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A Cosmetic Dermatologist Shares 3 Natural Tips To Smooth Cellulite

Jamie Schneider
July 20, 2023
Jamie Schneider
Beauty & Health Editor
By Jamie Schneider
Beauty & Health Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
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Image by Delmaine Donson / iStock
July 20, 2023
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Every beauty professional has their nonnegotiable steps. In our series Like a Pro, we tap experts for the top three techniques they absolutely swear by. Here, you'll hear from a variety of industry insiders on the fail-safe tricks they always keep in their back pockets. We're all about simplifying your beauty regimen wherever you can, and sometimes the best routines are as easy as 1, 2, 3.

Let's just say this upfront: No treatment will completely get rid of cellulite. It's a deeper skin concern that will require more invasive skin procedures to actually eliminate. And even if you do invest in the in-office route, there's a good chance that cellulite will start to reappear over time1

See, "Cellulite is caused by herniation of fat bulges between fibrous bands that connect your skin to the underlying tissue," explains board-certified dermatologist Anna Guanche, M.D., founder and director of Bella Skin Institute. "This tethering pulls down on your skin, causing the normal layer of fat beneath the skin to push upward. The result is a puckering appearance to the skin or skin dimpling." 

And despite its dreaded reputation, hear us loud and clear when we say cellulite is not a bad thing. It's incredibly common, affecting up to 98% of women, and it can be genetic—so you can have cellulite no matter what products you use on your skin, how old you are, or how much you weigh. 

That said, it's also very common to feel insecure about the dimples and divots, which is where Guanche comes in: "There is no way to completely eliminate cellulite, but there are ways that you can reduce its appearance through a combination of treatments, diet, and exercise," she says. Ahead, find her top three tips: 


Smart topicals

It's the million-dollar question (or, well, billion, considering skin care is a billion-dollar industry): Do "tightening" and "toning" creams really work for cellulite?

According to Guanche, the answer is a resounding it depends. "Contrary to popular opinion, there are some products on the market that can help with the appearance of cellulite," she notes. 

Not every "firming cream" on the market will yield the same results, but she praises formulas specifically with caffeine, which can help tighten the skin superficially2, and pink pepperslim, which has some pre-lipolytic properties (aka, reducing the size of fat deposits) and activates microcirculation. "A great product that I recommend to my patients is MAELYS B-TIGHT, which features both of these ingredients," she shares. "It's also clinically tested, showing incredible results when it comes to the appearance of cellulite." 

Again, completely eliminating or preventing cellulite is nearly impossible3; that said, these topicals can help the uneven appearance, but the effects won't last forever. Says Guanche, "Supporting the skin's elasticity is key in making cellulite less apparent." Less apparent doesn't mean totally gone—it's important to be realistic here. 


A nutrient-rich diet

"A diet high in sugar, [unhealthy] fat, or salt can make cellulite more apparent," Guanche states. 

On the other hand, a protein-rich diet has been associated with a reduction in cellulite on the thighs: ​​In one study, researchers split 43 women into three groups: One group followed a low-carb diet, the second group ate a high-protein diet, and the third group ate a control diet with a standard amount of macronutrients. The results? Women in group 2 had a lower amount of cellulite on the glutes compared to groups 1 and 3. 

Take it as your sign to load up on high-protein foods. Bonus points if your meals are also rich in collagen, which Guanche notes can "help strengthen skin tissue." 

Research also backs up this claim: In one double-blind, placebo-controlled study4, women who had moderate cellulite took a daily dose of 2½ grams of bioactive collagen peptides, which led to an enhanced skin appearance, with fewer signs of waves and dimples. The theory is that the improved elasticity helps the appearance of cellulite because the fibrous bands are able to stretch more.

If you'd like a more targeted dose of collagen, see here for our favorite, high-quality collagen supplements


Lymphatic drainage

The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and other organs that keeps body fluid in balance. And getting this system moving—be it through exercise or manual massage—can improve circulation and flush out excess fluid, both of which can reduce the appearance of cellulite. 

"Lymphatic massage, done on a regular basis5, is a noninvasive treatment that can reduce the appearance of cellulite," says Guanche. "This technique helps the body to eliminate excess liquids and thereby minimize the appearance of fat." 

You may also consider dry brushing, which can similarly encourage circulation. It won't result in anything permanent (no at-home treatment will!), but it can cause a temporary "swelling" of the dermis, Guanche notes, which can help camouflage the dips and divots. You can find our full guide to dry brushing here

The takeaway 

No treatment can completely eliminate cellulite, and any product that promises such should be met with a skeptical eye. That's not to say you can't smooth the dimpled appearance—with a combination of skin-stimulating topicals, a protein-rich diet, and lymphatic drainage, you can encourage soft, even-toned skin

Jamie Schneider author page.
Jamie Schneider
Beauty & Health Editor

Jamie Schneider is the Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and more. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.