Do Weird Cures for Cellulite Actually Work?

Do Weird Cures for Cellulite Actually Work?
Photo: Delmaine Donson / E+/Getty Images. Design: Allison Kahler/STYLECASTER.

Ah, the C word. Cellulite is nothing to be ashamed of, because one, it’s a natural part of body development and two, almost all of us have it. Seriously, it’s believed to occur in roughly 90 percent of post-adolescent females; makes you wonder why we’ve been taught that it’s somehow a bad thing.

There are a number of variables that factor into the development of skin dimpling, and for as long as we can remember, brands have been trying to convince us that removing it is actually possible. In fact, that’s the biggest misconception about cellulite: that it can be magically erased with the swipe of a topical or touch of an expert hand. So if that’s what you want, is it even possible?

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What is cellulite?

Before we to the “cures,” let’s make sure we have a clear understanding of what cellulite is. According to Dr. Robb Akridge, Co-Founder of Clarisonic, “cellulite forms in the body when underlying fat deposits begin to push through layers of collagen fibers, or connective tissue, under the skin. This combination of connective tissue and fat is what causes the dimple-like appearance which is often found in the buttocks and thigh areas.”

It can also form in other areas, like the arms and stomach.

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The Misconception

One of the biggest misconceptions is that cellulite can be treated with topical creams or DIY concoctions, such as these:

Given their watery, hydrating, vitamin-rich composition, it’s believed that the phytochemicals in cucumber tighten collagen to firm the skin’s outer layer.

Coffee Scrub
Caffeine has long been renowned for its ability to provide antioxidants (aka compounds that delay damage to skin cells) and energize the skin. This is why many believe when applied topically, it can tighten the outer tissues of the skin and speed up metabolism.

Seaweed Baths
Thalassotherapy is a French skin care treatment that involves applying hot water and seaweed to the skin, either in the form of a bath or a “wrap.” And according to experts (and the Internet), it’s a prime anti-cellulite treatment because of its high iodine content, an ingredient that when used consistently, can slow down signs of aging.

Consuming gelatin has numerous health and body benefits, but it all comes down to the unlikely ingredient’s supposed efficacy in increasing collagen production. Typically, people consume it in the form of gelatin powder mixed in with beverages to counteract collagen deficiency.

All of these look like a relatively quick fix, right? Unfortunately, all they do (with consistent use, of course) is make your skin feel tighter. Dr. Akridge also says, “while there are creams that will tighten an area temporarily, they do not pull the fat in to reduce the dimples.  Some people think that at-home devices will work to treat cellulite, but these are also temporary.”

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The Truth About Topicals

So if you’re hell bent of diminishing that dimple action, what can you do? According to Dr. Akridge, the best way to get rid of it is through old fashioned exercise. There are also in-office treatments, such as laser therapies or more invasive procedures where the connective tissue is physically clipped away.

“While these do help treat cellulite, they may not resolve all cellulite issues completely because they don’t remove the fat,” says Dr. Akridge. “Unfortunately, some bodies are just designed in a way that is more prone to cellulite.”