As your better intuition may have told you, there is no silver bullet when it comes to getting rid of cellulite. There is no product or service you can buy short of invasive surgery that will fix the problem overnight. If you want real, long-term results, you’re going to have to put in some work. However, there are a few simple products and supplements out there that offer relatively quick results and work well when combined with a holistic cellulite treatment plan. But before we jump into that, let’s discuss the 3 main methods of attack when it comes to eliminating cellulite:
Making a few small changes to your diet can provide a variety of health benefits and fight cellulite from multiple angles. We’re going to focus on 3 key changes: reducing intake of refined carbohydrates, replacing bad fats with good fats, and increase healthy protein intake. This type of diet fights cellulite by not only reducing overall body fat, but also regulating problem hormones and improving muscle and skin tone. If you’ve tried and failed to lose weight in the past by following some fad diet or straight up trying to starve yourself, don’t panic. This diet does not require significant, if any weight loss, but rather focuses on optimizing your hormones and building muscle to help improve your body composition. Fat loss typically does follow (due to increased metabolism), but that isn’t the primary goal.
#2 Resistance Training
Resistance training will be an important element in reducing the unsightly appearance of cellulite since it both increases muscle mass in your problem areas and increases your overall metabolism to help burn more fat while at rest. But the way you train is even more important. A program that targets the lower body muscle groups, specifically the gluteals and hamstrings, is ideal for women with cellulite. Compound movements will provide the most benefit with the least amount of time spent in the gym because they target multiple muscles in the target areas. More muscle in the hips, thighs, and butt means tighter, firmer skin in addition to a host of other health benefits.
Many women think about weight training and cringe at the thought of getting even bigger or bulkier. This is a very common misconception. It is very difficult for women to build bulky muscle mass due to their lower testosterone levels, especially if they follow the right routine. A proper resistance training routine will actually make your body look smaller and tighter over time and will help you burn fat faster than if you followed an aerobic exercise program like running or biking.
The routines I recommend for women with these goals in mind involve sets of 15-25 repetitions with short breaks in between, which helps keeps the heart rate up in the fat burning zone while training the proper muscle groups. This type of training keeps workouts short, burns fat, and will give you a longer, leaner and shapely, not bulky figure.
#3 Skin Toning
Cellulite fat is no different than any other fat in your body. Yes, you can reduce the appearance of cellulite by reducing the amount of fat on your backside, but unfortunately targeted fat loss is not possible through exercise despite what you may have heard. Fortunately, you do have easy access to the skin covering those problem areas, and by repairing damaged collagen and thickening the dermis you can reduce the appearance of cellulite relatively quickly.
That said… if you’re one of the many women who has tried all the cellulite creams, wraps, massagers, and “cleanses” you can get your hands on and saw more of a reduction in your bank account than your cellulite, you’re not alone. The vast majority of cellulite treatment products on the market are big on marketing hype but come up short on results. Many of them are nothing but short-term coverups that work by increasing blood flow to the area causing swelling, which can temporarily reduce cellulite appearance. This is nice if you’re going to spend a few hours at the beach and need a quick fix, but it’s not going to get you long-term results.
Women have thinner skin on their thighs and butt than men do, which makes it easier for cellulite fat to bulge through, causing the unsightly orange peel appearance. As we get older, cellulite tends to get more and more visible as our skin’s collagen breaks down and the skin gets looser and thinner. In this article, I will cover 8 highly effective (and cheap) products that can help you quickly rebuild damaged collagen, thicken the dermis, and tighten up the skin in your problem areas. Leverage these in addition to a proper diet and resistance training program and you’ll start seeing results in no time.
Collagen is the glue that holds the body together and is the most abundant structural protein in the body. In mammals, collagen makes up around 30% of the whole-body protein content, mostly in the form of tendons, ligaments, and skin. Since 75% of the dermis consists of collagen and it accounts for 90% of your skin volume, it is critical that you have all the nutrients required to maintain healthy collagen levels. This is especially true as we get older. As we age the body loses collagen at a rate of approximately 1.5% per year after the age of 30. This is why cellulite tends to be more pronounced in older women (although it is common in women under 30 as well).
Adding a collagen supplement to your diet can prevent and reverse this loss of collagen and help strengthen the connective tissues of the dermis, which leads to thicker, tighter, and healthier skin.
Sports Research Pure Hydrolyzed Collagen Peptides are my favorite choice for this. It’s a high-quality high purity collagen supplement with no additives (40 calories, no fat or sugar) and mixes easily in just about any beverage. I take it twice per day, once in the morning with breakfast and a second dose after my workout (or before dinner on off days). As an added bonus, this not only helps reduce the appearance of cellulite but it can help fight wrinkles and keeps you looking younger!
