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TIPS Mission Statement

To educate and inform parents and professionals about best practice in breastfeeding, neonatal skincare/cordcare and other related midwifery subjects.

 
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TIPS-tested belly balms - 2010 Print E-mail

TIPS-tested belly balms - 2010

Only products that comply with our strict criteria can be submitted for a TIPS trial – this is part of our robust selection process explained in the ‘Methodology and criteria’ section below. This means that any product accepted to go through to the testing programme is already a winner.

Over 660 Parent Testers have joined the TIPS online community. When selected for a trial, volunteer Parent Testers receive products to test and are asked to provide their comments using a detailed questionnaire. Testers’ feedback is collated, evaluated and reviewed by Sharon Trotter.

On completion of the judging process, awards are confirmed and the results are published on the TIPS website.

Please note that products tested by TIPS are not free or promotional products, but samples for the sole purpose of independent testing. Only Testers who have agreed and signed a copy of the TIPS Award Scheme terms and conditions can take part in a TIPS trial.




The following 5 awards have been allocated (click on one of the links below to find out more):

Best of the best
Best organic

Best eco-friendly
Editor's choice

Must-have (2)

Highly commended (3)


TIPS to go - download a summary of the awards here


You can also find out more about the testing process in the following sections

Overview

At TIPS, our aim is to source the best products available. Due to requests from testers we have decided to add Belly Balms as a new category to our skincare trials. Though not directly a baby skincare product it could easily come into contact with babies so the same strict criteria was used to source each new product for testing. We hope these results will help to guide you through the array of Belly Balms on the market. Although most of the Testers were pregnant at the start of the trial some Testers went on to test the Belly Balms during the postnatal period. I have deliberately avoided the term anti-stretch mark treatment because there is no evidence to back up the claim that any oil (however natural or organic) can absorb deep enough into the skin’s layers to stop the development of stretch-marks. It does however appear that the appearance of existing stretch marks and old section scars (it is not advisable to use oil directly on an open wound) can be improved by using a quality belly balm.
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Methodology and criteria

30 Testers participated in this trial. They were each sent two samples of Belly Balm from the finalists who made it through the submission process (60 samples in all – ten of each brand).
The updated TIPS criteria states that TIPS will only test skincare products free from:
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)
  • Sodium Laureth Sulphate SLES)
  • Parabens (Methyl, Propyl, Butyl and Ethyl Paraben)
  • Phthalates
  • Triclosan
  • Propylene Glycol (PG)
  • DEA (diethanolamine)
  • MEA (monoethanolamine)
  • TEA (triethanolamine)
  • Methylchloroisothiazolonone (MIT) or Methylisothiazolinone (MIT).

Products may also lose marks if they contain artificial preservatives or perfumes that have the potential to irritate the skin, even if they do not appear on the list of banned ingredients. We are confident that this new criteria has allowed us to select the best belly balms on the market today for this trial.

Award criteria:
  • Best of the best highest scoring product overall.
  • Best organic products certified organic in origin and made to the highest possible standards.
  • Best eco-friendly products manufactured by companies that: include high proportions of natural or organic ingredients in their formulation; ensure that their packaging is recyclable; and have an ethical approach to business that attempts to reduce their overall carbon footprint.
  • Must have products that have been voted by Testers as being particularly useful.
  • Highly commended products with high scores but not best in their category.
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Guidelines

How to test…
Please read the following information before you start testing the belly balms.

Thank you for agreeing to take part in the 2010 TIPS belly balm trial.
I am often asked which skincare products I would recommend. It is not my role to endorse a particular brand so I decided to set up the TIPS trials. It is hoped that this fair and neutral review process will be acknowledged for its independence and impartiality. The TIPS Awards Testing Scheme was launched in March 2007, but this is the first time we have included belly balms in a trial.

The products selection criteria were strict: products containing alcohol, SLS, SLES, triclosan, propylene glycol, artificial perfumes or preservatives (parabens and phthalates) were excluded. The selection criteria are stricter each year (see Appendix 1). This is to make sure that only the very best skincare products are accepted for submission.

Please remember that there are no standards or definitions to regulate the use of terms such as hypoallergenic, suitable for sensitive skin, paediatrician approved and pH balanced. The basic ingredients used in the manufacture of these products are the same as for standard formulations. The only difference is in the marketing literature. This is why the TIPS criteria is so important: we only test products that meet our strict guidelines on safety.

