Cellulite is something that many people dread and that seems to be the last word when it comes to feeling good naked or getting a beach body you can be proud of. No surprise then that a huge industry has built up around cures for cellulite that promise to eradicate the unattractive lines through the simple mere application of a cream or lotion. But is it too good to be true? Can such a silver bullet really exist? Here we will examine the answer to that question by looking at what cellulite is and what causes it, and then how these cellulite creams promise to work.
What Is Cellulite?
First of all – what is cellulite? Well essentially it is a ‘topographic’ change in the skin that is found particularly in females. This alters the appearance of the skin to make it appear dimpled and nodular and it tends to center around the pelvis, buttocks, legs and abdomen.
The cause is the herniation of subcutaneous fat into the connective tissue. In other words, some of the fat that exists in fat cells beneath the skin has burst through and disrupted the layer of connective tissue. It is believed to occur in roughly 80% (studies range from 70-80%) of females and of course not all of them are overweight – so you are not alone if this is a problem that you experience.
Causes of Cellulite
Many things cause cellulite and this includes everything from changes in the metabolism caused by dieting, to hormonal and genetic factors. Hormones in fact play a large role in cellulite and it is believed that estrogen is largely responsible for the creation of estrogen. Other hormones that may have an effect are insulin, the thyroid hormones, catecholamines adrenaline and noradrenaline. Of course before these aspects can have any effect, fat must exist under the skin in order for this to herniate, obviously as well the more fat there is, the more pronounced this can become. Coupled with a genetic predisposition and then triggered by hormonal changes, this is all enough to cause cellulite to form.
How Do Anti-Cellulite Creams Work?
As you can see then, the causes of cellulite are hormonal as well as a result of diet and exercise. Suffice to say then, that anti-cellulite creams will not be able to prevent cellulite from forming as this is something that isn’t topical. However they could in theory be able to repair cellulite or at least help to improve it.
This would of course depend on what was actually inside the creams, and that’s where the variation comes in. Common ingredients in anti-wrinkle creams are collagen, vitamin E, DMAE, retinol and caffeine (yes, the same caffeine found in tea and coffee). These then have the following effects:
Caffeine: Caffeine encourages blood flow to the skin and flushes out fluids which causes it to appear firmer and more even. This is a temporary effect though and it is generally only included in the products to create the illusion of something immediately happening.
Retinol: Retinol works by penetrating the skin, exfoliating it and increasing the production of collagen. This can then make the skin appear thicker and firmer. That doesn’t actually get rid of collagen then, but rather it thickens the skin so that the cellulite that is underneath is less noticeable. This is a more long term effect and can reduce the appearance of cellulite. Too much of this though can have an adverse effect and cause reddening and peeling.
Collagen: Of course if you could deliver collagen directly to the skin then you could achieve even better results than you would with retinol and without the side effects. Thus some products contain collagen in them but there is a problem here – that being that collagen particles are actually too large to fit through the skin – so they won’t actually do anything. Some products claim to have found ways around this but those claims are largely dubious.
DMAE: DMAE is an antioxidant that comes from fish, and that can stimulate the muscles to contract more and thus become firmer. This would then create more support for the skin making it look firmer and more even.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is used in a vast range of skin care products and it is one of the vitamins that plays the biggest role in the body in repairing damaged skin.
PurCellin Oil: PurCellin oil is an ingredient used in Bio-Oil and one or two other products which creates a protective layer over the skin while meanwhile allowing the other nutrients to be soaked into the skin more (that shield also keeps things in). On its own it won’t do much, but combined with other ingredients it makes them more useful.
Do Cellulite Creams Work?
So the question is then – do all these things work? The answer is ‘yes and no’. These cellulite creams will not get rid of your cellulite as there is no cream that can dissolve fat, and nor will they manage to prevent your cellulite from occurring in the first place – because that’s more to do with your hormones etc.
No, what your cellulite creams do is to reduce the appearance of cellulite by toning the skin and firming it up along with the muscle underneath. And if you were to read the label carefully then this is usually what they state on the front.
To really improve your cellulite only one thing will do – and that’s exercise and diet plain and simple. By exercising you can reduce cellulite by burning fat, though it can take a random amount of time before the body chooses to start burning fat from the right areas. Meanwhile you can use your diet to prevent yourself from adding more fat or storing more carbs. Use this in conjunction with a cellulite cream though (and choose one with retinol and purcellin) and you can make the biggest visible change the fastest.