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The Best Belly Oils to Pamper Your Bump, According to Dermatologists
June 14, 2024

The Best Belly Oils to Pamper Your Bump, According to Dermatologists

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The Best Belly Oils to Pamper Your Bump, According to Dermatologists.
The Best Belly Oils to Pamper Your Bump, According to Dermatologists

Pregnancy comes with a laundry list of bodily changes, from glowy skin to thick, luscious strands. Some changes you’ll experience are not as glamorous (all-day sickness masquerading as morning sickness, we’re looking at you) and may even take you by surprise. Growing a baby can open the door to “many hormone-related skin changes,” and, “as your skin expands to accommodate your growing baby, it tends to get dry and itchy,” Dr. Carmen Castilla, a board-certified medical and cosmetic dermatologist practicing at New York Dermatology Group, tells us.

Dr. Jocelyn Gandelman, a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC, explains that your skin will become thinner, “as it is under more tension, and stretch marks can develop.” Along with your skin darkening and a linea nigra forming, it’s safe to say that you’ll watch your skin transform along with your bump. The good news is that, as your bump grows and your skin stretches, Dr. Castilla says that you can use a belly oil to help soothe dry and itchy skin. And cycling in a belly oiling session to your daily routine is also a nice self-care treat that pregnant people truly deserve.

Keep reading to discover the best belly oils for your bump.

Babylist’s Top Picks for the Best Bump Oil

Babylist’s Picks for the Best Bump Oil

Best Overall Belly Oil

Once upon a time, the celeb-praised Hatch Belly Oil had a 1,000-person waitlist—which says a lot about its fan-base. The oil has checks off all of the major boxes for belly oil—natural ingredients, hydrating blend, light citrus fragrance (a plus if you are not sensitive to that) and most importantly, it won’t leave you feeling like a greaseball applying it. The glowing fan-base rave about it’s dry, fast-absorbing properties which is especially nice if you are not usually a body oil user. Blended with skin-soothing calendula and moisturizing sweet almond oil, this belly oil seals in moisture and can be used all over your body because it’s that lightweight. And for on-the-go, you can grab the roller ball size.

Best Lightweight Belly Oil

Bio-Oil is a founding mother in the belly oil category, and the vitamin A and vitamin E-rich formula strengthens your skin’s barrier while the chamomile soothes irritation. Keep in mind that this oil has a light fragrance, so if you’d rather have a fragrance-free option or you have sensitive skin, we suggest choosing a different oil (like the best hypoallergenic one on our list).

Best Fragrance-Free Belly Oil

Ok, this is not a belly oil exactly, but this solid body butter melts into your skin like an oil would and is packed full of skin-nourishing ingredients that your belly will love. The top two ingredients, cocoa butter and shea butter, are fatty and rich moisturizers that’ll combat dryness, irritation and soothe inflamed skin. The blend of plant-based oils, like sweet almond, marula, and avocado, helps to protect your skin barrier while your skin stretches to accommodate your growing baby. The bar design makes it easy for you to glide across your skin, mess-free (and it’s perfect for traveling too!). And once you’ve had your baby, you can use it during postpartum and beyond.

Best Hypoallergenic Belly Oil:

If your skin is extra sensitive outside of pregnancy, it’s fair to assume that it’ll be just as sensitive during pregnancy. Recommended by Dr. Castilla, the Honest Glow On Body Oil has a short and sweet list of mostly organic oils, including sunflower, olive, coconut and jojoba seed oil. Dr. Castilla says that “for sensitive skin, it can be helpful to use simple fragrance-free formulations without too many ingredients.”

Best Luxe Belly Oil

Treating yourself to a daily trip to the spa is likely out of the realm of possibilities for most of us, but you can treat your bump to a luxe rub down at home with Osea’s Undaria Algae body oil. Formulated with Undaria seaweed (a seaweed clinically proven to improve the look of skin), the oil nourishes your skin’s barrier and helps to actually improve your skin’s firmness and elasticity, which is helpful when your skin is stretching like a rubber band.

