Beauty Tips: How Creams Treat Cellulite

If you have cellulite, and you’ve considered trying one of the popular cellulite creams, get the facts here on their effectiveness in fighting and getting rid of cellulite.

If you sport that dimpled, cottage cheese, orange-peel look from the bottom of your knees to your buttocks, join the legions of women who suffer the same fate. Cellulite also takes up residence in the abdomen and breasts. Clothes often belie what’s underneath, and you can bet that many a size 6 or even size 4 high-couture ensemble hides those stubborn dimpled pockets of fat better known as cellulite.

Cellulite is not the exclusive province of overweight women; thin women are not immune to cellulite. While there is no correlation between body weight and cellulite, there is some correlation between body fat and cellulite. Cellulite occurs in men, but it’s far less common, and it usually appears in the abdomen and neck regions. Some estimates claim that 90% of women have some problem with cellulite during or after puberty. Cellulite practices no discrimination; it affects all groups of women equally.

What is cellulite?

Localized lipodystrophy, the proper medical term for cellulite, refers to subcutaneous body fat—body fat that resides just beneath the skin’s surface. Think of fat cells as little round packets floating under the skin. The connective tissue between the packets of fat hardens and forms fibrous lumps of fat. Those connective fibrous lumps of fat comprise the dimples and lumps we commonly call cellulite.

The data shows that cellulite tends to increase as we age, and it may be linked to hormonal changes, especially those occurring during pregnancy. The accumulation of toxins may also play some role in the formulation of cellulite, but the scientific data is inconclusive. Unfortunately, the scientific community has yet to reach a consensus on the cause, prevention or cure of cellulite. They do agree on a few facts, among them that while diet and exercise reduce overall body fat, it doesn’t banish cellulite.

If you’re one of the lucky few with no visible characteristics of cellulite, pinch yourself—specifically, pinch your thigh. If you see the lumps and dimples that most of us see without any manipulation of the skin, you’ve got it—you’ve got cellulite!

Do creams work?

If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably tried everything imaginable and a few unimaginable cellulite remedies of your own. You might as well get the bad news up front: creams do not offer an effective, long-term cure for cellulite. All the empirical data supports that conclusion. Creams may offer some degree of temporary relief in the appearance of cellulite. Some creams claim to emulsify the cellulite, but there’s no scientific data whatsoever to support that claim or to support the leap required to conclude that emulsification leads to elimination of cellulite. There is no cream available today that permanently eliminates cellulite; their proof of efficacy is nonexistent.

Cellulite creams may offer another advantage. When massaged into the skin properly, they may improve blood circulation and lymphatic drainage. This type of therapy may provide “temporary reduction in the appearance of cellulite”—a phrase approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for some cellulite treatments—but the appearance of cellulite returns as soon as regular massage is abandoned. Even temporary results appear more dramatic when a trained massage therapist performs deep tissue massage, something few of us are capable of self-administering. Many of the creams claiming to eliminate cellulite may improve skin tone, but short of liposuction or surgical removal of cellulite, nothing rids the body of cellulite. The operative phrase is “the appearance of cellulite!” Remember that some women appear to be free of cellulite until they perform the pinch test.

Curiously, the active ingredients, the ingredients responsible for causing the stated effect of the product, vary from product to product. Few products contain the same active ingredients. The range of active ingredients is overwhelming, if not humorous:

• Over 40 different botanicals

• Caffeine

• Vitamins and minerals

• Over 30 different emollients

• Aminophylline – a prescription bronchodilator used to treat asthma and other respiratory diseases

• Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), such as Retinol

The “active ingredient” appearing most frequently in cellulite creams is caffeine. One of the two studies conducted on caffeine’s efficacy in treating cellulite was conducted by the parent company of the very companies that produce the cellulite creams, but these studies drew no conclusion on how caffeine fights cellulite.

Beware of the claims. The more expensive the lotion or potion, the more outrageous the claim; for example, one $100+ lotion claims to “dissolve body fat on contact!” If you read further down the advertisement, you’ll find a mutation of that approved FDA phrase: “helps reduce the dimpled appearance…” These statements seem inconsistent, at best. You’ll find this sort of advertising on most of the leading cellulite creams. Compared to $1500 salon treatments that make similar claims, followed by approved FDA verbiage, and NO guarantee, the creams appear to be a bargain.

What’s the bottom line with eliminating cellulite?

If you want a placebo for cellulite, you might as well look for a bargain cream. If you want to rid your body of cellulite permanently, consult a doctor to discuss your surgical options. If you want to reduce the appearance of cellulite, there are a few proven methods to reduce overall body fat, which can help, but will not eliminate cellulite. You already know what they are: proper diet and supplementation, proper exercise and rest, and plenty of water. There is no magic bullet for cellulite. Women have lived with it for centuries, and they’ll continue to live with it until medical science finds the time and the money to conquer something as benign as cellulite.

Written by MJ Plaster – 2002 Pagewise

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