Affiliate Disclosure: There are affiliate links throughout this post. I receive a small percentage of purchases made through these links without any increase in cost for the buyer. Opinions and reviews are all my own.
Do anti-cellulite products actually work?
Cellulite has been the enemy of many women over the years. We always tend to think about it more when summer time comes around, or when we are planning on going swimming. There are so many advertisements and products that claim they can “reduce the appearance of cellulite”.
Believe it or not, there ARE cellulite solutions that work.
I have tried different products and home remedies. I have even paid a boatload for those “skinny wraps” sold by MLM companies. The skinny wraps don’t work for me, and I wasted my money on a ton of other products as well.
Sometimes, the products that work are not the most expensive, sometimes they are not even advertised as “cellulite treatment”, and sometimes cellulite products work better for other purposes.
First of All, What is Cellulite?
Cellulite is the dimpled look that occurs when there are larger fat deposits directly under the skin. Some people describe it as cottage cheese or orange peel. It definitely isn’t generally viewed as attractive, but I also think it’s one of those things that’s way more noticeable when it’s you than when it’s someone else.
There have been arguments about whether cellulite can actually be eliminated. To eliminate cellulite doesn’t necessarily involve removing fat cells or shrinking them (although that can help). Cellulite is visible for two reasons:
- The skin/tissue on top of the fat is not strong enough to evenly displace the fat.
- There are larger amounts of fat in those areas, causing the weight of the fat to “hang” awkwardly.
The first issue can be addressed by strengthening the skin in the area. This is my major focus in this article because it’s more of a quick fix solution. However, you may have better results trying to reduce your body fat percentage, therefore reducing the visibility of cellulite. I have been able to achieve some results with diet and exercise, but it’s definitely much harder to reduce the appearance of cellulite that way! I do believe genetics play a role.
I don’t think cellulite can be completely eliminated, temporarily or permanently. To expect that would be a “too good to be true” expectation from these types of products. But I do think you can temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite.
Here are some things you can do to get results WITHOUT EXERCISING. I have listed these in what I believe to be their order of effectiveness, from least to most effective.
#5- Jergens Skin Firming Lotion
I bought Jergens Skin Firming Lotion years ago with the hopes of firming up my thighs. When applied to my thighs, the lotion definitely made my skin smoother and maybe a little more firm, but it didn’t noticeably help my cellulite. I actually stumbled upon a better use for it– preventing stretch marks!
Some things are not what they seem… in a good way.
When I got pregnant, I had heard that genetics play a large role in the amount and severity of stretch marks. Well, if that was the case, I was in for it. My mom has many stretch marks on her abdomen, and I have many stretch marks from going through puberty. I thought, “Nothing is going to help me”. But I decided it was worth it to try preventing stretch marks.
I had a friend who recommended Jergens Skin Firming Lotion, saying she had used the lotion while pregnant and had very few and light stretch marks (and she has four kids!!). So I rubbed the lotion on my belly every day after I showered. This is a picture of my belly two months postpartum. Only a tiny area of stretch marks to the left of my belly button, and they aren’t visible in most lightings. (Plus if I’m being honest, now that I’m not pregnant, I am darn proud of those stretch marks. They are like a noble badge of motherhood).
I continued to rub the lotion on my belly every day to help tighten the loose skin after delivering my baby. It has helped a lot.
I also rubbed the lotion on my upper chest, where I had stretch marks from puberty. I didn’t get any stretch marks on my upper chest… but I did get stretch marks on the undersides of my breasts, where I had not thought to put the lotion. Coincidence? Maybe! But I will be repeating this ritual for my next pregnancy just in case.
Pros: very effective for stretch marks, easy to apply, inexpensive.
Cons: not effective for cellulite.
#4- Nivea Skin Firming and Toning Gel-Cream
Even though this gel-cream is not at the very top of my list, I still continue to buy it and use it after every shower. It comes out as a bluish gel, smells nice, and a little goes a long way. One tube is not very expensive and lasts me about three months (I rub it from my knees to the top of my legs). It does reduce the appearance of cellulite a little bit– I would say by about 15%… and it makes your skin silky smooth! The smoothness is a huge reason I keep going back to it.