Derma rolling (or needling) is a method of pricking the skin with tiny needles to:
1. tighten the skin and reduce wrinkles,
2. thicken the dermis to reduce cellulite visibility
3. reduce scarring and/or stretch marks
4. restore normal skin pigmentation
Derma rolling is skin needling done with a tool called a derma roller. A derma roller is a hand-held roller with a surface made of tiny needles. The needles come in different lengths and sizes.
To understand why needling is effective, we should first understand what happens when the skin is pricked by a needle deep enough to cause pinprick bleeding. To the human eye, after the skin is pricked by a needle, the pinprick will bleed slightly, scab and then heal. That’s it right? Wrong.
Beneath the skin’s surface, a lot more is going on. The healing response, which begins immediately after the injury, kick-starts a healing process that lasts for several months, up to a year. During this healing process, the real skin improvements take place.
Fibroblasts will migrate to the pinprick site and deposit new skin cell fiber. The new fibers cross-link and organize themselves. Over time, new collagen will fill in and start to reduce lines and bumps in the skin, reorganize and strengthen weakened skin, and realign and stimulate new collagen production producing tighter, healthier skin.
As the new collagen starts to shorten over a few months, this leads to a slow tightening of the skin. After a year, this process will eventually lead to the formation of a thick layer of collagen, healthy elastin and improved blood flow at the site. When you combine a large number of these small pricks over an area of skin, each needle prick’s healing process will blend seamlessly together to lay down an almost continuous sheet of collagen below the epidermis.
The needle length and needle diameter are very important in this process. Needling causes numerous dermal injuries, and we want to make sure we maximize the benefits of this with causing scarring. That’s why I recommend a maximum needle diameter of 0.25mm. Smaller diameter needles can be used but do not maximize the dermal injury and therefore might produce slower results. Larger needles can cause too much damage and take longer to heal or cause scarring.
Needle length is also critical. The target we are shooting for when we needle the dermis is a layer in the upper dermis called the intermediate reticular dermis. This dermal layer contains the highest number of stem cells which are able to produce new collagen. The epidermis (top layer of skin) varies in depth from .05mm on the eyelids to 1.5mm on the soles of the feet. The epidermis thickness on the thighs and butt can vary but is typically thought to be around .5mm, depending on how broken down your skin is (more visible cellulite usually means thinner). Therefore a length of .5mm to 1mm should work to reach the intermediate reticular dermis. In general, don’t go more than 2mm in length, as these longer needles tend to catch and can damage the skin.
The process is fairly straightforward. To start, make sure your hands are clean and sterilize the entire treatment area with isopropyl alcohol. Also, be sure to rinse your derma roller in alcohol before and after treatment.
Run the derma roller across the affected area 6-8 times in one direction, back and forth. Then, rotate the device roughly 90 degrees and do it another 6-8 times. Do this on both sides, trying to evenly cover the entire as best you can.
You will feel some mild pain but in most cases, it’s very manageable. If you find it too painful, get some anesthetic cream and apply it to the skin before treatment. Lidocaine is the most commonly used product for this: get it here.
After your treatment, you will likely notice some redness and your skin will be tender, so its best to do your derma rolling at night before bed. If you’re going to be out and about afterward, be sure to cover up the area to avoid further damage from the sun.
Once your treatment is complete, be sure to moisturize the area to get the healing process started. Rosehip oil is a good option for this since it contains vitamins, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids that can stimulate recovery and improve skin tone.
Finally, be sure not to derma roll too often or you can end up damaging your skin even further. You need to give your skin adequate time to fully heal before you begin your next treatment. Once every 2 weeks is a pretty safe interval, but everyone’s skin is different so test this out for yourself.
Glycolic acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid that can be used to treat a variety of skin conditions. It has many benefits, with the most important one being that it stimulates collagen formation beneath the skin. This makes it a popular treatment for improving wrinkles on the face, but it is also effective at thickening and strengthening the skin on your thighs and butt.
Out of all the AHAs Glycolic acid stimulates collagen growth most effectively because of its small molecule that allows it to slip beneath the epidermis to reach the collagen fibers below. Clinical tests have shown a 15-25% thickening over 12 weeks.
When doing glycolic acid treatments, like derma rolling, you need to be very careful not to overdo it. Leaving it on the skin too long or applying too often can result in damaged and dried out skin. Generally, you shouldn’t leave it on for more than 5 minutes at a time and should do treatments no more than once per week. You will likely start to feel some tingling or burning after a few minutes of having the acid on your skin. This is normal. If at any point it becomes too painful, rinse it off immediately in the shower.
The acid is available in multiple different concentrations ranging from 10-90%, with the higher percentages containing more acid. Obviously, you need to be careful about high concentrations. If it’s your first time, go with a 50% concentration and see how your skin reacts. If you’re going to upgrade to a higher concentration you should leave more recovery time between treatments.
