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To say that cellulite — aka the fat deposits under the skin that cause that rippling, dimpled appearance we’re all too familiar with — is a common nuisance would be an understatement. Experts estimate that this pesky condition occurs in 98 percent of women! Lucky for you, we’ve tracked down the best cellulite cream and treatments on the market for maximum results.
What Is cellulite?
In order to know how to reduce the appearance of cellulite, you’ll first need to know what cellulite is. New Jersey-based dermatologist Asma Ahmed told Man Repeller in 2018 that “Cellulite is caused by fibrous bands that run from skin to muscle through the fat, and when they pull downward on the skin, the fat pushes upward.” He added: “This creates an orange peel appearance with dimpled skin, which is what we know as cellulite.”
Cellulite tends to get worse as we age due to a natural decrease in estrogen, which in turn decreases circulation and collagen production. At the same time, our fat cells are getting larger, allowing them to protrude through our collagen as cellulite.
How to Reduce Cellulite
Though there have been many claims to the contrary, there is no magic cure-all for cellulite — at least that’s supported by research.
Eating a nutritious diet and exercising can help to prevent the formation of increased cellulite, but even the most dedicated of fitness junkies won’t be able to eradicate it completely. As The Cellulite Cure (13.95, Amazon) author and osteopathic physician Lionel Bissoon explained to The Scientific American in 2009, “There is some connection between cellulite, diet and exercise, but not a direct one. Although a healthier lifestyle can reduce the appearance of cellulite, it’s not a real or effective treatment.”
Still, there are certain ingredients and techniques that may yield improved results, with some being more significant than others. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) points to several studies where promise has been shown in making cellulite less noticeable. Many such treatments involve trips to a doctors’ office for pricey procedures, including Cellulaze, a laser-based treatment that can net results of one year or longer, or subcision (aka Cellfina), in which a needle is inserted just under the skin to break up tough bands beneath.
A few at-home treatments have also proven effective when it comes to reducing the appearance of cottage cheese-like skin, however, including creams and lotions. According to the AAD, “products containing caffeine may dehydrate cells, which can make cellulite less obvious” — though it must be applied daily to keep up with results.
Products with at least 0.3 percent of retinol may also have an effect on your skin’s dimpled appearance, as it can help to thicken the epidermis, subsequently reducing the amount of visible cellulite on your thighs, rear, and more. These should be used for at least six months to determine effective results.
As the first cellulite treatment to be approved by the FDA, endermologie, or the process of deep message with a hand-held roller that also lifts problem areas, has also shown varying results in studies, per the AAD. Again, though, treatments must be continued for effective results, as cellulite can “return” within a month after stopping.
Other methods of cellulite reduction, including supplementation of caffeine, gingko biloba, and grade seed extract, cryolipolysis (a process in which unwanted fat is targeted through freezing techniques), and mesotherapy, in which patients are injected with caffeine, hormones, enzymes, and herbal extracts, have shown little evidence in being effective.
Armed with this info, FIRST for Women has sorted through tons of products and marketing gimmicks to determine which ones will most effectively zap your skin into tip-top shape — or at least give it a smoother appearance. Keep reading for FIRST for Women’s picks for the best cellulite cream and treatment on the market today!
We write about products we think our readers will like. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the supplier. See more of our best product recommendations.
NuBODY Skin Toning Device
Where to buy: $399, Sephora
This FDA-cleared device — the first of its kind — uses microcurrents of electrical waves to target problem areas in an effort to make them appear tighter and tauter. Its website cites an independent clinical study, which found that 92 percent of women saw increased tone after using the device five days per week for at least 60 days.
Advanced Clinicals Retinol Firming Cream
Where to buy: $11.02, Amazon
According to the AAD, products that contain 0.3 percent of retinol may see users noticing less cellulite after using them for six months or longer. Unfortunately, since manufacturers aren’t required to list the percentage of retinol found within their products, it can be a extremely challenging to know when you’re getting more than marketing in a cellulite cream that relies on retinol for its firming properties. While Advanced Clinicals does not list the percentage of retinol found within its top-rated, advanced firming cream, the company did claim to use the “proven science” of a 2009 study, which found that 0.04 percent retinol cream — the “lowest clinically documented percentage for improving visible signs of aging” — was “an ideal percentage” for treating wrinkles and discoloration without side effects. This spa-size jar includes a pump for ease of use and includes soothing green tea, aloe vera, and chamomile to reduce irritation.
Dr. Barbara Sturm Anti Cellulite Brush
Where to buy: $35, Sephora
For a natural way to zap cellulite, give this dry brush from Dr. Barbara Strum a go. Dry brushes work when their stiff bristles are rubbed against cellulite in upward strokes. Jennifer Chwalek, MD, a dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York, told Women’s Health in May 2019 that the “movement will stimulate the lymphatic system and boosting circulation, which may temporarily result in the appearance of smoother skin.”
This particular cruelty-free find comes with soft bristles for sensitive skin or medium bristles for firmer friction.
Brooklyn Botany Arabica Coffee Scrub
Where to buy: $13.95, Amazon
Unlike retinol, which works to thicken skin cells, making cellulite less obvious, caffeinated products work to dehydrate them, effectively “shrinking” them — and their attached cellulite — when applied on a daily basis.
Amazon customers swear by this Arabica coffee scrub from Brooklyn Botany. In addition to its included caffeine, its grounds exfoliate your body as you massage them into your skin — a technique which improves circulation to temporarily give off a smooth appearance and remove residual dirt. This product, which is chock-full age-fighting antioxidants, can also be used on the face to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, sun spots, and fine lines.
bliss Fabgirl Firm
Where to buy: $14.00 (Originally $24): bliss
Caffeine is the workhorse ingredient found in this cruelty-free blend, though it’s supported by an impressive list of botanicals, including lavender flower, peppermint, raspberry, spearmint, and green tea extracts (to name a few). Multiple buyers noted that it takes some time to see results from this cream, but in the meantime, you can enjoy its hydrating properties, as many customers also favor it as a standalone moisturizer.
