Right around the time we were gearing up for our recent body lotion report, the Federal Trade Commision (FTC) ruled, once again, that creams, serums and lotions cannot legally claim to make you skinny. (Nivea learned this the hard way in a $900,000 settlement in June.) But that doesn't mean they won't try.
Sifting through the half-truths and empty promises of hundreds of dollars worth of overpriced creams and treatments can be a harrowing and emotionally taxing ride. Far too often the thrill of potentially finding "The One," prevents consumers from seeing the truth. So let's just boil this down to the facts. Here's your cellulite primer:
1. It doesn't care if you're skinny. While, yes, cellulite is the result of fat deposits (typically on thighs and buttocks), it is an ailment of both the fit and fat alike. According to Medical News Today, a study by Neutrogena revealed that 70 percent of women have cellulite. Plus, it's far more prevalent in women because men have thicker skin.
2. No cream will rid you of cellulite. Doctors say that while some creams may "improve the appearance of" cellulite -- and even that is still up for debate -- results are temporary at best. Ingredients that seem to have the best results include caffeine, which increases blood flow to the skin and flushes out moisture, and retinol, which exfoliates and is said to increase collagen production, making skin thicker and hiding cellulite. However, it's not clear whether any cream can actually offer enough of these ingredients to penetrate the skin and work well. In either case, higher concentrations may cause dryness and peeling.
3. Even the best ingredients are still unproven. There is no conclusive scientific evidence that even retinol- or caffeine-laden formulas actually work; for every study that shows their effectiveness, there is a conflicting study to contradict it. Perceived results may be due to a placebo effect or increased blood flow thanks to the rigorous massaging recommended by many cellulite creams. Beauty experts like Paula Beguon, founder of the sites Beautypedia.com and CosmeticsCop.com, have suggested that massaging on an exfoliating lotion daily may have similar results. Lisa M. Donofrio, M.D., told ABC News that if patients are insistent on trying the creams, they should stick with the inexpensive varieties and give them up to eight weeks to work. Try taking photographs along the way to gauge whether there is a real difference. And if you stop applying, you'll stop seeing results.
4. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The FTC works tirelessly to remove products making false claims from the market, but that doesn't mean a few won't slip through the cracks. Always approach products promising drastic results with caution.