The very moment those two pink lines appear, our bodies become not-so-private property, subject to unwelcomed touches, mandatory measurements, and well-intentioned policing. It can feel like a lot, especially given the many wild cards that pregnancy tends to deal us — the storied stretch marks, the dark spots (and stripes!) that seem to bloom overnight, the ashy limbs and bloated feet, the drenching perspiration and resulting… parfum.
These changes can be unnerving, but they’re entirely normal and almost always propelled by seesawing hormones during and after pregnancy. (That signature scent, for instance, can be triggered by hot flashes associated with a drop in estrogen postpartum, explains OB-GYN Dr. Kiarra King.) In all honesty, there’s not much you can do to prevent your collagen fibers from tearing as your skin expands or to stop your melanocytes from spitting out pigment, but there are small steps you can take “to help your body weather the changes of pregnancy,” says dermatologist Dr. Anna Karp. Leaning into the palliative power of moisturizer is a good place to start.
While pregnancy can, at times, feel very clinical — the whole process, more medical than miracle — it’s important to preserve a sense of self-intimacy when expecting. Here’s hoping these beloved body potions — we’ve got every imaginable iteration — encourage you to embrace (polish, hydrate, and illuminate) your ever-evolving form for the marvel that it is.
We at Romper only include products that have been independently selected by our editors. We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
Best Body Lotion
Handcrafted in small batches, with shea butter sourced directly from the Katariga Women’s Shea Cooperative in Ghana, this panacean salve melts into skin, lacing it with notes of amber and vanilla. “I slathered my body with this dreamy-smelling shea butter during the day,” says beauty editor and Romper contributor Carly Cardellino. Unlike the pure oils she routinely applied at night, the rich butter didn’t threaten to stain her clothes — yet, in her experience, it was still “super moisturizing for stretched skin.”
Best Body Cream
Elevating the banal task of moisturizing to an intimate ritual, this waterless concentrate blends nourishing cocoa butter with sweet almond, apricot kernel, avocado, and fractionated coconut to deliver unparalleled hydration and a pretty sheen. Warming the bar in your hands unlocks the subtly spicy scent of rose, frankincense, and neroli essential oils, conjuring an open-air market in Marrakesh. Aya Kanai, a former fashion editor and the head of editorial and creative for Google Shopping, deems it “a wonderful alternative to regular moisturizer” — giving it points for both form and function: “It comes in a pretty bamboo box and, because it’s water-free, it lasts a very long time,” she says.
Best Foot Cream
A best-kept secret among cosmopolitan moms, this thick, sole-burnishing formula combines callous-busting urea with milk peptides and humectant honey, to leave feet impossibly soft. “Marcela Correa, who gives the most incredible medical pedicure at Medi Pedi NYC, tells all her clients to put it on after the shower so it absorbs completely,” says beauty editor and brand consultant Jamie Rosen. “It has helped my heels so much — and its light fragrance is pleasant and unobtrusive, making it ideal for pregnancy.” Kathy Lee, editor-in-chief of TZR, calls it “a life-changer — especially if you have a new little one to chase after,” and attests to the cream’s remarkable ability to “extend your pedicure during summer — or any time of year, really.” (FYI, King flagged farnesol in this formula, noting that the naturally occurring plant alcohol “can be highly allergenic for some,” so you may want to do a patch test before smearing it all over.)
Best Belly Cream
Our mom hive adores the cast of hydators — 99% hailing from nature — in this non-sticky concoction, crediting the coconut-oil-and-shea-butter blend with everything from staving off stretch marks to comforting taut skin in pregnancy and beyond. “One of my friends gave me this when I got pregnant and I loved it,” says Tina Kolokathis, executive editor at Elite Daily. “It keeps my skin hydrated, smooth, and radiant without any overpowering fragrances.”
Best Belly Mask
Baby’s first sheet mask! From Ariane Goldman, the design-minded mom reinventing maternity wear at Hatch, comes this playful (and utterly Instagrammable) sheet mask for burgeoning bellies. Soaked in aloe vera, antioxidant-packed propolis, and moisturizing marine collagen, the biodegradable sheet provides full coverage, soothing and swaddling bumps of all sizes. “Towards the end of my pregnancy, my belly was so itchy — this mask provided immediate relief,” says Sunnie Brook, a celebrity hairstylist and founder of the home goods company Mirohaus. In the spirit of slow beauty, “the sheet also forces you to stop what you’re doing and take time for yourself,” adds Kanai. Store it in the fridge to boost the cool factor.
