You know you should love your body, but it can be hard when you see and feel the little bumps of cellulite that stipple your arms and legs. It’s only natural to turn to the web for insight into these particularly unsightly fat cells; unfortunately, the internet and even newspapers and magazines are filled with misinformation about cellulite. For example, just this year, Cosmopolitan released an article that advocated massage and exfoliation as reliable remedies for cellulite, when health experts know for certain those tricks don’t work.
If you truly want to see the end of your cellulite, you need to learn to separate myth from fact. Here are a few hard truths about cellulite that might help you say goodbye to bumpy-looking fat for good.
Cellulite Isn’t Just Chunky Fat
If you ask, most people will tell you that cellulite is fat cells that are chunkier than normal, which is why they present as irregular bumps. However, the truth is cellulite is comprised of regular fat cells that grow irregularly amidst the structural cells beneath the skin.
Just underneath the surface, your body is covered in a layer of connective tissue made primarily of collagen. These tissues are supposed to cleanly separate the skin from the fat below, but sometimes, the fat cells can poke through. The fibrous strands of connective tissue indent while the fat cells protrude, creating the characteristic bumps of cellulite.
Some researchers believe that cellulite is closely linked to hormonal activity. In particular, a decrease in estrogen may decrease circulation to the far-flung areas of the body, like the outer cells of the thighs. In turn, this decreases collagen production, which leads to malformed connective tissue that allows fat to poke through. Older women approaching menopause tend to produce less estrogen, which is perhaps why older women tend to see more cellulite around their bodies.
Everybody Can Get Cellulite
The shape and strength of your connective tissues is almost entirely dependent on your genes. Studies have shown that it doesn’t matter whether you are 200 pounds overweight or 20 pounds underweight ― you can still develop cellulite. Research shows that more than 98 percent of women can find cellulite somewhere on their bodies, and the 2 percent who can’t find any should probably thank their thicker skin, which prevents the bumps from showing.
Despite that women are the most often cited sufferers of cellulite, men are also at risk for developing the bumpy fat ― though, admittedly less-so. Only about 10 percent of men can find cellulite on their bodies. This is due to the fundamental structure of women’s and men’s connective tissues: Typically, women’s collagen is shaped like a honeycomb, which provides a greater opportunity for fat to escape outwards than in men’s connective tissue, which is generally a tightly woven grid of Xs. Still, men and women of any body type can have a genetic susceptibility to cellulite.
Unhealthy Behaviors Can Make Cellulite Worse
While your genes may be mostly responsible for your bumpy thighs, your habits might also damage your connective tissue’s ability to keep your fat cells in line. Any substance or activity that weakens collagen, skin thickness, or skin elasticity will lead directly to the development of cellulite.
In particular, researchers believe that behaviors like tanning and smoking tobacco may be closely associated with more severe cases of cellulite. Both of these activities damage the blood vessels that bring nutrients to the connective tissues beneath the skin, thereby decreasing the growth of collagen and increasing the risk for cellulite. If you want your skin to be bump-free, you should kick these habits ASAP ― perhaps by buying some self-tanner or switching to e-cigarettes for a while.
A Healthy Lifestyle Is Your Best Shot
There are dozens of advertised cellulite-busters on the market, from lotions and wraps to laser treatments and surgeries, but few scientists trust any of them. The truth is there is no guaranteed cure for cellulite because it exists in your genetic makeup.By far, the best chance you have for reducing your cellulite is leading a healthy lifestyle. Drinking plenty of water, avoiding sugary and acid-producing foods, and exercising regularly will decrease the amount of fat retained by your connective tissues, which might prevent the fat cells from noticeably protruding.
However, the most realistic advice you can get to help you overcome your fear of cellulite is this: Learn to love it. Everyone has cellulite, whether you notice it or not; in fact, at one time in history, cellulite was considered the epitome of beauty. Though it doesn’t hurt to get healthier, you should never hate yourself for your body’s natural bumps.