 

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Completing the questionnaire

Pre-filled answers
For each skincare product we have checked:

  • the formulation
  • recyclability of packaging
  • where a product is made (manufacturing in the UK reduces a company’s carbon footprint).

Answers to questions on these topics are pre-filled in your questionnaire.

You will have to answer questions on the following topics:

  • Design of product – did you enjoy the graphics?
  • Information on product and online: does the manufacturer include a full list of ingredients online and on pack? Does the manufacturer give advice on using water-only for the first month in their marketing literature?
  • Scent: does the product smell fresh or is it unpleasant? In order to be safe products should have minimal perfumes (preferably natural or organic in origin).
  • Ease of use: is the product easy to dispense and easy to apply? Does it absorb into the skin without any stickiness or leaving any residue behind?
  • Price: by calculating the RRP of each product then dividing it by the volume we get a cost per ml. This information is provided for each product but will not form part of the overall score. However this will give a good idea of cost-effectiveness although a little can go a long way so price may not be as important as you think.
  • Adverse reactions: did you notice any adverse reactions when using this product (this may include rashes, spots or red areas caused by the product you are testing).
  • Feedback: tell us about your favourite features, suggestions for modifications, and whether you would recommend this product
  • Awards: you will be able to suggest an award from our recommended list


Conclusion
As you can see, there are many aspects of design and formulation to assess when testing this seemingly simple product. A well-designed belly balm will fulfil all the needs of pregnant mums-to-be and should:

  • list all ingredients and ideally explain why these ingredients have been used – this information should be on-pack and online
  • provide consumers with the latest advice
  • be safe and gentle, even on delicate skin
  • not include harsh ingredients or unnecessary additives
  • be made from bio-degradable materials, and
  • be sold in recyclable packaging.

This can only be achieved when manufacturers pay close attention to detail at all stages of the manufacturing process.
I hope you will find these guidelines useful when testing these belly balms.

Thank you again for all your hard work. You can be sure that your independent testing and comments will help to give parents the best and most unbiased advice available.
Kindest regards
Sharon Trotter - Founder and Director of TIPS Ltd

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Reviews

Nothing Nasty Big Belly Pregnancy Moisturiser
RRP: £23.50 for 100mls
Price per ml:23.5p
Supplied and manufactured by www.nothingnasty.com
Award: Best of the best

Nothing Nasty is the brainchild of Elin Ross Pedersen. Based in Wales, this small family-run business prides itself on the fact that all products are handmade in small batches.

It is clear that each stage of the manufacturing process is carefully planned to be as environmentally friendly as possible, from the choice of high quality formulations through to the use of recycled material for the packaging. Testers were unanimous in their praise for this beautiful product. The organic essential oils give Nothing Nasty Big Belly Pregnancy Moisturiser its subtle scent of rose and chamomile.

Testers agree that as well as being light and easy to apply, this product ‘miraculously manages’ to be non-greasy. Nasty Big Belly Pregnancy Moisturiser soothes dry skin instantly, leaving mums-to-be feeling relaxed and silky smooth.

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Shea Mooti Mama's Belly Rub Stretch Mark Oil

Tested February 2012

RRP: £14.99 for 100mls
Price per ml:14.9p
Supplied and manufactured bywww.sheamooti.co.uk
Award: Editor's choice

 

The name "Shea Mooti" came about because Violet used ethically-sourced Shea Butter from AfriKids’ Daughters, a multi-cooperative in northern Ghana, to create her initial range of products. ‘Mooti’ comes from ‘Muti’ meaning ‘tree’ in Shona – the language of Violet's native Zimbabwe.

The Shea Mooti range includes a gorgeous hand-made soap (we tested this as a baby wash, and you can read the reviews in the TIPS Awards section of this website), the aptly named Mama’s Everything Body Balm (we tested this as a nappy balm, and you can read the reviews in the TIPS Awards section of this website) and Mama’s soothing Leg and Foot cream.

Testers really enjoyed using this non-greasy belly balm. Even Mums who were super sensitive to smells during pregnancy especially liked the pleasant scent. Testers found the oil was easy to apply and the positive effects lasted well between applications. It left their skin feeling supple, smooth and soft to the touch. What more could a pregnant tummy ask for? 