Last but certainly not least, be sure to thoroughly moisturize the area after treatment. AHAs will majorly dry your skin out which can cause damage if the moisture isn’t restored. Essential oils work well, or you can choose cocoa butter, coconut oil, or just plain lotion with aloe.
Rosehip oil is an essential oil used in many anti-wrinkle creams and other anti-aging products. It is most often used on the face but is also useful for tightening the loose skin around your thighs and butt. It has a high concentration of Vitamin C in the form of essential fatty acids. Topical vitamin C helps boost collagen production, which as we discussed in the previous section, is critical to fighting cellulite. It also can help to smooth and even your skin tone.
Rosehip oil can be applied anytime, but I find it especially effective immediately after derma rolling or after a glycolic chemical peel. It is a very strong moisturizer, and since chemical peels tend to dry out the skin, rosehip oil is a great way to combat that while also boosting collagen and smoothing and hydrating the skin.
Retinol is a fat-soluble form of Vitamin A that is also used in many anti-aging products. It stimulates cell renewal and has shown to increase collagen production as well. It is typically used on the face to treat wrinkles but is also useful for cellulite because it can be locally applied to the thin skin on the thighs and butt.
Retinol is not as hard on the skin and can be used frequently in between derma rolling and/or acid peels. Like other anti-again products, it comes in various strengths. When shopping, be sure to take note of the ingredients.
Cellulite is most pronounced in women with sagging muscles and skin. In addition to a resistance training program, adding protein to your diet helps to build and repair muscle and connective tissue. Skin, like muscle, also needs protein to stay firm and toned. Adding a protein supplement to your diet makes it much easier to meet your protein needs, especially if you’re not a big meat eater.
For those who are lactose intolerant your stomach may get upset by some whey protein powders. If that’s the case, there are several other options available like whey protein isolate, hemp protein, egg protein, and more. If you’re worried about digestion or other negative side effects of taking protein supplements, then stick with a plain whey protein isolate that does contain any lactose or artificial flavors or sweeteners.
*Soy protein has shown in studies to contain phytoestrogens which mimic estrogen in the body. This can worsen your cellulite, among other negative side effects. Avoid it.
Here is a favorite protein shake recipe of mine that contains no lactose, added sugar, or aspartame and is low in carbohydrates:
- 2 Scoops Whey Protein Isolate
- 2 Tablespoons Pure Cacao Powder
- 3 Packets of Splenda
- 1 Scoop Amazing Grass Green SuperFood
- 12oz Almond Milk or Coconut Milk
Combine ingredients in a shaker bottle and shake for 20 seconds. Or, for a creamier texture, combine ingredients in a Magic Bullet blender with a cup of ice cubes.
These healthy fats deliver a wide range of health benefits like reducing cholesterol, but they are also great for your skin. Research shows that fish oil supplementation can produce noticeable toning of the skin within 2 months of use. This is useful for cellulite treatment since it can help tighten the skin on the buttocks and thighs making it more difficult for cellulite fat to bulge through.
The two most common sources of omega 3s are flaxseed oil and fish oil, both of which can be taken in capsule form. Another newer source that is gaining popularity is Krill oil, although there are some concerns about this harming sea life since it is not commercially mass produced yet and many smaller fish rely on it as a food source. Regardless, you should be supplementing your diet with an Omega 3 supplement in addition to adding more fish and/or nuts to your diet.
8) MCT Oil
MCT oil is a relatively new discovery in the diet and fitness world. MCT stands for medium chain triglyceride and is a specific type of fatty acid, most commonly found in coconut oil. It is comprised primarily of caprylic and capric fatty acids, and it is an odorless liquid at room temperature. So why would is this specific type of fat beneficial for us?
Conventional dietary fats found in foods (LCTs) range between 16-22 carbon atoms in length. This is the same type of fat stored on your body. MCTs are only 6-12 carbon atoms long. This difference in molecular structure is the reason why MCT oil behaves differently in the body than do conventional fats.
When MCTs are absorbed into the bloodstream, they bypass the digestion process that longer chain fats have to go through. This means they provide quick energy for the body and are less likely to be stored as body fat. More importantly, when a meal contains MCTs, there is a significant increase in the number of calories burned. In other words, it has a thermogenic effect on the body.
All this is not to say you should start chugging MCT oil and expect to lose weight. Any type of excess calories can lead to weight gain if you consume too much. But this specific type of fat is far less prone to be stored as body fat than any other type of fat you may consume which comes in very handy for those on a low carb diet. Add MCT oil to your morning coffee or to a pre-workout shake and it will provide a sustainable source of energy, keep you feeling full, and keep your metabolism running at full speed throughout the day.
And there you have it… my top 8 cellulite smashing products and supplements. Once again, remember to use these in combination with a proper cellulite fighting diet and exercise program for maximum results. These tools will help you get quick results but if you want to truly get rid of your cellulite and stay rid of it for good, you’ll need to make some lifestyle changes and get your body into cellulite fighting state.