I have cellulite…dimples, hail damage, orange peel…Pick your euphemism. Most women have it. There are several causes including weight gain, hormonal changes, bad diet and plain old genetics.
Cellulite occurs when collagen fibrils stiffen and wrap themselves around fat cells. This seals in fat and toxins which is why we get the “orange peel” or lumpy effect. If you are retaining water in any way or are dehydrated, cellulite will look even worse. Weak blood circulation and insufficient lymphatic drainage will also add to the “lumpiness”.
There are a few things you can do at home to improve the appearance of cellulite. Dry brushing, massage and body scrubs are all great treatments. You also have options as far as diet and exercise are concerned.
Unfortunately, you can’t completely get rid of cellulite. In some cases, it’s genetic and impossible to remove or the cellular structures have already been altered and can’t be repaired completely. Prevention is better than cure but here are some of the things that you can do to improve the way your thighs and buttocks look if you already have cellulite:
Dry Brushing exfoliates dead skin cells, improves blood circulation and stimulates the lymphatic system to eliminate excess fluid and toxins.
You will need a wooden body brush with natural bristles. I know the plastic version is cheaper but the synthetic bristles are much rougher and can scratch your skin. They are also held in place with metal clips that rust. Stick with a natural product if you can.
Please note: NEVER use a body brush on broken skin, varicose veins, eczema, psoriasis or any skin irritation.
Step 1: Start at your feet and with firm circular motions, brush towards your heart. This improves circulation. Pay special attention to your thighs and buttocks but be very gentle on your abdomen and chest. Do a little extra brushing on heels and knees to exfoliate them properly.
Step 2: After dry brushing, take a warm shower and wash your body. You can use a sponge, washcloth or exfoliating gloves for a little extra stimulation. Rinse yourself off properly.
Step 3: Turn the shower to a cool temperature. It doesn’t have to be completely cold but the colder the better. You can also start with cool water and turn it down as you get used to it. Use the shower head if you can detach it and rinse your whole body with the cold water for at least 20 to 30 seconds.
If your showerhead has a jet or pulse setting, use it on your thighs and buttocks for an extra boost.
Step 4: Adjust the water back to a warm temperature for one minute and then back to cold for 10 seconds before getting out of the shower.
Step 5: Wrap up warm and lie down for 5 minutes. You can also use one of the massage techniques below.
Alternating warm and cold water stimulates circulation, aids lymphatic drainage, exercises capillary walls and tones tissues. All the things you need to improve the appearance of cellulite.
Massage also minimises the appearance of cellulite by improving circulation and lymph flow. Improved circulation helps to soften the collagen bands that cause the lumpy skin. Try to massage areas with cellulite in the morning and evening after a bath or shower.
Apply a massage oil or lotion to the affected area so that your hands slide over your skin easily.
25ml/1 fl oz carrier oil (grapeseed / coconut)
4 drops fennel essential oil
4 drops geranium essential oil
Using alternating hands, massage the skin in long sweeping strokes towards the heart. Use firm strokes but do not bruise yourself and do not massage broken skin on varicose veins.
You can also use a hand-held massager with the oil for a more intensive treatment. There are also knobbly massage mitts and brushes available that will add extra stimulation.
Salt Scrubs clear pores and slough off dead skin cells for soft polished skin that glows. It stimulates cell renewal and the ever important lymphatic drainage that helps us get rid of excess fluid and toxins in the body.
1 cup Epsom Salts (Sea salt can be substituted)
1 handful rock salt or sea salt flakes
2 drops rosemary essential oil
10 drops grapefruit essential oil
5 drops geranium essential oil
Step 1: Stand under a warm shower for a few minutes to make sure that your skin is warm and wet.
Step out of the shower but don’t dry off.
You can also simply turn the water off and stay in the shower to avoid a mess. Just be careful that you don’t slip and fall.
Step 2: Take some salt scrub and start scrubbing from the tops of your feet upward in circular motions. You can also scrub the soles of your feet at the end if you have salt left but don’t use it on your face.
Move up your legs in those circular movements and concentrate on your thighs and buttocks.
You can also scrub your abdomen and chest but be very careful as the skin is more delicate there. If you have enough salt left, scrub your arms and shoulders as well but avoid the neck and face. You can also use it on your hands.
Step 3: Step back under a warm shower and massage the oil and salt all over your body until the salt is rinsed away properly.
Step 4: Turn the shower to cool / cold and make sure that the water flows over your whole body.
Step 5: Get out of the shower and dry yourself vigorously. Wrap up warm and lie down for 5 minutes. Make sure that you are warm enough. Your skin will tingle.
Coffee Scrubs are ideal because caffeine does so much to improve the appearance of cellulite. It not only improves circulation and drainage but it also tightens the skin.
1 cup of coffee grounds
3 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
3 tablespoons sea salt or brown sugar
This one is easy, just mix all these ingredients together and use in a warm shower to scrub from your feet upwards towards your heart. All the usual rules apply, be careful on your abdomen and chest and don’t scrub areas with skin conditions or wounds.
Leave the scrub on for a minute or two and then rinse properly with warm water. Don’t use soap yet. Use another minute or two to wash and condition your hair to let the oils from the coffee grounds seep into the skin then use a shower gel to wash away any excess oil and colour left behind.
Coffee grounds do leave behind a brown colour on the skin so you will want to wash that off properly.
Fake it until you make it:
I find that my cellulite looks much worse when my skin is pale and dry. I keep the area moisturised as much as possible. Another helpful tip is to use a self-tanning body lotion a few times a week. Don’t go orange, but a subtle tan really improves the appearance of those dimples. Gradual tan products work particularly well on the exfoliated skin so I apply it just after a good scrubbing session while my skin is still slightly damp.
