It’s the essential pregnancy product: we test six natural formulas
While body oil may not have been part of your daily beauty routine before expecting, it’s likely to be a key product in your bathroom cabinet during pregnancy. When your skin is rapidly stretching to accommodate a growing bump and bust, keeping it soft and supple is extremely important in helping to prevent stretch marks – applying body oil not only improves skin elasticity, it also helps boost circulation. Science does suggest that whether you develop stretch marks (also known medically as stria or striae) is mainly down to genetics, but as the saying goes, prevention is always better than a cure. Here our editor Amanda Woodward-Brown tests out six of our favourite oils.
The details: With exotic Amazonian oils Andiroba and Pracaxi, US-based beauty brand Prim Botanicals‘ silky body oil isn’t made specifically for pregnancy, however the all-natural, deeply hydrating formula has become a cult hit with expectant women stateside.
The verdict: Perfumed with a delicate, tropical scent with notes of jasmine, bergamot and black pepper, this is the perfect oil for when you are short on time. The lightweight formula makes it easy to apply and it quickly absorbs into the skin, leaving it moisturised without any slick residue. I also love the pretty packaging – you’ll want to put the bottle on display rather than hide it away in a beauty cabinet.
The details: Part of cult UK beauty brand Cowshed’s range for expectant and new mothers, the star ingredient in this all-natural formula is Sea Buckthorn Oil, a nourishing emollient packed with fatty acids. It also contains vitamin E alongside calendula, jojoba and evening primrose oils to pamper and protect skin.
The verdict: The woody scent of this honey-hued formula evokes a feeling of stepping into one of Cowshed’s luxurious spas. A rich emollient, I would suggest using this in the evening after an indulgent soak in the bath or shower, when you have time to properly massage the oil into your skin.
The details: Containing camellia oil from Japan, a centuries old beauty secret for healthy nails, hair and skin, the British spa brand’s oil is rich in plant collagen to help keep skin supple. The finest grade oil for Aromatherapy, it is used in Elemis’ nurturing pregnancy massages.
The verdict: This fast-absorbing oil quickly penetrates the skin. With a subtle floral scent it is ultra-nourishing and leaves my bump silky soft. I also love the fact that the plant-based formula is gentle enough to use for baby massage once little one arrives.
The details: Made in small batches and created especially for expecting, the Natural Spa Factory’s oil is packed with sweet almond and wheat germ, as well as rose, mandarin, ho wood and bitter orange oil to provide intense nourishment and help ease water retention. It is recommended that you only use this oil after your first trimester.
The verdict: With a bright, citrusy smell, this uplifting oil leaves skin feeling moisturised but it does take awhile to absorb, so it is best applied when you aren’t about to run out the door. It also doubles as a bath oil – just pour it into running water for a relaxing soak. Perfect if, like me, you are suffering from fluid retention during pregnancy.
The details: When actress Natalie Portman (a long-time fan of Pai) fell pregnant, the innovative skincare company created this all-natural, omega-rich oil for the star. Sold as part of a two-step system with a cream for morning and oil for evening it is suitable for all stages of pregnancy and is crammed with antioxidants and essential fatty acids.
The verdict: This amber-hued oil smooths easily over the skin, making it extremely easy to apply over even a third trimester bump like mine. Free from scent it is perfect for those with sensitive skin or for the first trimester, when your sense of smell is heightened. I like the two-step system approach but I especially loved the deep moisturising effect of the oil.
The details: Created by two mothers, Bloom and Blossom’s range is specially made for pregnancy, babies and motherhood. The label’s Anti Stretch Mark Oil is a naturally derived product that contains just eleven key ingredients formulated to help the skin maintain elasticity, improve the appearance of existing stretch marks to and even out skin tone.
The verdict: A clever tapered nozzle makes applying this oil quick and easy. A light, clear oil with with a lovely aromatherapy scent it leaves skin feeling moisturised. I applied it in the evening and my skin still felt soft and nourished the next morning. The perfect oil for every day.
Words by Amanda Woodward-Brown