This is what some of the Testers said:

  • I was concerned that too much would come out but the squeezy bottle works great.
  • I love the smell of this product, it is very relaxing.
  • I feel this oil is far more nourishing than any other stretch mark oil I have tried.

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Essential Care organic Bump Butter
RRP: £22 for 175gms
Price per ml:12.57p
Supplied and manufactured by www.essential-care.co.uk
Award: Best Organic

 


Motivated by the lack of products suitable for her own and her family's very sensitive and eczema-prone skin, founder Margaret set about creating effective formulations. Essential Care products contain only organic herbs (certified 100% organic by the Soil Association), plant oils and natural active ingredients compatible with the most sensitive skin. With over 25 years’ experience in aromatherapy and natural medicine, this small family company makes all its products by hand in England.

Although the butter seems firm in the tub, Testers found it absorbed well and left their skin moisturised after just one application. A little of this butter goes a long way, and Testers were impressed by how cost-effective the product was. Testers agreed that the planned new packaging was a welcome addition to this range of quality of products which can be trusted to provide excellent skincare treatments.

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Weleda Stretch Mark Massage Oil
RRP: £12.95 for 100mls
Price per ml: 12.95p
Supplied and manufactured by www.weleda.co.uk
Award: Must-have


Manufactured to the highest standards using naturally sourced raw materials and organic essential oils, this pregnancy oil was a favourite with our pregnant Testers. The extensive Weleda range is produced by a company with ethical and environmentally-friendly credentials that are second to none.
The information on pack and online is excellent. It follows the latest guidelines published by National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) and by the Department of Health. Testers said the product was easy to use and absorbed immediately. They liked its ‘gorgeous’ scent. Testers were impressed that the oil contains arnica, which is a natural anti-inflammatory. Testers suggested awarding this excellent product a ‘must-have’ to show how much they had enjoyed using this soothing oil.

You can find out more about this product here....

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Baby Stella’s Butter (tested as a belly balm)

Tested Mach 2014

Available in four varieties: Bare Natural (no essential oils), Sweet Orange, Lavender Dream and Patchouli & Lime

RRP: £10 for 100mls
Price per ml: 5p
Supplied and manufactured by www.mamastella.com

Available from Mama Stella's ebay shop
Award: Must-have


Following the birth of her first child in 2011, Mama Stella’s founder struggled to find an affordable and completely natural product to use on her baby. So she went back to basics, searched her pantry and started mixing oils and shea butters in her kitchen. She wanted to make a product that was 100% natural. The result was Baby Stella’s Butter which quickly became popular with friends and family. Initially designed for young skin, this product soon became equally popular with adults who appreciated its high-quality ingredients and refreshingly reasonable price. Mama Stella uses carefully-sourced raw and unrefined grade A shea butter which is known to be good for all skin types. This is complemented by premium plant oils and pure essential oils carefully balanced to maximise the nutrients and vitamins in the butter. The product is manufactured in the UK, which reduces its carbon footprint. The packaging is recyclable making it eco-friendly too.
Our Parent Testers were between 20 and 37 weeks pregnant. They used Baby Stella’s Butter for as little as a couple of days and up to 3 weeks. We asked participants to use the product just on one side of their tummy to allow them to better see the effect of the product on their skin. One Tester’s midwife actually noticed the difference and commented on this, which is very encouraging. Participants loved the texture of this butter and the way it absorbed quickly into their tummy, covering large areas easily. They were pleased that the product didn't cause any greasy staining on their clothes.
Baby Stella’s Butter is a great all-rounder. It worked well as a belly balm, and we also tested it as an ointment. It really can be used in a wide variety of ways! In fact our Parent Testers were so impressed we have decided to award Baby Stella’s Butter a Must-have TIPS Award in the Belly balm and Ointment categories.