Overall, this gel-cream is reasonably priced and works better than any skin firming lotion I’ve tried.
Pros: a little goes a long way, fairly inexpensive, reduces visibility of cellulite more than other creams, makes skin silky smooth, smells nice.
Cons: only reduces cellulite appearance by approximately 15%.
#3- GranNaturals Dry Skin and Body Brush
The dry brush I own is only sold in a combined package on Amazon with a shower scrubber:
Here is a dry skin brush sold individually by the same company but with a different look.
I believe that dry skin brushing can be very effective for cellulite when done right. It works by improving circulation (blood rushes to the surface of the skin to aid in cell repair), helping the lymphatic system flush toxins and stagnant fluid out of the tissues (who knew you had lymph tissue throughout your entire body), and exfoliating dead skin cells. After watching tutorials and reading up on it, here are the general recommendations:
- Use a brush with natural bristles to avoid harsh exfoliation (no plastics or synthetic materials. Boar bristles are a good, popular option).
- Brush lightly in circular motions, starting with the feet.
- Always brush toward the heart, to aid the lymphatic system in removing toxins and extra fluid.
- Brushing should take approximately 10 minutes. More or less will not be as effective.
- Over-exfoliating can irritate the skin; do not skin brush too often. (I choose to skin brush every other day, but some swear by every day.)
- Your skin should be dry, not wet. You’d think this would be obvious because of the name “dry brushing”, but it can be harsh on your skin to use while you are showering, or if you are sweaty after a workout.
- You should ideally shower right after skin brushing to wash away all the exfoliated skin cells and clear your pores.
- Follow up with good moisturization– that new layer of exposed skin will dry out fast.
Skin brushing involved some trial and error for me. I started out brushing every day, and I noticed that my skin seemed “thin”, and my cellulite was almost worse. I got better results skin brushing every other day or even every three days.
I also noticed small red bumps when I brushed too hard. The brushing will be uncomfortable at first, but when done right, it shouldn’t feel like scraping or scratching. It should feel good, like a massage.
After I figured it out, I immediately had smoother skin, but I didn’t notice the reduced appearance of cellulite until a couple weeks later. My legs were finally smooth and soft, with very few bumps! They actually have a nice hydrated sheen to them after making dry brushing a habit.
Pros: it’s very effective, it’s a one time purchase, there are other health benefits in addition to cellulite reduction.
Cons: it’s easy to get the technique wrong, it’s difficult to be consistent enough to see results, results are not immediate, and it could potentially be harmful when done wrong.
#2- Dead Sea Mud Mask (my #1 for immediate results!)
*The mud mask I’m holding in the picture is no longer sold on Amazon. Any dead sea mud mask should work– one you already have, or this available dead sea mud mask on Amazon.
Most people think of the Dead Sea Mud Mask as a product only used for the face, and that’s what I thought when I first bought it.
I discovered mud mask as a cellulite solution one day when I had leftover mud on my hands after applying it to my face. I happened to be ready to get in the shower and was just waiting for the mud to dry, and I decided to rub the rest of the mud on the back of my legs.
There are DIY coffee scrubs that have a similar effect, but they are messy to concoct, don’t stick to the skin very well and they make the shower stink. This is ready to go in a jar and applies easily. I’m all about convenience. 🙂
Many dead sea mud masks actually state that they may be applied to face, body and hair. Interesting, right? I have never tested it on my hair; maybe that will be my next experiment.
You know how your face feels all tight while the mask is drying? That’s how it felt on my legs, too. I could just feel it tightening my skin, and I thought, “Why didn’t I think of this sooner?” The mud moisturizes and firms the skin at the same time, and the results are immediate! (Well, after you wash it off.)
