Cellulite, aka orange-peel skin, is a natural phenomenon. It’s still a bit of a mystery - despite a lot of research. And there’s no miracle cure for these bumpy or wobbly bits on our thighs, buttocks, upper arms and bellies. However, there is hope...
Knowledge is power. And here at Nation of Strong, we’re all about empowering our Nation to join the fit-skin revolution - to live your fittest, strongest, healthiest, most beautiful life possible. Knowing what cellulite is, is the first step.
The body-positivity movement is one of the best things about living in this age. It’s great that so many women are embracing their natural beauty and lovingly accepting all that they are. This means they’re grabbing life by the horns and flaunting their curves and bumpy bits proudly.
But some of us - no matter how curvy or slim we are – can't embrace the look of cellulite. And want smoother, firmer thighs, buttocks, arms and bellies.
So what will help, other than a serious overhaul of our beauty standards?
There’s no quick-fix, magic-bullet solution. But we can make a difference to the texture and appearance of cellulite through a combination of effective skincare, massage, diet and exercise.
What exactly is cellulite?
Our genes (not jeans!), fat cells, water retention, loose connective tissue, poor blood and lymph circulation, inflammation and hormones... these are all involved in creating the lumpy cottage-cheese appearance on our skin known as cellulite. This is why it can affect women who are slim and athletic as well.
Imagine the deeper hypodermis layers of your skin as a mattress. It is padded by fat cells, and your skin is anchored to your muscle by a network of bands (i.e., our fibrous network made up of collagen and elastin), or it would hang off loosely.
Researchers and doctors are still scratching their heads trying to find ways to conquering the problem. Enormous amounts of time and money and technology - from lasers to caffeine creams – have been devoted to dissolving these pesky nodules.
“Fun” facts about cellulite
It affects 90 % of women and 10 % of men. Mainly in developed countries.
Women tend to get cellulite on their legs and buttocks, abdomen and triceps area - because they have three layers of fat in those areas instead of just one.
Men can get it too, though usually around the waist and belly, and it's much less pronounced.
You can get it if you’re slim or not-so slim, fit or not-so fit, young and not-so young. But the ‘not-sos’ are more likely to have it.
Many women first notice signs of cellulite between 25 and 35. And when they start using the contraceptive pill.
It spikes in menopause. Oestrogen decreases as women approach menopause. Oestrogen affects blood vessels, and lower oestrogen means reduced blood flow. So there’s less oxygen and nourishment in cellulite-prone areas as well as a decrease in collagen production. The result? Fat cells get bigger, protrude through the collagen. Aaand… you guessed it!... cellulite appears.
Why do women get more cellulite than men?
We’re made differently. The structure of collagen - the main protein of connective tissue - looks more like vertical struts in women, while in men it looks more like a net. The net structure is stronger and seems to hold fat in better. Their skin is also thicker.
It’s about reception. Women have nine alpha receptors for every beta receptor in their thighs:
- Alpha receptors produce fat cells, trigger constriction of blood vessels and release sugar into the bloodstream when they are stimulated.
- When beta receptors are stimulated, they break down fat and increase heart rate and blood vessels.
Is cellulite more common now?
It appears to have become more prevalent in the past 50 years. In photos from the '50s and '60s, women seem to have had perfect legs - and there was no Photoshop to retouch those photos back then! What’s more, research and scientific literature about cellulite really got going around the late 1970s, indicating that it had become a phenomenon worth investigation.
This rise could be attributed to increased use of the oral contraceptive (those hormones!), and an increasingly desk-bound, much more sedentary lifestyle. Many of us don’t exercise enough (which aggravates the poor circulation and slugging lymph). We don’t even need to leave our couch to order just about anything we need to live anymore.
And, of course, we have a smorgasbord of junk food full of empty calories and additives at our fingertips.
How can I make my cellulite less noticeable?
As we’ve mentioned, there is no miracle cure to completely erase cellulite, but you can diminish its appearance. Cellulite responds best to an array of different treatments to address the different elements:
Topical cellulite creams can help reduce the appearance to a limited but visible extent. Our bestseller Fight Cellulite is appreciated by thousands of women and used every day. It works by using caffeine to break down fat inside fat cells, which is then released into the body’s elimination system. Carnitine cranks up the metabolism and burns fat. Heat therapy promotes blood circulation and stimulates healthy oxygenation.
Massage and body brushing helps to improve your circulation and tone skin, but they can’t break or loosen those fibrous bands or shrink enlarged fat cells.
Liposuction on its own isn’t the solution, for that matter. It may remove the fat, but it breaks the collagen network and can, in fact, make the appearance worse.
You would need to combine it with a skin- and collagen-tightening laser treatment.
And, yes, adopting a healthy diet, drinking enough water and green tea, and losing weight can help improve its appearance as your fat cells shrink.