This is what some of the Testers said:

  • It was easy to apply due to the shape of the tub, so you can scoop out as much or little as you wish.
  • I also applied the butter to areas of dry skin on my arms, and saw instant results.
  • My favourite feature was how easily the product just melts into the skin. Skin feels instantly moisturised, and stays moisturised.
  • It exceeded my expectations in terms of its initial greasiness as it didn't leave my clothes stained, its texture was divine and easy to apply to large areas

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Vital Touch Natalia – Prenatal Anti-Stretch Butter
RRP: £12 for 60mls
Price per ml: 20p
Supplied and manufactured by www.vitaltouch.com
Award: Best eco-friendly


Founded by Katie Whitehouse, who specialises in pregnancy, birth and baby massage Vital Touch offers two complementary brands; Natalia and Pure Oils which are manufactured and hand blended in Devon using 100% natural and organic ingredients.
Ideal for those who prefer body butter rather than oils this delightful blend of shea butter, avocado oil and rosehip seed oil with Essential oils of lavender, mandarin, neroli and frankincense helps to improve the look of stretch marks and scar tissue. Testers used this during pregnancy and into the postnatal period. It was suggested that a wider pot or spatula might help with dispensing the butter. Testers commented that their tummy felt smoother and noticeably softer after use although they did admit they needed to ‘work’ the product in their hands prior to application.

The use of raw materials that are ethically and sustainably grown, packaging from recycled, recyclable or reusable materials and environmentally friendly credentials all help to make this brand a worthy winner of our Best-eco-friendly award.

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Beginning supporting belly balm

RRP: £15 for 60gms
Price per gm: 25p
Supplied and manufactured by www.maclarenbaby.com
Award: Highly commended


This product is part of a new range of mother and baby skincare products from the Maclaren brand. They have worked in collaboration with an expert in aromatherapy to provide a range of products using organic-based formulations with added essential oils.

Testers found this cream easy to apply. Its consistency is somewhere between the bump butters and pregnancy oil. The scent was pleasant but not overpowering. Many Testers found the wooden spatula supplied with the product very useful when dispensing this belly balm. One Tester suggested making Beginning supporting belly balm available in a smaller tub. This would let Mums on a budget test it out first.

Overall Beginning supporting belly balm is a well thought-out high quality product.

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MamaBabyBliss Tummy Love pregnancy Oil
RRP: £12.50 for 100mls
Price per ml: 12.5p
Supplied and manufactured by www.mamababybliss.co.uk
Award: Highly commended

Tummy Love pregnancy oil is a blend of calendula, sunflower, jojoba, rosehip, starflower and peach kernel oils, with vitamins E and A. The MamaBabyBliss range of products for mother and baby is based on natural formulations that are free from mineral oils, sulphates (SLS/SLES) and parabens.

Testers found this oil easy to use. One Mum especially liked the clever dropper which allowed her to dispense the exact amount of the oil she needed. Testers praised the ‘girly packaging’ which made them feel like they were being pampered - especially at a time when they ‘felt like a whale!’

The use of recycled glass, environmentally friendly packaging and the excellent online advice was also praised by Testers.

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JĀSÖN Extra Strength Vitamin E Oil 32000iu

Tested Mach 2014
Also available in other strengths (5000iu, 14000iu and 45000iu)

RRP: £8.99 for 30mls 
Price per ml: 30p
Supplied and manufactured by www.jasonnaturalcare.co.uk
Award: Highly commended

Founded in California in 1959, JĀSÖN create beauty and personal care products for the whole family. They want to produce everyday wholesome products that really work at a price that everyone can afford. JĀSÖN means 'healer' in Greek. This is reflected in the therapeutic blends JĀSÖN use in their formulas, all crafted according to their Code of Honour:

  • select safe, wholesome, natural ingredients
  • rigorously test every formula to ensure safety and efficacy
  • never test on animals
  • constantly innovate and improve

We have already tested the JĀSÖN Earth’s Best nappy cream, baby lotion, shampoo and body wash. So when JĀSÖN asked that we trial their extra strength Vitamin E Oil we were initially unsure what category this product should come under. Having considered the different uses for this product, we tested as a belly balm, (antenatal and postnatally) and as an ointment. Testers' reviews allowed us to assess the effectiveness of this product at reducing the impact of stretch marks, softening the area around section scars, making scars less visible, or helping to treat dry skin conditions.
Parent Testers said the JĀSÖN Extra Strength Vitamin E Oil was thicker than other oils and quite sticky. However they thought the applicator was really useful. Participants came up with a surprising range of uses for this innovative wee pot of oil (this may be because it is high in antioxidants).