Best Cocoa Butter Formula

When I asked what ingredients a pregnant person should look for in a belly oil, Dr. Castilla noted cocoa butter was at the top of the list. Here’s why: cocoa butter is full of fatty acids that moisturize skin, lock in naturally occurring moisture and protect your skin barrier. Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula is also formulated with vitamin E, lecithin (a natural humectant that draws moisture into your skin from the environment) and elastin (helps to improve elasticity, stretch and recoil of skin). A personal favorite of mine (even though I’m nine months postpartum), I still use this oil in my regular rotation.

Best for Stretch Marks

Here’s the lowdown on stretch marks during pregnancy (or any other time in your life): Dr. Castilla says that, for the most part, stretch marks are genetic when it comes to pregnancy. So if your mom had stretch marks, you’re likely to develop them too—and most products aren’t going to help to prevent them. Now that we’ve cleared that up, Ever-Eden Gold Belly Serum has run clinical trials to test how well their product changes the appearance of stretch marks and, according to their in-house study, volunteers noticed a 62 percent improvement of their stretch marks in 8 weeks (in this case, stretch marks that already exist). One Babylister called the Evereden belly serum the best oil they’ve ever used, saying “my stretch marks were getting worse during the last few months of pregnancy. After using this, they are fading back to normal!” Bonus—this belly oil is EWG certified.

How We Chose the Best Belly Oil

  • We spoke to Dr. Castilla and Dr. Gandelman about the skin changes pregnant people can expect during pregnancy and how belly oils can help.
  • I researched dozens of high-rated belly oils on the market and narrowed down the list using Dr. Gandelman and Dr. Castilla’s guidance.
  • I used my own experience as a commerce editor and recently pregnant mom of two.

Do I Need a Belly Oil

The list of what you need to buy to get through the ten months of pregnancy is already pretty lengthy, so we totally get why you’d question if it’s necessary to add a belly oil into the mix. According to Dr. Gandelman, a belly oil is optional. “It’s most important is to keep the skin on your abdomen well hydrated—this can be done with a belly oil, but also can be done with gentle moisturizers. Theoretically, well-moisturized skin will be better able to stretch, decreasing the chance of stretch marks—but this has not been proven,” Dr. Gandelman tells us. If you’ve never tried a body oil and you’re oil-curious, try it out!

Will a belly oil help to prevent stretch marks?

According to Dr. Castilla and Dr. Gandelman, the most important fact to remember (maybe even recite) about stretch marks is that they are genetic and dependent on another uncontrollable factor during pregnancy, of how fast your body grows. “Much of whether you get stretch marks is genetic and related to the speed of weight gain and total amount of weight gain in pregnancy. Stretch marks are a normal part of pregnancy,” Dr. Gandelman explains.

But will a belly oil help? Dr. Gandelman explains that, in theory, “the benefit is that if the skin is moisturized, it is more easily able to stretch during pregnancy, decreasing the chance of stretch marks. This has not actually been proven, but if a daily or twice daily moisturizing/oil routine is easy to add to your routine and makes your skin feel better, it is a simple thing to try.”

What to look for in belly oil for pregnancy?

  • Retinoid-free: Retinoids shouldn’t be used while pregnant because of the high levels of vitamin A, which has been found to put your baby at risk for birth defects. Make sure you read the list of ingredients, opt for pregnancy-specific belly oils (like the ones we’ve rounded up here) and when in doubt, ask your OBGYN.
  • Fragrance-free for sensitive skin: If you have sensitive skin outside of pregnancy, that isn’t likely to change. Choose a belly oil with no added fragrances or botanicals to limit the possibility of irritation.
  • Allergens: You’ll notice that a popular ingredient in belly and body oils is sweet almond oil, which is totally safe for pregnancy and beyond if you don’t have a nut allergy. If you do, however, make sure that you read the list of ingredients and avoid blends with nut oils.

  • Skin nourishing ingredients: Your belly oil should leave your skin feeling soft, well-moisturized and supple. Dr. Castilla and Dr. Gandelman say ingredients like coconut oil, hyaluronic acid, ceramides, shea butter and cocoa butter will help you achieve just that.

Latifah Miles

Senior Commerce Editor

Latifah Miles is the Senior Commerce Editor at Babylist.

This information is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. Babylist may earn compensation from affiliate links in this content. Learn more about how we write Babylist content and review products, as well as the Babylist Health Advisory Board.