Food and Cellulite:
We all know that a healthy diet and plenty of water will improve the hail damage on our thighs. Here are a few foods to avoid as much as possible and a few secret food friends that help our cause.
- Refined and processed foods like white bread, white rice, white pasta etc
– The body simply converts them to sugars that are stored as fat if you do not use them immediately
- Sugary drinks like sweetened juices and fizzy drinks as well as sugary snacks.
– Sugar stiffens and destroys collagen
– Read your food labels. You can read more about sugar here: https://makingsenseofsugar.com/healthy-eating/food-labelling/
- Foods high in salt like condiments, soy sauce, cheeses with added salt and snacks with a high salt content
– Read your food labels: Foods high in salt have more than 1.5g salt / 100g (or 0.6g sodium / 100g)
Foods low in salt have less than 0.3g salt /100g (or 0.1g sodium / 100g)
- Foods that are high in saturated fats that slow down circulation such as fried foods, fast foods, crisps and fatty meats should be avoided.
– Read your food labels:
To improve cellulite:
- Lemon water to hydrate, eliminate toxins and provide Vitamin C for collagen repair
- Grapefruit to speed up metabolism and hydrate
- Nuts full of omega 3 fatty acids that help keep skin healthy and elastic
- Buckwheat for its vitamin B and fibre content to eliminate toxins as well as it’s lysine content that helps to repair tissues and collagen
- Parsley to prevent water retention and eliminate excess fluid. Also valuable for its Vitamin A, C and E content that help to build healthy skin.
- Coriander helps to move heavy metals out of fat cells that inhibit proper function and elimination
- Green Tea helps to release stored fat in fat cells because it contains theobromine
- Whole grains are a great source of slow release energy and antioxidants to help eliminate toxins.
- Broccoli contains alpha lipoic acid that prevents collagen from hardening and causing cellulite
- Oranges contain methoxylated bioflavonoids that improve circulation and cell imbalances that cause cellulite to form
- Asparagus is anti-inflammatory which reduces water retention and bloating
- Berries help eliminate toxins from the body that stiffen collagen fibrils
- Garlic aids blood circulation to flush out excess fluid from tissues
- Turmeric stimulates circulation, reduces swelling and inflammation and also removes toxins. More about turmeric.
- Nettles are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that aid digestion. It is also a diuretic that helps prevent fluid retention
- Fennel reduces swelling and flushes excess fluid. More about fennel seeds.
- Cucumber and celery help to reduce fluid retention
- Banana, tomato and beetroot contain lycopene that stimulates circulation to eliminate toxins as well as potassium, vitamin E and collagen boosting vitamin A.
To improve the appearance of cellulite it’s good to reduce the amount of fat in the area and tone the underlying muscles. Here are a few exercises that will tone the thighs and buttocks:
Pilates and Yoga:
Both of these are your friends! Stretching and toning the thigh muscles and generally working up a sweat is a great way to reduce fat and speed up sluggish circulation. Both Yoga and Pilates create long lean muscles while strengthening the core.
I love Thandy Gutierrez’s Pilates videos on youtube and she has a great subscription program for a full lifestyle makeover called Mat and Kitchen as well. You can check that out here http://www.matandkitchen.com/
For Yoga, I discovered Lesley Fightmaster on Youtube. Fightmaster Yoga is ideal for anyone who is new to yoga. There are 30-day challenges for beginners and more advanced yogis as well. https://www.youtube.com/user/lesleyfightmaster
Note: I have no affiliation with either of these instructors I simply use their videos myself and they have worked for me.
Jumping Rope: We used to jump rope in school all the time, not only in PE class but just for fun. It’s a great toning and cardiovascular exercise that strengthens and tones muscles in the legs, arms and shoulders.
According to SHAPE Magazine: “Jumping rope burns more than 10 calories a minute while strengthening your legs, butt, shoulders, and arms. And it doesn’t take long to reap major rewards. You can burn more than 200 calories in two 10-minute sessions each day (that’s 1,000 calories a week)!”
Running: Going for a run, even a short one, is a good way to get the blood pumping which gets you sweating and eliminating toxins from the body. It also reduces fat while toning and strengthening muscle fibres.
To be honest, running used to bore me to tears until I discovered Zombies RUN. It’s an app you install on your phone that simulates zombie chases while you listen to your own playlists. There is a free version that you can try to see if you like it but the annual fee is small and you get a lot more features. You can check it out here: https://zombiesrungame.com/
Walking: Longer gentle walks are good for relaxation and building endurance over time. For faster results, you can do shorter, more energetic walks. I find that walking up and down a steep hill for 20 minutes really “burns” my thighs and buttocks. You can also try speed walking. Make sure that you have good shoes though. Blisters and sore feet will definitely put a damper on your walk.
Cycling: Whether you like mountain biking, road cycling or just a nice civilised “pootle” down a cycle path, it’s a good way to strengthen and tone butt and thigh muscles. It even tones the muscles of the lower abdomen. Try a higher gear if you are just riding around town for added resistance.
You don’t need an expensive bike with all the toys but adding an inexpensive trip computer to your bike will give you an idea of the mileage you are doing which can be a great motivator to do more.
Other exercises that tone the legs and butt include stair climbing, swimming and even dance classes. Try an aqua aerobics class for a full-body toning workout.
Well, I’ve made up a coffee scrub so my dimples and I are off for a good scrub.
Let me know if you try any of these home treatments or if there is anything else you would like to see on the Perfectly Imperfect Beauty Blog.