They say youth is wasted on the young, including their predisposition to flawless, cellulite-free bellies, hips and legs. Truth is, you don’t appreciate taut, unpuckered skin till you no longer have it. Dimpled, rippled, bulgy…whatever you call it, don’t blame yourself for cellulite.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not caused by fat. It's a skin condition that can affect anyone, regardless of weight. Because of the way women store fat cells, about 90 percent of women will have cellulite at some point in their lives (usually after age 25), compared to roughly 10 percent of men.
So what is cellulite, exactly?
Cellulite causes lumpy, dimpled flesh on the thighs, hips, buttocks and abdomen. Below your skin, you have fat cells that store energy. Also in the mix are fibrous connective cords, called septae, that tether your skin to the underlying muscle. As fat cells accumulate, they push up against the skin, while the long, tough cords pull down, creating an uneven surface or dimpling.
Regardless of weight, body fat percentage, and fitness level—your fat cells can morph into cellulite as you age. And though they are not caused by weight or lack of fitness
, these two factors can exacerbate how much cellulite you have or its appearance.
What causes cellulite?
Basically, hormonal factors play a large role in the development of cellulite, alongside your genetics which determine skin structure, skin texture and body type. It tends to run in families. While lean people can get cellulite too, an inactive lifestyle can increase your chances of having cellulite, as can pregnancy.
Is there a cellulite spectrum?
Funny that you asked—there is. Apparently, like most things, cellulite exists on a continuum. Doctors categorize the severity of cellulite via several grading systems. One such system grades cellulite on a scale of one through four.
Grade I: No cellulite is visible but early changes have begun.
Grade II: No cellulite is visible when skin is at rest, but it becomes apparent when skin is compressed, or muscles are contracted.
Grade III: Cellulite is visible when skin is at rest.
Grade IV: More severe cellulite is visible when skin is at rest.
Natural ways to get rid of cellulite
Several medical procedures purport to reduce cellulite or ameliorate its appearance. But they can be costly, invasive and ineffective. Worth trying are creams
, dry brushing and exercise before you turn to something more drastic.
Over the counter creams
There are plenty of topical treatments to explore, which may help to reduce the visibility of cellulite. Typically, the results of creams and lotions are temporary. For example, you’ll need to apply the product daily to maintain results. Creams can tighten the skin, which makes the skin appear smoother and firmer. They also add moisture, which can reduce the appearance of cellulite.
Many topical cellulite creams contain caffeine, which increases blood and lymphatic flow and works as a diuretic, thus reducing the appearance of cellulite. Another option is to try a product that contains retinol
, which thickens the outer layer of skin, and makes cellulite less visible. It takes retinol six months to see results, and it can cause skin sensitivities such as dryness, redness, peeling and sensitivity to the sun.
This ancient technique, said to be used by the Egyptians, stimulates blood and lymph flow, remove dead skin cells, and boosts circulation and new cell growth. It’s good for overall detoxification and calms your nervous system. Dry brushing
is best done right before bathing or showering. Using a stiff bristled body brush, scrub your cellulite prone areas in long fluid strokes, moving from bottom to top or in a circular fashion.
The American Council on Exercise says exercises
that firm and tone muscles and tighten up your skin can make cellulite less noticeable. Opt for an exercise program that combines aerobic exercise and strength training helps you burn body fat as well as tone and define your muscles.
You can also target, through your exercise regimen, the areas of your body that are prone to cellulite.