I’ve been off the grid for a few days and when I returned and checked my messages, there seemed to be a theme. It seemed last week everyone was getting ready for poolside 4th of July cook-outs because many people were searching for a quick-fix to reduce the appearance of cellulite. That’s why his week’s Blondeshell Beauty Tip is all about cellulite.
Cellulite is the cause of “bathing suit anxiety” for so many women. In fact, last week, I celebrated my 27th birthday with a small get together at my pool. Emphasis on the word small. For the most part, I’m a confident person, but I only invited a few people to celebrate with me. I needed to be in a judgment free zone. That’s because I’m one of the nearly 90% of women that struggles with cellulite, and putting my thighs on display like that doesn’t necessarily give me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
First, the bad news: Getting rid of cellulite isn’t easy. In fact, it’s nearly impossible. Now that we’ve dealt with the cold, hard truth, we can move on. The good news? There are several things you can do to minimize its appearance. In this post, I’ve got some helpful info including the (very) simplified science, and a handful of tips to help reduce the appearance of cellulite. From the ones you don’t want to hear (*ahem* diet and exercise) to tips you that will make you say, “whaaaa?” but really work, I’ve got plenty. So, keep reading for some tips to help you find your inner beach babe.
What is Cellulite?
Before we start, we need to understand what cellulite is. Cellulite: That evil thing that makes our butts, thighs, and tummies look like cottage cheese. It’s the cause of bumpy behinds all over the world, and during the summer, it can be quite the blow to our self-esteem.
Simply put, cellulite is a condition where fat deposits push against connective tissues under the skin, causing the skin to appear dimpled or puckered. Many doctors compare cellulite to tufted upholstery on a couch. (You know, the kind with the buttons that pull the cushion in to the center?) In both men and women, fat is attached to the skin by bands called septae. For women, the septae pull directly downward, much like a button on a tufted couch cushion.
What Causes Cellulite?
The #1 risk factor for cellulite is gender. While some men are affected, cellulite is much more common in women. That’s because in males, the septae pulls at an angle, helping to disguise the fat deposits. Not to mention, men have thicker skin than women, which means the cellulite is much more difficult to see. So, add that to the list of “reasons it’s great to be a woman”! (I hope you can read my eyes rolling…)
Many people think cellulite is a side effect of being overweight, but even the thinnest people can suffer from cellulite. However, if you have cellulite and you’re overweight, diet and exercise may help greatly.
Other risk factors/aggravators include poor or fad dieting, lack of exercise, hormonal changes (which is why cellulite occurs after puberty), dehydration, as well as the thickness and color of your skin.
Now that we know what cellulite is, and what causes it, let’s look at what we can do to treat it.
How to Treat Cellulite
Weight Loss: Remember how I said I’d be sharing tips that you probably don’t care to hear? Well, here we go. It makes sense that weight loss may improve the appearance of cellulite since it’s caused by fat deposits. However, it really depends on your skin’s elasticity. If you have very elastic (usually young) skin that can bounce back quickly, then you’re in luck, and weight loss may solve your cellulite problems. If your skin isn’t as resilient (thanks to aging and hormonal changes), then losing weight can result in loose, saggy skin, and may only make the appearance of cellulite worse.
Also, the rate at which you lose weight can affect your skin’s ability to recover. The faster you lose weight, the harder it is for your skin to catch up. When I went through my weight loss, I lost almost 130 lbs. over two years. Because I did so gradually, and while I was still young, my skin recovered fairly quickly. Of course, I do have some areas of loose skin that I’ll need to have surgically removed (mainly on my thighs), but for the most part, my skin bounced back. So, if you’re going to lose weight, be sure to do so at a healthy pace, and don’t make any drastic changes to your diet that will cause your weight to yo-yo.
Hydrate: If you’re not drinking enough water, then there’s a multitude of issues that you’ll likely solve by upping your water intake. But don’t think you have to guzzle eight 8 ounce glasses a day to meet you water goals. Be sure to eat plenty of water-rich fruits and veggies (like apples, spinach, cucumbers, watermelons, zucchini, etc.) to give your skin cells the H2O it needs to retain a healthy structure. By properly hydrating, you’re helping to even out the skin’s surface, making the cellulite underneath look less severe.
