If you have cellulite — those lumpy, bumpy, dimply areas of skin that often resemble cottage cheese or orange rinds — you’re not alone. Nearly nine out of 10 women have some degree of cellulite on their thighs, buttocks, bellies and arms. Today, women spend upwards of $12 million a year on anti-cellulite treatments ranging from fancy creams to risky surgery. With so many products and procedures out there, it’s downright dizzying to try and figure out what really works.
What exactly is cellulite? Cellulite occurs when pockets of fat push up against connective tissue underneath the skin. Hormones, lack of exercise, and diet all contribute to the formation of cellulite. This bane of many women’s existence is seen much less frequently in men. That’s because female skin tissue is thinner and less porous; therefore, when fat cells push up, they’re more noticeable.
While there is no known cure to completely banish cellulite, there are ways to help minimize its appearance, so you can don your bathing suit and head to the beach with confidence.
Secret Weapons to Fight Cellulite
Cellulite and Diet
Avoid Too Much Salt and Sugar
By eating a healthy diet, you can help reduce cellulite. First, avoid too much sugar, which gets stored in fat cells and causes them to expand. Second, limit salt intake, since sodium causes fluid retention, making cellulite appear even worse. Consume no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar each day, and stay away from foods containing more than 200 mg of sodium.
Sprinkle Flaxseed on Your Breakfast
Flaxseed supports estrogen levels and boosts collagen growth. Collagen is the main component of connective tissue; by strengthening the skin, it helps reduce the appearance of cellulite. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons each day on oatmeal, cereal and yogurt, or you can eat the seeds alone to prevent the formation of cellulite.
Drink 8-10 Glasses of Water Daily
Water helps flush out toxins that hide in the fat layers beneath the skin and make cellulite lumps even more visible. Drink 8-10 glasses of water every day. Hydration also works to plump the skin and make it look less lumpy.
Kelp contains fucoxanthin, a xanthophyll compound found in green plants with chlorophyll, which helps the body burn fat. Studies show that ingesting kelp can help facilitate a 5-10% loss in body weight, thus reducing the appearance of cellulite. Add kelp to your diet regimen. You can purchase dried kelp for about $7; try adding it to miso soup or crumble it into stir-frys and salads. Or, you can get your kelp in 300 mg capsule form (about $10 a bottle) at your vitamin store.
Gotu Kola Extract
Gotu kola extract has been specifically researched for its benefits in reducing cellulite, and it is one of the few herbs that has been successful in garnering good results. This caffeine-free supplement has relaxing properties, so it is beneficial to take one pill before bedtime daily. Gotu kola extract improves elasticity and thickens the skin, helping minimize the appearance of bumpy cellulite. Gotu kola extract can be found at health food stores.
Cellulite and Topical Creams
This cutting-edge anti-cellulite cream contains the organic compound aminophylline, also used in many inhalable asthma drugs. When applied topically, this compound helps break down fat in cells so it can burn easier. Aminophylline cream, available online for about $40 a bottle, should be applied to the affected area on a daily basis. To supercharge this treatment, add vitamin C, which helps to build collagen. Make sure you get 75 mg of vitamin C each day. One kiwi or a cup of strawberries will do the trick.
Retinol is a form of vitamin A that reduces the presence of free radicals responsible for the breakdown of collagen. Retinol helps maintain skin smoothness and makes cellulite bulges less visible. Look for 100,000 IUs of vitamin A per 2-ounce jar. For best results, use 100% retinol cream with added vitamin A, C and E.
Horse Chestnut Extract
The ingredient aescin, found in horse chestnut extract, is useful for decreasing small pores on the capillary walls and improving blood flow. Creams containing horse chestnut extract also reduce inflammation and fluid build-up and are available at health food stores.
Capri leggings made by Delfin Spa contain a bioceramic material that generates heat and helps break down cellulite cells. Delfin Spa capris and other apparel are available online.
Elastic underwear pinches on the cellulite, exaggerating its appearance. Switch to non-elastic undergarments made of smooth fabric with an invisible edge. You’ll create even pressure on the skin, increase blood flow, and prevent fat from being pushed up and deposited in unwanted areas. Thongs and capri-length undergarments that reach just below the knee are also good choices.
The Truth Behind Top-Selling Cellulite Products
Most anti-cellulite products promise miracles in no time. But how many of these actually deliver? Here’s what you need to know.
Massage devices actually DO work. Here’s why: Cellulite develops because fibrous connective bands between the skin and fat pull the fat to the surface, creating a rippled skin appearance. By creating friction, you can loosen or soften those bands temporarily. Massage helps by stimulating circulation and draining excess fluids. When the fat cells aren’t as “full,” the lumps appear smoothed. Try a massage product with battery-powered rollers.
Diuretic Herbal Supplements
Diuretic herbal supplements DO NOT work. While they may reduce fluid buildup and make fat cells appear smaller for a very brief period of time, you’re basically only getting more expensive urine as they flush through your system. What’s more, these supplements can negatively impact your digestive system and other parts of the body.
Caffeine creams DO work. Caffeine works on the spot by breaking down fat cells, making skin smoother and less lumpy. The caffeine actually dehydrates the area where the cellulite is, tightening and firming the skin for a temporary smooth appearance. When purchasing these products, examine the ingredients, which are always listed in order of concentration. You want to choose a product with about a 5% caffeine concentration. Caffeine creams typically range in price from about $20-$100.
The bottom line: There’s no permanent cure for cellulite, but there are ways to reduce its appearance. Don’t throw your money away on expensive products or treatments. Try one of these affordable, effective secret weapons first.