Our Parent testers used the JĀSÖN Extra Strength Vitamin E Oil on their pregnant bump, previous stretch marks, section scars, burns, and even as a night face cream. Although the reviews didn't describe a marked reduction in the appearance of scars or stretch marks, participants agreed their skin felt appreciably softer. It should also be noted that the product proved especially good at treating a chronic case of facial dermatitis.

This oil was tested as a belly balm ante-natally
Our Parent Testers were between 20 and 37 weeks pregnant. They used JĀSÖN Extra Strength Vitamin E Oil for at least two weeks before completing their questionnaires. We asked participants to use the product just on one side of their tummy to allow them to better see the effect of the product on their skin.
This is what some of the Testers said:

  • I love the integral applicator/wand which makes application targeted and less messy. However the applicator didn't reach to the corners when the bottle was nearly empty.
  • It exceeded my expectations in that I didn't have a reaction to it and I have sensitive skin.
  • My favourite feature was the results on my face. Waking up in the morning looking like my face had been rehydrated.
  • It was good for moisturising and smoothing skin, making it noticeably soft.

This oil was also tested as a belly balm post-natally
Our Parent Testers used the JĀSÖN Extra Strength Vitamin E Oil for at least two weeks before completing their questionnaires.

This is what some of the Testers said:

  • It left my section scar looking less visible and smoother to touch – it also appears less red
  • My favourite feature is how moisturising it is on my tummy and how it left my skin soft
  • I would buy it instead of my usual brand cause it works better and doesn't cost much more
  • It still felt like it was moisturising hours after applied as soaks into skin gradually

JĀSÖN Extra Strength Vitamin E Oil is a great all-rounder and it worked just as well as a belly balm (antenatally and postnatally) as it did as an ointment. It really can be used as an effective face cream for stubborn skin conditions. It could have scored more highly if it had not been formulated with the synthetic version of Vitamin E. However, due to the positive results of this trial we are delighted to award JĀSÖN Extra Strength Vitamin E Oil a Highly commended TIPS Award in the Belly balm and Ointment categories.

 


Please note that products tested by TIPS are not free or promotional products, but samples for the sole purpose of independent testing. All Testers must agree and sign a copy of the TIPS Award Scheme terms and conditions before taking part in a TIPS trial.


Disclaimer. TIPS Ltd is not responsible or liable for any failings of products that have been submitted for the testing programme. The responsibility remains with the individual manufacturer. Research is constantly changing and whilst every effort is made by TIPS Ltd to ensure the information contained in the guidelines is accurate and up-to-date, parent testers must still be encouraged to seek the advice of their midwife, health visitor, lactation consultant or GP if they have any concerns.

TIPS Ltd© 2010

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Nothing Nasty Big Belly Pregnancy Moisturiser
AW_best-of-the-best_belly-balmNothing-Nasty-Big-Belly-Pregnancy-Moisturiser

nothing-nasty-logo


Shea Mooti Mama's Belly Rub Stretch Mark Oil (RT)
award graphic product photo

logo


Essential Care organic Bump Butter
AW_best-organic_belly-balmessential Care logo

essential-care-bump-butter


Vital Touch Natalia – Prenatal Anti-Stretch Butter
AW_best-eco-friendly_belly-balmvital-touch-logo

vt-antistretch-butter


Weleda Stretch Mark Massage Oil
AW_must-have_belly-balmWeleda-pregnancy-oil

weleda logo blue


Baby Stella’s Butter (RT)
AW must-have belly-balmmamaStella-logo
MamaStella-product

Beginning supporting belly balm
AW_highly-commended_belly-balmbeginning belly-balm

beginning-logo


MamaBabyBliss Tummy Love pregnancy Oil
award graphicMamaBabyBliss Tummy Love pregnancy oil

mamababybliss logo


JĀSÖN Extra Strength Vitamin E Oil 32000iu (RT)
AW highly-commended belly-balmproduct
logo

References:
  • Trotter S (2008). Baby care – back to basics™ leaflet. TIPS Limited, Scotland
  • Trotter S (2008). Neonatal skin & cordcare - the way forward. Nursing in Practice
  • (January/February) Number 40 - (Dermatology): 40-45.
  • Trotter S (2008). Neonatal skincare and cordcare – implications for practice. In: Examination of the newborn and neonatal health – a multidimentional approach. Churchill Livingstone, Elsevier Worldwide, Chapter14.


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