Skip the expensive creams and laser treatments. Here are some natural home remedies for cellulite.
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Wouldn't it be nice if there were a magic solution for getting rid of cellulite? Considering the fact that 80 to 90 percent of women think of the dimpled, uneven skin as a major beauty issue, it's no wonder we all want home remedies for cellulite removal. Unfortunately, those solutions aren't so simple to find.
Here's what's going on when cellulite shows up: "About half of our body fat is deposited under our skin, before our muscle layer," explains Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., a professor of exercise science and director of fitness research at Quincy College. "As women age, they lose about 5 pounds of muscle per decade. And when you don't use muscle—like when you sit at a desk all day—you lose it. When that layer of muscle gets smaller, you don't have as firm a foundation under the increasing layers of fat, and they tend to wobble and get crinkly or cottage cheese-y."
Beyond that, though, science hasn't uncovered a ton of information about what exactly causes cellulite, or how you can get rid of it. (That said, these three sneaky food ingredients likely don't help cellulite.) We know there's no definitive, science-backed cure for cellulite, which also means that the answer isn't going to be found in fancy creams or expensive plastic surgeries. So if you're down to try natural home remedies for cellulite (and stretch marks), experiment with options that are a little more wallet-friendly.
1. Healthy Diet and Exercise
Women who performed 20 minutes of aerobic exercise and 20 minutes of strength training two or three days a week, paired with a healthy diet, added an average of 1.3 pounds of muscle, lost an average of 4.6 pounds of fat, and self-reported seeing less cellulite, says Westcott, who conducted the study at South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. "What we found is that if you add muscle while you lose fat, it should help make the overlying skin look smoother," he says. (Did you know you can score these mental health benefits from exercise?)
2. Foam Rolling
While you're probably already foam rolling to recover from your workout, there's a bonus: It could be one of the best home remedies for cellulite on legs. "Massaging works to soften the fibrous bands of connective tissue that cause the dimpled appearance of cellulite," says Dendy Engelman, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. A study in the journal Dermatology Research and Practice found that patients who received 10 sessions of lymphatic massage (a similar technique) showed significant softening of the tissue. It's likely because improving circulation via massage could keep collagen and elastin from breaking down, which would have an effect on the appearance of cellulite. There's one catch, though: The study participants had to do four hours of lymphatic massage a day—so it's not exactly a time-friendly solution.
3. Dry Brushing
Gwyneth Paltrow may have made this beauty technique more mainstream, but Dr. Engelman says there could be some merit behind the practice. "Exfoliation can help to smooth the appearance [of cellulite] by increasing blood flow to the area and reducing inflammation," she says. Using a natural bristle brush, start at your feet and, working your way up the body, brush upwards toward the heart using firm strokes. (Here's everything else you need to know about dry brushing.)
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
There are a lot of claims that natural home remedies for cellulite can be found in the kitchen. One ingredient: Apple cider vinegar. "[It] has a plethora of probiotics and amino acids, and it helps the body create its own natural stores of HCL (good belly acid), which [are good for] digestion and detoxification," says Nikki Ostrower, nutrition expert and founder of NAO Wellness. Detoxification is important because toxins—or anything that harms the body—play a huge role in the health of the fascia, which is the connective tissue that runs through every nook and cranny of the body underneath the skin, explains Ashley Black, author of The Cellulite Myth. "Fat stores the toxins that are most difficult to break down," she says, which then warps the shape of the fascia, potentially leading to the appearance of cellulite.
"Toxins also contribute to the breakdown of collagen and elastin that keep the skin smooth and firm," says Stefanie Mendez, R.D., cofounder of Matriarch, a women's fitness and nutrition service. "Collagen is stored in the fascia, and elastin is found in the blood, so when the distorted fascia restricts blood flow, the two can't work together," says Black. "Collagen provides firmness and elastin works like a rubber band, so it's important to have both efficiently operating for smooth skin." (Check out what happened when one woman did an apple cider vinegar cleanse.)
Whether you eat it or soak in a seaweed bath, Ostrower says the ingredient is a powerful detox aid that may help battle cellulite. "It's like a magnet in your body that attaches to toxins and whisks them out," she says. "It's also rich in iodine, which is wonderful for your thyroid and therefore your hormone health." There's some evidence that hormones could play a role in cellulite production, so keeping your thyroid healthy may be useful.
Your morning kick start is another potential home remedy for cellulite. "Green tea is full of anti-inflammatory catechins, which may stimulate the sympathetic nervous system to use more energy and break down more fat," and that could keep fat tissue from clumping under the skin, says Mendez. Plus, some science shows that caffeine could have a small effect on cellulite when applied topically (like in a DIY scrub made from coffee beans), but the results are temporary.
7. Cayenne Pepper
"Cayenne heats up the temperature in your body, and it's wonderful at spiking your metabolism and digestive fire," says Ostrower. "It's said to prevent more cellulite from appearing." There isn't enough definitive science to back up this claim, but if you're game to give it a try—a lot of people think cayenne pepper is the new diet food, anyway—sprinkle some of the spicy stuff into your smoothie.
8. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is another superfood with alleged cellulite powers. Ostrower says mixing coconut oil with juniper essential oil and massaging it into your skin could improve the appearance of cellulite. How? Coconut oil is super moisturizing—which helps your skin look more supple—and "the juniper oil helps to heat up the tissue and expel toxins," she explains. "It also has the ability to slow the growth of the tissue that pushes against fat. Massaging it into the skin helps to break up those fatty deposits." (PS: Here's more info on how to get rid of cellulite using essential oils.)
Out of all of the home remedies for cellulite removal, this one may be the easiest: Drink more water! Water helps improve circulation and decrease inflammation, both of which can help with the appearance of cellulite. "Increased water intake helps with the appearance of cellulite because it gives the look of smoother skin," says Dr. Engelman. "If the skin and soft tissue is dehydrated, it can make the skin appear more undulating—think of a bumpy, dry sponge versus one that has been filled with water." Aim to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses a day, and try these tricks for downing more H2O during the day.
A Friendly Reminder
As much as we'd all love a bunch of home remedies for quick cellulite removal, the fact of the matter is that all of these ideas are big ol' maybes when it comes to actually getting rid of dimpled skin. Right now, science says there are no treatment options proven to reduce cellulite. Your best bet is to eat healthy, hit the gym, and hydrate—each will help you feel better overall, regardless of how drastic a change you see in your skin. And when it comes to cellulite, don't stress too much over it: The reality is that it's more common than not.