Removing cellulite is a hefty preoccupation for some people, which means there is plenty of money to be made from cellulite creams of dubious nature. Many skin creams that purport to treat cellulite simply do not work, while others may have some basis in science, and work at least for a short period of time.
No cellulite cream can remove all cellulite, and there is no cellulite treatment that works forever.
Active ingredients in cellulite creams – what they do
Caffeine, aminophylline and theophylline (methylxanthines)
These chemicals all work to dehydrate skin, pulling it taut, thereby reducing the appearance of cellulite temporarily. As soon as the skin re-hydrates, the cellulite returns. While it can be useful for a short-term fix, it isn’t ideal, as healthy, plump skin is hydrated.
Vitamin A derivatives
Strong vitamin A creams are used to treat skin conditions like acne and early signs of ageing, because they stimulate collagen growth. The general idea is that it helps tighten and firm the skin that covers the cellulite area, reducing the appearance of the dimples, though most high-dose retinol creams are prescription-only, as they are very strong. Weaker, over-the-counter products may vary in efficacy. The effects are somewhat cumulative, but after retinol use ceases, the skin will return to normal.
A study into single-active-ingredient topical cellulite treatments found that there is very little evidence that topical creams have much of a positive impact on the appearance of cellulite. Out of four studies into caffeine and retinol, only one cream was found to have more effect than placebo cream. In the 14 studies that tested complex mixtures, just five showed any improvement in cellulite after treatment.
What we know does work
We use several wave-based devices (such as the Slimspec and ThermiRF) to stimulate tissue, remove trapped fluids, and firm skin, reducing the appearance of cellulite in an effective way – this is actually altering the tissues in a beneficial way, not just rubbing cream on the outside.
These devices work very well, although like all other treatments, they are not a long-lasting solution. They are, however, a longer-lasting and less labour-intensive method compared to applying creams every day, since a series of treatments is completed, then repeated at intervals as required.