Can a Topical Cream Help Treat Cellulite?
Cellulite is believed to be present in 85-98% of women (Annales Academie Medicae Stetinensis, 2014). Typically, it shows on the thighs, hips, and buttocks. The result of a complex combination of factors ranging from hormones to heredity, cellulite begins for most women after the onset of puberty and continues to worsen until menopause.
The reason it’s been difficult to find a cure for cellulite is that we haven’t exactly figured out what causes it. One of the biggest myths is that it’s caused by excess fat; in all actuality, anyone can have cellulite, no matter the amount of junk you have in that trunk. Well, not anyone; cellulite rarely occurs in males and targets only post-pubescent women (Dermatologic Surgery). But why?
To be quite honest, no one is really sure why we get it, but it appears that hormones (particularly estrogen) weigh in, and genetics plays the largest role. Basically, it’s all about how hormones influence your fat cells to arrange themselves under your skin, rather than how many are there. Your skin becomes distorted and strained due to the uneven distribution of fat cells, causing that dimpled look we all know and love. So yes, excess fat will exacerbate the issue, but it’s not necessarily the cause (Simple Skin Beauty).
Another contributor to cellulite are the fibrous bands that essentially hold the fat against the skin unevenly. With a new therapy device called Unison (in dermatologists’ offices only), acoustic shock wave energy is used to break the fibrous bands. In addition, it is said radio frequency energy is used to tighten the skin and even out fat deposits, but since radio frequency energy devices have been on the market for a while without helping cellulite much, I would attribute Unison’s success mostly to the breaking of the fibrous bands. Unison improves cellulite in clinical trials by about 54%; it costs about $4,000 total for four treatments, on average.
The final contributor to cellulite (besides fat deposits themselves and fibrous bands) is the overlying skin elasticity, or lack thereof. Which is where I personally think Clarins Body Fit Anti-Cellulite Lotion can potentially change the appearance of the skin the most. Now, there are tons of cellulite creams on the market claiming to do this, but I have heard a ton of positive things about the Clarins Body Fit Anti-Cellulite Lotion so I wanted to give it a try for myself.
Caffeine is Here, But Doesn’t Help
The magic behind the Clarins Body Fit Anti-Cellulite Lotion is caffeine! According to Dr. Zoe Draelos et. al, creams with methylxanthines (including caffeine) are phosphodiesterase inhibitors. When phosphodiesterases are inhibited, this activates ß-adrenergic receptors, which in turn break down fat into its glycerol and fatty acid components. Methylxanthines may additionally work by dehydrating the fat cells, decreasing their appearance through the skin.
For best results, it has been demonstrated that methylxanthine creams should be used continuously. Still, don’t expect too much: According to a 1999 study in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, only 3 of 35 (8.6%) of patients reported having improved appearance of cellulite following 12 weeks of treatment.
But why the low success rate? Basically, you need a penetration-enhancer to get the proper amounts of the ingredients into your system, and it’s unclear how much of that job would rest upon the shoulders of the menthol that is also found in this lotion (more on that in a minute).
Next, caffeine intake has been shown to thin the skin. And since your skin already decreases in thickness by about 7% every year due to natural aging, caffeine could accelerate that process, therefore exacerbating the problem (JAAD). Plus, it has been shown that topical creams containing methylxanthines, including caffeine, take at least two months to achieve results, and the effects stop once you stop treatment (Dermatologic Surgery).
Menthol is made synthetically or derived from peppermint oil. It’s a chemical penetration enhancer, which means that it helps other ingredients absorb into the skin. It does this by causing vasodillation in the area it’s applied to and thus reducing skin barrier function (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology). This is how you’re going to get that caffeine in the Clarins Body Fit Anti-Cellulite Lotion deep into your skin. However, it can be irritating for those with sensitive skin so be sure to patch test before applying all over your legs!
How to Use
I like to use this after I take a shower. I massage it into my legs starting at the ankle and moving up to the waist. It’s important that you rub this in more vigorously than you would a typical lotion to help stimulate circulation! It is a fun, creamy pink gel that I didn’t find to be irritating. I would say that after a few uses my legs looked smoother but it’s hard to tell if that is just in my head.
Bottom Line on Clarins Anti-Cellulite Contouring Expert
Overall the Clarins Body Fit Anti-Cellulite Lotion is nice, pleasant to use, and smells great. It sounds odd, but I feel like it has made my skin feel more taut or tight over time, after about a month of constant use. (It may be a unique solution to turkey neck or jowls, or for those with loose, hanging skin!) And I do think my cellulite is less visible. However, I wouldn’t count on it to be a permanent solution to cellulite. Using it in conjunction with other methods may be more helpful! Here are some of my favorite ways to treat and prevent cellulite.