Despite the fact that cellulite affects between 80 and 90% of women at some point in their life, how much do we actually know about it? We spoke with ex-beauty editor and founder of Legology Kate Shapland and the experts at Mio to get to the bottom of what cellulite is, who it affects, why we get it and how we can reduce the appearance of those unsightly bulges that lie beneath.
What is Cellulite?
When we talk about cellulite, we are specifically referring to fat cells which push their way through the connective tissue that lies beneath the surface of the skin, resulting in the uneven or bumpy appearance of skin on the surface. “Cellulite fat is no different to normal fat” explains Kate. “It is, however, usually in an area of the body where there is a high density of fat cells and a tendency to retain fluid between those cells.” Although cellulite can appear pretty much anywhere, it is mostly common on thighs, buttocks, upper arms and abdomen, but it can also present on lower legs and even ankles.
Who is Affected by Cellulite?
The good news is, you’re not alone, the bad news is cellulite is extremely common and affects between 80 and 90% of the female population.“While both sexes can present cellulite, women are more prone because of the way women’s collagen is arranged.” says Kate. In men, collagen is arranged in a tightly packed mesh format where as women’s collagen sits in neat organised rows which allows the fat cells to push up and in between the fibres, resulting in the uneven appearance of the skin. Women are also more likely to be affected by cellulite due to the role that hormones play in its production. As females approach puberty, or when they start to take the contraceptive pill, their estrogen levels rise and encourage the body to retain fluid, “this retention crowds the area between the fat cells and pushes them out of alignment,” explains Kate, “leading to the uneven appearance of the overlying skin.” Cellulite can also worsen or even appear for the first time during menopause – when estrogen levels dip and blood flow to the connective tissue under the skin decreases, making it easier for fat cells to push through.
Why Do We Get Cellulite?
Unfortunately, there are many factors which contribute to cellulite. The main causes are genetic, hormonal, fluid retention and lifestyle, “which is why you can be slim as a pin and have cellulite, or overweight and not have it – or not very much anyway,” says Kate. It’s this mix of factors which makes cellulite so challenging to shift. Lifestyle and diet can also contribute; smokers and those who do not exercise regularly or stand for long periods at a time are more prone. A high fat, low fibre diet is also a contributing factor.
What Can We Do About It?
The bad news is, you can never completely get rid of cellulite, however there are things you can do to help improve and even disguise the appearance of it. Reducing your fat intake will ultimately mean there is less fat to push through the connective tissue and sticking to a healthy, well-balanced diet including regular exercise and staying hydrated will help to keep your body lean, toned and detoxified. Regular massage or brisk body brushing can also help to encourage the release of any trapped fluid around the cells and improve lymph and blood circulation. “Body brushing has been big news for some time now and is hailed by beauty editors across the globe for its remarkable impact on cellulite prevention.” Explains Emily Flinders, Content Editor at Mio. New to body brushing? Emily recommends incorporating it into your routine for a minimum of three minutes, three times a week.
Step 1: It’s best to body brush in the morning, or before you shower, start at the soles of your feet.
Step 2: Work up your calves in long sweeping strokes, always brushing in the direction of your heart to complement the natural direction of your lymphatic system.
Step 3: Pay special attention to the backs of thighs or areas where cellulite is most prevalent.
Step 4: Now move onto your arms, starting on your hands and continuing to brush in long, upward strokes towards the heart.
Step 5: Finally, brush your tummy and chest, using clockwise strokes on your tummy, following the direction of your digestive system.
To help prevent cellulite, look for deep drainage bodycare containing caffeine, grape seed extract or gingko biloba, all of which work to dehydrate cells, making them less visible.
If you do feel subconscious about cellulite, there are skin-perfecting products out there infused with caffeine and light-diffusing particles that give the skin a flawless appearance and disguise imperfections and cellulite.