I’ll admit it: I didn’t gain all that much weight with pregnancy (23 pounds), but I did end up with the world’s worst assortment of stretch marks. I used oils and cocoa butter religiously through the process, but I still ended up with tons of red, angry-looking stretch marks (not to mention that they are even sometimes painful).
In the recovery process, I’ve been willing to try just about anything. So when Fairhaven Health reached out with their Dream Belly Butter, I was intrigued. The product contains a lot of hydrating and soothing ingredients I’ll analyze below — aloe, beeswax, sunflower seed oil, cocoa butter, olive oil, and even honey. What I like about the product is that it has a really thick texture that seems to lock in moisture and absorb slowly throughout the day. I’ve been putting it on twice daily — after vitamin C serum in the morning to build collagen, and after a retinoid serum in the evening to rebuild collagen and elastin.
None of the ingredients here are going to magically reverse stretch marks, but they should help in the healing process. When the skin becomes dry, skin cells aren’t absorbing moisture as well, which means they lose some of their strength and structure. Part of the skin cells’ energy is being utilized to harvest and maintain moisture, rather than on rejuvenation and repair (where I need it most). This is also why silicone gel sheeting works so well for scars — it’s a very simple thought process involving protecting and sealing in moisture, but it works.
With that said, here’s some ingredient analysis:
Aloe Vera: Mild Healing Properties
Natural glycoproteins found in aloe may help speed the healing process by minimizing pain and inflammation, while polysaccharides stimulate skin growth and repair.
What’s more, Aloe Vera’s anti-inflammatory properties can reduce redness and help skin heal more quickly, as shown in this study whereby aloe vera inhibited MMP production in the skin, making it effective for skin ailments like psoriasis.
Shea butter has been touted to do everything from help skin inflammation to work as an anti-aging ingredient — but what does it actually do?
Shea butter has actually been shown to have some anti-aging properties. In two studies it was determined to help regenerate thinning skin, lessen wrinkles from sun damage, improve complexion, and promote healing (Pobeda and Sousselier). The anti-aging, potentially collagen-boosting effects were attributed to the presences of unsaponifiables, lipids found in fatty fruits like avocado. In a study with rats, these were shown to boost collagen production (British Journal of Dermatology). Unsaponifiables in avocado and soybeans have been shown, not simply to reduce wrinkles through hydrating effect, but to actually increase collagen production (Phytotherapy Research).
Several studies suggest that it has anti-inflammatory powers. It will reduce reactions to skin irritants (British Journal of Dermatology). It’s also been shown to aid in nasal congestion (Pobeda and Sousselier). But most studies should be done to determine exactly how effective it is for soothing inflammation (or stretch marks, for that matter).
While no product will help to magically erase stretch marks, all you can do is attack them with a one-two punch of collagen-building treatments (i.e., vitamin C, retinoids, peptides, microdermabrasion and laser treatments) combined with protective, healing treatments (i.e., shea butter, olive oil, aloe, etc.) So I like Fairhaven Health Dream Belly Butter for use with other, more potent treatments, as a protective, sealing, healing cream.
Water (Aqua), Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Beeswax, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Cetyl Esters, Glycerin (Vegetable Derived), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Isopropyl Palmitate (Palm Oil), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Plant Derived), Glyceryl Stearate (Plant Derived), Polysorbate-60 (Plant Derived), Polyacrylamide, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5), Olea Europaea (ORGANIC Olive) Fruit Oil, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Cetearyl Alcohol (Plant Derived), Cetearyl Glucoside, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Laureth-7, Xanthan Gum (Natural Thickener), Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Fragrance (Parfum), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Acetate), Tocopherol (Antioxidant), Rose Canina Fruit (Rose Hips) Oil, Honey, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Extract (Natural Preservative), Glyceryl Caprylate (Natural Preservative), Glyceryl Undecylenate (Natural Preservative)