Kim Kardashian’s cellulite is edited out during the photo retouching process.
Targeted Exercises: Did you know that the average woman loses 5 pounds of muscle and gains around 15 pounds of fat each decade past the age 20? Since fat is considerably softer than muscle, it doesn’t help keep skin tight, resulting in the cellulite bulges you see. That’s why the more toned you are, the less cellulite you’ll see. Check out this article for some helpful cellulite reducing exercises.
Dry Brushing: If you aren’t dry brushing yet, you should be. Not only are you guaranteed smoother butts, thighs, and hips with this technique, you’re also boosting circulation and ridding your body of harmful toxins. I wrote a post about the benefits of dry brushing as well as a post about how-to dry brush, where I went into detail about how dry brushing helps reduce cellulite, so check it out and be sure to add this technique to your daily routine.
Professional Treatments: If you’ve got money to blow, then there are plenty of long-lasting solutions for you. One specific treatment called “Endermologie®”, available at most medi-spas, kneads the skin with a suctioned rolling device. This treatment helps boost circulation and promote collagen production. Don’t expect a drastic change, but rather a subtle, but noticeable difference. You’ll need six or more sessions (costing $50-$150 each time) to really have an effect. If you’re looking to drop some big bucks for serious results, then consider radio-frequency and laser treatments that can set you back anywhere from $300-$500 each session. Keep in mind that although these treatments may be effective at reducing the appearance, they do not remove cellulite, so the results are only temporary.
Creams and Lotions: For an easy, short-term solution, a product with caffeine or a vitamin A derivative like retinol may be your best bet. Caffeine will temporarily tighten skin while vitamin A derivatives will thicken the skin’s outermost layer, making the bulges smoother. Oftentimes, these ingredients are used with gingko or vitamin C, which improve circulation. Although the price is pretty high for a cream, something like Murad Firm & Tone Serum ($78) will work well, and it’s much more affordable than the professional treatments. Unfortunately, according to this WebMD article, any improvement resulting from the use of creams and lotions is “likely to be temporary and minor.”
Self-Tanner: As I mentioned, the color of your skin plays a large part in how severe cellulite appears. The darker the skin, the easier it is to hide cellulite. On the contrary, if you are very pale, even the smallest amount of cellulite can make you feel like a beached whale. So even though self-tanners won’t get rid of cellulite, it can give you just the right amount of confidence you need to bare your skin for a day at the beach.
Whether you spray tan, or use a self-tanner at home, it doesn’t matter. Just don’t go to the tanning bed! If you’re going to bake at a salon, then you need to be more worried about skin cancer than you should be cellulite.
Another reason not to go to the tanning bed: The harmful UV rays you’re exposing yourself to will break down the natural collagen you have remaining, making your skin much weaker. And you guessed it: It will only make your cellulite look worse.
If you’re not sure which self-tanners to use, I highly recommend my favorite sunless tanner, TARTE Brazilliance™ Self Tanner, which is ideal for girls with very light skin. Check out my video blog about this tanner here. If you have an olive complexion, then something like St. Tropez Self Tanning Bronzing Mousse will work well.
Vitamins and Supplements: Adding certain vitamins or supplements to your diet may help reduce the appearance of cellulite. For instance, kelp contains fucoxanthin, which has been proven to help burn body fat. Research shows that by eating kelp, one may experience a 5-10% extra reduction in weight, in turn, reducing the appearance of cellulite. Another effective supplement worth trying is called Gotu Kola, one of the only herbs studied that had positive results in reducing cellulite. Gotu kola extract has been proven to improve the elasticity and thickness of skin, allowing the cellulite below to appear less severe. You can find both of these at many health food stores.
So, there you have it. I hope if your confidence suffers from cellulite, give some of these a try, and remember… the majority of women feel your pain. So just hold your head high, be confident, don’t let cellulite get in the way of your “happy”, and next year don’t avoid bathing suit shopping like the Black Plague.
Have you tried any of these methods? If so, have you experienced a noticeable difference? Share with me in the comment section below!