14) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4769755/

(15) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3809930/

(16) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/marfan-syndrome/symptoms/

(17) https://www.aans.org/en/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Cushings-Disease

(18) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6483707/

(19) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31187836/

(20) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5440454/

(21) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2198910/

(22) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1264524/pdf/biochemj01022-0143.pdf

(23) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18164596/

(24) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18492193/

(25) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5019162/

(26) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20129403/

(27) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28521546/

(28) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32059850/

 

 

 

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