We’re still not absolutely sure why exactly the human body must endure cellulite. Simply put, cellulite is one way the body stores fat, but scientists and beauty gurus alike debate the precise causes of cellulite’s distinct texture.
What we do know: Our genetics, which we can’t change, determine our tendency towards cellulite. Beyond that, our circulation plays a significant role in how much cellulite we have, which is why staying active—and not smoking—are your best bet against future cellulite.
And this: Whatever your shape—skinny, curvy, hexagonal (just kidding)—you’re more likely to have cellulite than your guy friends—whatever their body fat percentage. Ugh, right? The male body store fat in a cross-hatched pattern while the female body stores it in columns (strange, huh?), which allow fat a more dimpled texture.
This all leaves us with the burning question, is there really an effective treatment for preexisting cellulite?
Well, that depends on what you’re looking for in a fix. There are a number of creams on the market designed to temporarily improve the appearance of cellulite by swelling and contracting superficial tissues, giving skin a smoother look.
Unfortunately, firming creams may come with their drawbacks. For one, many are chock-full of chemicals—including parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrance. Second, watch out for non-vegan ingredients like lanolin (an emollient sourced from sheep’s wool).
Some less-toxic creams boast caffeine as their cellulite-banishing wonder ingredient. Thought to constrict blood vessels for tighter skin, caffeine (and its relative, aminophylline), are also only temporary solutions. If you’re pregnant, avoid caffeinated creams (just as you would coffee). And as far as amnophylline is concerned, best avoid it—whatever your prenatal status. According to the FDA, it may cause allergic reactions—plus, it’s banned in Canada.
For a risk-free temporary cellulite treatment, try rubbing cucumber slices over cellulite-y areas for a few minutes. Their photochemical will tighten collagen, firming the outer layer of skin, giving your bod a smoother appearance.
As far as permanent treatments go, better just forget about it. A cellulite cream cannot change the structure of a fat cell—if only. And beware of liposuction—it can make cellulite look worse!
Popular in alternative wellness circles, dry brushing has been heralded as the perfect chemical-free, inexpensive cellulite smoother. While dry brushing does promote circulation (like a good massage) and may therefore aid lymphatic detoxification, its power over existing cellulite may be minimal. Since good circulation is a good bet against future cellulite, however, dry brushing may be a smart preventative measure. Ditto self-massage.
Good news: cellulite is less noticeable on tanned, well-cared for skin. This does not mean should run to the tanning salon, however! Try a natural self-tanner and keep skin moisturized with organic body oils. Because dry brushing and self-massage promote circulation, they’re excellent, healthy-giving ways to improve to overall glow of your skin, so why not treat yourself and add them to your routine?
Finally, a note on body acceptance. Whether you’re battling scars, stretch marks, cellulite, or any combination of these frustrating beauty banes (most of us have all three!), try to see yourself as a whole person—the way a friend or lover may see you. Sometimes all I see of “me” is acne scars, but I’m gentler on myself when I try to imagine how my best friend might see me—because when I think of her, all I can honestly see is her beauty.
Related: Beauty Secrets – Sunless Tanning
Beauty Secrets – Concealing Age Spots
Beauty Review: Humble + Lavi Skincare
Photos: Susivinh via Flickr, Stacy via Flickr, Juice Beauty