Women have cellulite. Indeed, some 80 to 90 per cent of women have cellulite. So why do so many of us banish bikinis to bottom drawers and hastily switch off bedroom lights to hide lumpy thighs and dimpled derrières? Maybe because it’s misunderstood.
The anxiety that “orange peel” skin provokes – and selfie-centric culture seems to amplify – has meant plenty of cash for the beauty industry. Products and procedures abound, from ambitious topicals and massage machines, to lasers and even caffeine-infused knickers.
However, the scientific evidence to support the claims these treatments make ranges from thin to non-existent. Slight improvements to the skin are possible, but are not likely to last. Even blasting your bum with lasers won’t give you permanent perk.
So, if you’re thinking about investing months of savings in what sounds like the Cadillac of cellulite treatments, or just picking up a tube of anti-cellulite cream the next time you’re at the supermarket, don’t. You’re just wasting your money, and fuelling the anxiety.
While there’s no miracle cure, you can improve the appearance of your skin. But first, and perhaps more importantly, it helps to understand that a bit of bulge is perfectly normal in the first place.
Cellulite is so common in women that some doctors consider it a secondary sex characteristic, no different from breasts or bush. We are far more prone to it than men, partially because our skin architecture is not the same.
In both men and women, bands of connective tissue tether the skin to a layer of muscle. In between the skin and muscle is a layer(s) of fat. In men, these bands are arranged in a crisscross pattern, which helps to evenly distribute the fat. In women, on the other hand, these bands form vertical columns that pull down on the skin, causing fat cells to bulge upward, creating that dimpled effect we call cellulite. And it doesn’t help that we have more fat to begin with, thanks to oestrogen.
Some people’s bands of connective tissue are more flexible than others: the less flexible, the greater the bulge. This may explain why some thin, fit people have cellulite, and some overweight people do not. And as we age, these bands tighten and lose their flexibility, meaning cellulite can worsen.
So now for the good news. Quitting food and living at the gym will not make your cellulite disappear, but healthy eating and regular exercise that targets problem areas – thighs, bums, arms and tummies – can make it less noticeable and improve the skin’s appearance.
A good exfoliant doesn’t hurt either. Gently removing dead skin cells with a body scrub will brighten, smooth and freshen up your skin, improving its texture. You can make your own at home by combining an abrasive (brown sugar, sea salt, oatmeal, coffee grounds) with an oil (coconut, almond, jojoba, olive, rapeseed).
And of course we could all just listen to Nora Ephron: "Oh how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was 26. If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don't take it off until you're 34."
Or until whenever you want. email@example.com