“This product is quite literally the BEST moisturizer I have EVER used,” one purchaser shared. “I suffer from dry itchy skin …. I will scratch myself to the point of bleeding and inflamed skin if I'm not careful. … Since using this product itchy dry skin is GONE.”
Wellbox S Tissular Cellulite Endermologie Therapy
Where to buy: $1,199, Amazon
Pricey though it may be, when you consider the cost of in-office endermologie therapy sessions, which can cost between $150 to $200, with 20 sessions being standard and results beginning to fade after one month, this at-home Wellbox S Tissular machine begins to look like a bargain! Designed to revitalize deep tissue and stimulate the skin, this device mimics tools used by professionals on celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez, and Penelope Cruz, that claim to smooth skin and zap away cellulite. Take heed, however: Buyers caution that it works best with a partner for your hard-to-reach areas, like your back.
The Seaweed Bath Co. Body Cream Detox Cellulite
Where to buy: $7.99, Target
A 2014 study published in Advances in Botanical Research found that certain types of brown seaweed can “[stimulate] blood flow and [aid] the body in shedding excess fluids,” allowing it to reduce the appearance of cellulite. This budget-friendly find uses a blend of organic, sustainably-harvested bladderwack seaweed, green coffee bean and tea extracts, and hyaluronic acid to make your body dimples appear smaller by promoting elasticity. As an added bonus, it also works to detoxify your skin.
Clarins Body Fit Anti-Cellulite Contouring Expert
Where to buy: $70, Sephora
A staple on nearly all “best cellulite” zapping lists, this toning formula has the studies to back it up: Clinical research showed that 80 percent of users saw visible results after four weeks of use! It uses antioxidant and vitamin-packed quince leaf extract to work its magic — something customers say it certainly does.
Take it from this Sephora reviewer, who gushed, “It really does work to tighten the skin, and makes my legs look so much better. After about a week of using it, my cellulite has been reduced significantly and it lasts all day long. It's not a miracle cure, but it works much better than anything else I have tried.”
M3 Naturals Anti-Cellulite Massage Oil
Where to buy: $29.41, Amazon
With nearly 7,000 reviews from Amazon customers, 82 percent of which are five-star, it’s safe to assume that M3 Naturals has gotten something right about its anti-cellulite massage oil. The brand uses grape seed oil (a substance rich in fat cell-metabolizing bromelain enzymes), plus grapefruit, eucalyptus, and lemon citrus oil “to release fatty acids into the bloodstream where your body breaks them down to use to fight fat cells and cellulite."
The proof appears to be in the pudding, with purchasers raving, “I definitely see a change on my thighs and upper arms where I applied the anti-cellulite oil,” and “I'm so happy with the way my legs look now! I took before and after pics to see if it really works and YES! It really works!!!”
Where to buy: $279, Amazon
Unlike the NuBODY, which uses electrical microcurrents to get results, or the Wellness box, which mimics endermologie, the FDA-approved Silk’n Silhouette uses LED light therapy, radio frequency, and infrared heat to “stimulate collagen to rejuvenate skin.” With few independent studies to support the effectiveness of such treatments in-office, we turned to the company’s site reviews, which featured plenty of happy customers.
Wrote one physician and purchaser: “[I] was skeptical about home treatments, but this really works! ... I have used this for only two weeks and have measurable, noticeable improvements. The dimpling/extra flab on my thighs is virtually gone. I have started using it on my arms, and the skin is much tighter.”
Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream
Where to buy: $45, Sephora
Sephora shoppers can’t get enough of this Brazilian cream, which uses nourishing cupuaçu butter, antioxidant açaí, coconut oil, and guarana. And it’s no wonder, the latter contains five times the caffeine of coffee, according to the website's product description! More than 3,000 purchasers (and counting) have given it a five-star review, calling it the “holy grail” and a “miracle cream.” In addition to its delicious smell, they raved about noticeable results as soon as two weeks in.
One woman also claimed it helped to reduce her stretch marks, writing, “This cream has given me confidence in my skin again! I barely notice any cellulite on my legs, and my skin feels a lot tighter than it used to. I believe because it's been tightening my skin, it's diminished my stretch marks drastically where they blend in with my skin perfectly instead of standing out.”
Luxe Spa Formula No. 33
Where to buy: $89.99, Amazon
Luxe Spa Formula’s No. 33 lotion has it all. Not only does this Texas-made cream pack a one-two punch with two of cellulite's biggest adversaries, retinol and caffeine, it’s also contains three types of seaweed. Add in green and white tea extracts and skin-plumping collagen, and you’ve got a recipe for some seriously smooth skin — just ask Amazon shoppers.
“This is the ONLY product that has worked to reduce my turkey neck after a large amount of weight loss,” wrote one, with another raving, “I struggle with cellulite on my thighs and butt. This product has totally improved the appearance of cellulite on my legs. … It's worth the money. It works.”
For best results, the company recommends applying twice a day for eight weeks or more.
Where to buy: $248, Neiman Marcus
This French concoction uses a unique blend of toning, softening, and nourishing ingredients to give skin an instantly smoother appearance, and claims to reduce the appearance of cellulite in just four weeks. Its star player is ginkgo biloba leaf extract, which some believe can reduce the appearance of cellulite by increasing blood circulation and strengthening vessel walls. Shea butter, meanwhile, keeps your skin feeling baby-soft, while sunflower and rapeseed oils aim to nurture.