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​​The Only Guide You'll Ever Need To Naturally Reduce The Appearance Of Cellulite

Jamie Schneider
August 24, 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.
Image by Liliya Rodnikova / Stocksy
August 24, 2023
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Around 85 to 98% of humans have cellulite. I have it, and there's a pretty good chance you have it, too. It's one of those skin concerns that just happens, regardless of age, weight, or skin care habits. Unlike crepey skin, which can be prevented to a certain extent, cellulite is often just genetic. The dimpled appearance is nothing to be ashamed of, but if it bothers you, you're certainly not alone. 

Now, I will say upfront that there is nothing you can do to get rid of cellulite completely. (I'll explain why in a moment, but I just want to set realistic expectations here!) However, in 2023, you can find updated technologies and treatments that effectively smooth the grooves and divots—perhaps more so than ever before. 

Pair those with the right lifestyle habits, and you may start to see the uneven surface level out. So where should you start? Discover the expert-backed tips down below. 

What is cellulite?

"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." 

It's incredibly common, affecting up to 98% of women, and it can be genetic—meaning, you can have cellulite no matter what products you use on your skin, how old you are, or how much you weigh. However, it does tend to show up with age as the skin loses elasticity, Guanche notes. 

"It tends to appear in the hips, thighs, and buttocks, but may also occur on the lower abdomen, breasts, and arms," says board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick, M.D., FAAD. And, sorry to say, no treatment will 100% get rid of cellulite. It's a deeper skin concern that requires more invasive skin procedures to actually eliminate. And even then, there's a good chance that cellulite will start to reappear over time1

How to reduce it 

That being said, it is possible to somewhat ease the appearance of a dimpled surface. "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," says Guanche. 

Find all of those remedies below: 


Topical creams

We'll start with the popular query: Can topical creams reduce cellulite? The answer isn't so cut and dried. 

Again, no topical can completely get rid of cellulite (there isn't a treatment on this list that will, in fact), but certain formulas can tighten an uneven appearance and make cellulite less apparent. Some key ingredients include:

  • Caffeine: "More evidence is needed prior to determining if caffeine can reduce the appearance of cellulite, though it is thought to improve the appearance by breaking down fat through blocking phosphodiesterase activity, dehydrating the skin, reducing the water content, which can make the skin appear tighter and firmer, and by vasoconstricting the blood vessels," says Garshick. The ingredient has been found to help tighten the skin superficially2, but those effects are likely more short term. 
  • Retinol: "Because retinol boosts collagen production, it can help make the skin appear tighter and smoother," Garshick adds. It won't thicken collagen enough to completely eliminate those dimples, but it can make the surface appear smoother. 
  • Peptides: "Because peptides strengthen the skin, it may help the skin appear firmer and tighter, which may improve the overall appearance of cellulite," Garshick notes. 
  • Antioxidant-rich oils: Plant-based oils, especially ones loaded with antioxidants, help nourish and soften the appearance of dry skin, which means they can help smooth an uneven surface. "Antioxidants help support overall skin health, and by softening the skin may improve the appearance of cellulite," Garshick adds. 

Lymphatic massage

Pair those butters and oils with a stimulating lymphatic massage, and you might notice smoother skin even faster. The lymphatic system, you see, is a network of vessels and other organs that keeps body fluid in balance. Get this system moving—be it through exercise or manual massage—and you can improve circulation and flush out excess fluid, both of which can reduce the appearance of cellulite. 

"Lymphatic massage, done on a regular basis3, 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."

It's not a permanent solution, Garshick adds, but it can stimulate circulation and temporarily improve the appearance4 of skin. You can read more about lymphatic massage in our guide here, which includes a step-by-step, at-home tutorial.


Dry brushing

Dry brushing also stimulates the lymph system and encourages circulation. Not to mention, it can cause a temporary "swelling" of the dermis, Guanche notes, which can help camouflage dips and divots. Just make sure you always moisturize after sweeping away; you can find our full guide to dry brushing here to learn more. 


Endospheres therapy 

If you'd prefer to go the in-office route, certain treatments can help further stimulate lymphatic drainage and improve circulation. Some people find success with lasers or subcision techniques, but if you're looking for a noninvasive method, you might want to try Endospheres therapy. It uses compressive microvibrations that generate a pulsed, rhythmic action on the tissues to specifically target cellulite, tone muscles, soothe inflammation, and contour the body. 

It helps circulate excess fluid, but it also optimizes your body's natural blood flow. "It's not enough to simply drain the area of trapped fluid; we need to prevent the area from becoming hypoxic again so the cellulite does not return," explains N'Crai Pittman, lead esthetician at Artemis Distribution

With Endospheres, "we are able to increase the vasculature of tissues by promoting collagen and making the skin more elastic, which will improve the appearance of cellulite," she adds. It requires multiple sessions, and the exact number will vary from person to person, but it honestly feels quite lovely (like an intense massage), so I personally wouldn't mind multiple rounds. 

Jamie receiving Endospheres therapy
Image by Jamie Schneider / mbg beauty editor / mbg Creative

Exercise habits

You can have cellulite no matter how much you weigh; however, changes in weight can make it more noticeable, as can an inactive lifestyle. After all, exercise gets your lymph flowing, and a healthy lymphatic system is necessary for a smoother skin appearance. 

Exercise (specifically resistance training) also helps strengthen muscle mass, "which may make the cellulite less visible," says Garshick. Check out our expert-backed guide to strength training for a sample workout plan, if you need some exercise inspiration. 



According to Garshick, cellulite can form in response to lifestyle factors, like diet and dehydration. Specifically, "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. 

So go ahead and 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 study5, 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. Feel free to check out this list of collagen supplements for more info. 


Use self-tanner

This is more of an aesthetic tip, but self-tanner can totally make uneven skin appear toned and smooth. These glow-enhancing formulas don't only deliver a sun-damage-free bronze: They can also cover up dark spots, balance skin tone, and make cellulite less apparent. 

Just make sure you have a high-quality formula with skin-loving ingredients (great news! We have a handy list here). 

The takeaway

If you consider yourself a living, breathing human with skin, you probably have cellulite. Yes, it's really that common. And it's truly nothing to worry about! If it does bother you, though, you do have options, whether you want to pursue the in-office route or stick to at-home lifestyle methods.

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.