Best Body Scrub
Lychee seed and volcanic pumice may be the ultimate odd couple of exfoliation — yet their unexpected union somehow epitomizes refinement. “There are so many great things to say about this body scrub,” says beauty editor Janell M. Hickman-Kirby. For starters, “it effortlessly sloughs off dry skin without feeling scratchy or harsh.” (She found it to be gentle enough to use on her back and belly throughout pregnancy.) Echoing her sentiment, Kanai puts the scrub’s buffing power “at a level where you can feel it working, but definitely not too rough.” Our nominators raved about the polish’s subdued sea-inspired scent and the moisture imparted by cannabis sativa and kukui seed oils. (Note: Though cannabis sativa oil is federally legal and commonly used in skin care for its moisture-boosting capabilities, there have not been any studies done on its effect on pregnant women.)
Best Body Wash
This recommendation from BDG lifestyle features editor Kat Stoeffel had us sold: “It has this really brisk, woodsy scent that makes my sad dingy bathroom feel like an outdoor shower.” Who doesn’t want that? The organic soap yields generous piles of fluffy lather and leaves skin refreshed and sated, never stripped, thanks to its mix of plant oils (coconut, olive, sunflower), conditioning guar, and balmy shea butter. “I once accidentally used it on my baby, and while he found [the Cathedral Grove scent] terrifyingly intense, I felt better knowing the product is so clean it’s practically edible,” Stoeffel says. Adds Romper senior editor Anne Vorrasi, “It genuinely felt like it was cleaning my skin — like it was actually cleansing my body as opposed to leaving a film of who-knows-what behind.”
Best Body Serum
While it may seem almost naughtily luxe to smear a hyaluronic acid serum from head to toe, our nominators assure us the experience is as nice as it gets. “While I was breastfeeding, my skin was so dry,” Brook says. “Hyaluronic acid is one of my favorite ingredients for maintaining moisture, so I’d apply this and then layer my favorite oils over the top. Since it’s fragrance-free, I could slather it everywhere and not smell like a perfume store.” Jessica Richards of Shen Beauty reported it to be “a fantastic product for sensitive skin, especially going into the summer months, when you want something a bit lighter but with extra hydration.” The vegan-friendly formula also packs niacinamide and ceramides to nurse depleted barriers.
Best Body Oil
Newly minted mom and NYC plastic surgeon Dr. Umbareen Mahmood leaned on this iconic oil throughout her pregnancy to moisturize her skin and keep it supple. (It gets the job done with antioxidant-rife sunflower seed, pomegranate seed, and lavender oils.) While she admits that “it can’t magically erase stretch marks” — spoiler: nothing can — she explains that “it can help protect the skin to minimize them,” making those pregnancy souvenirs easier to embrace.
We don’t tolerate fear-mongering at Romper, so let’s first dispel the myth that traditional antiperspirant is somehow “toxic.” There is “no evidence to suggest aluminum is risky,” says Karp, adding that “antiperspirants, on the whole, are safe, with not much being absorbed into the skin.” (To clarify: Antiperspirants reduce perspiration, while deodorants mask odors.) To those who’ve come to rely on these sweat-stoppers, our experts say carry on. If you’re looking for an alternative, this deo gets multiple thumbs up from our nominating committee. Plant-based starches in the stick help to keep pits dry while magnesium hydroxide fights stinky bacteria. “Even though it’s not an antiperspirant, I never found myself dripping with sweat, which is saying something, considering I sweated from everywhere throughout my pregnancy,” says Kaitlin Cubria, deputy lifestyle, fashion, and beauty editor at Elite Daily. While she confesses that her underarm odor was extra-pungent during pregnancy, she says this naturally-derived coconut-and-vanilla scent masked it beautifully.
Best Hand Lotion
“Hand cream is one of the things you need after pregnancy,” insists Cardellino, because your hands will inevitably crack from the incessant hand-washing (“you will change so many diapers!”) and around-the-clock bottle-rinsing that comes with the newborn territory. With a mangosteen-butter base — spiked with coconut, candlenut, and buriti oils — this indulgent cream rescues raw, hard-working hands. But honestly, what keeps us coming back is the scent — which is totally giving umbrella drinks and white-sand beaches.
Contains natural fragrance/parfum*
Best Body SPF
With 20% zinc oxide, this broad-spectrum block requires a little elbow grease to rub in, especially on darker skin tones, but moisturizing coconut oil and shea butter lend a feel-good quality to the application process. The block is remarkably durable — wearing well despite splash fights and clingy hands — yet gentle enough for bigs and littles alike. Especially impressive is the tropical scent, derived from actual coconut, since the formula is technically fragrance-free (i.e. void of potentially irksome perfumes).
*For a full explanation of any ingredients we’ve noted, click here.
Photographer: Graydon Herriott
Art Director: Shanelle Infante
Set Stylist: Amy Elise Wilson