Dead sea mud masks work so great on the face– I always have glowing, supple skin afterward. It does the same for flabby areas! My cellulite dimples after applying the mud were MUCH less noticeable, probably by 50%! And it would be great for swimming because it deeply hydrates your skin, preparing it for the drying effects of chlorine or salt water.
I put this one on the top of my list for immediate results. You literally can see a difference right after washing off the mud. Just make sure you don’t sit down or touch anything– I don’t think the mud washes out of fabric easily…
Pros: big and immediate reduction in cellulite appearance, easy to apply, deeply hydrating.
My next product is even MORE effective, but less immediate.
#1- Great Lakes Gelatin: Collagen Hydrolysate
This is another one that I discovered during pregnancy. Collagen is WAY more than just cellulite treatment. In fact, I don’t think collagen is usually advertised as a cellulite remedy. Collagen is good for your hair, skin, nails, joints, bones, digestion and metabolism. Basically, our bodies are pretty good at producing collagen from certain foods that we eat. To help our bodies create collagen, we should eat foods that contain omega-3’s, antioxidants and vitamin C.
But once we reach our mid 20s, our bodies start decreasing collagen production, and this is one of the reasons why our skin starts to sag and get wrinkles as we age.
Several studies (this is one) show that taking collagen supplements can improve skin elasticity, moisture and smoothness! Research even show that the tissues and skin maintain more optimal hydration after collagen supplementation.
I decided to do my own “study” to see if ingesting collagen hydrolysates gave me noticeable improvements in my skin, specifically stretch marks and cellulite.
As a nurse, I know anything ingested is generally going to be more potent than a topical agent. (Of course, this depends on what you’re using it for; rash ointment applied to the skin is going to heal the rash better than if the ointment is swallowed.) Usually, if you apply a large amount of a topical agent, your skin acts as a filter to block most of the substance from being absorbed into the tissues or bloodstream. Not the case with anything taken orally, which is awesome, but also a good reason to be careful.
I took the recommended daily dosages of four tablespoons. The gelatin is not the type that coagulates to form “jello” when mixed with liquid. It simply dissolves, which is so convenient when incorporating it into your diet. The powder can be mixed with hot or cold beverages and is supposedly flavorless, although I noticed that it does have a slightly unpleasant flavor when mixed with something bland, like water. It also seems to dissolve faster in hot liquids.
Since I’m not much of a coffee or tea drinker, my favorite way to take the collagen is in oatmeal! It blends in very nicely and doesn’t interfere with the flavor at all. On days that I don’t eat oatmeal, I mix the powder with kefir or yogurt (since these are thicker, it takes longer to mix). It also blends into ramen noodles really well (shhhh, I’m a health blogger, I don’t eat ramen noodles…).
Like I mentioned earlier, I got very few stretch marks on my stomach and some under my breasts. I honestly don’t know how much the collagen helped with the stretch marks. But I DO know I saw a big difference in the cellulite on my thighs and butt after about a month of taking the collagen.
The only other factor that may have influenced my cellulite was my change in workout routines. I focused more heavily on legs while I was pregnant. Check out this post for my fit pregnancy workout routines. 🙂
Even so, I lost several body fat percentages a few years ago by getting fit and eating clean. I went from 23% to 19% body fat, and I still did not see this big of a difference in the cellulite on my thighs and butt! That’s why I’m convinced that the collagen supplement works.
Other things I noticed: softer and thicker hair, longer eyelashes, stronger nails, zero joint pain. But some of these results are also common due to pregnancy hormones, so I take them with a grain of salt. I am now almost three months postpartum and I have not been as consistent about taking the collagen. I have noticed my cellulite being more noticeable, as well as a slight decrease in the quality of the other results mentioned.
Pros: very effective for cellulite, easy to take, no mess, other health benefits in addition to cellulite treatment.
Cons: must be consistent to see results, results are not immediate.
Try them out!
So this is my little “case report” on cellulite treatments– definitely not valid scientific evidence, but if it helps someone else who has searched endlessly for solutions, then I will be happy!
Let me know in the comments below which of these solutions works for you!