Prev Next

Do Anti-Cellulite Treatments Work?

By Amalah

Hi Amy!
I don’t have a very serious or personal question, but I was wondering about the new cellulite cream from Nivea. Does it work? Are the pills better? I have some mild thigh cellulite and it’s not worth the expensive brands, but I like Nivea’s other products and was curious. So I turn to you, goddess of google for the answers.

Nope, nope and more nope. Cellulite treatments — creams, pills, fancy vibrating devices, even laser treatments — do not work.
No, I obviously haven’t tried all of the above, in fact, I’ve only tried two personally. (Something by Bliss and a long-since-discontinued drugstore brand, something that supposedly harness the AWESOME FAT-BURNING POWER OF GREEN TEA, back when green tea was the new aloe, or whatever.)
Neither worked. At all. The Bliss treatment came with a wooden brushy torture device thing (similar to this one) that you were supposed to brush/smooth/flog yourself with in the shower — I used it until my skin turned red and other than an extremely temporary decrease in the appearance of my cellulite (which very likely could have just been caused from SWELLING, because seriously, that brushy thing could hurt if you did it for as long as the instructions told you to), I saw zero actual reduction in the dimply portions of my thighs and butt. The cream, at least, didn’t require any physical PAIN…but the “results” were probably even more of a joke.
bliss%20cellulite.jpgNew anti-cellulite treatments hit the market almost daily, but there’s just one little tiny insurmountable problem: They don’t work. Check out this article from the Wall Street Journal. This quote in particular: “There’s nothing that has been shown in any objective way to create improvement for cellulite,” says Robert A. Weiss, president-elect of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.
Even expensive laser treatments are falling short, with cellulite returning within days or even HOURS after the procedure. Think about it: if sharks with friggin’ laser beams attached to their heads can’t effectively smooth out some thigh dimples, what are the odds a $13 bottle of moisturizer will do anything at all?
Going back to the WSJ article, it’s interesting to read the FDA’s take on the anti-cellulite product market (which is expected to grow to $200 million a year by 2012, up from $80 million last year). Mostly, if you want to waste your money, they’re not going to stop you with dissenting “opinions” and “science.” The devices and creams and miracle salves aren’t dangerous, so…fine. Whatever. Knock yourself out. And I think this is where they get even the most skeptical of us. It’s $12, it can’t hurt, it MIGHT help, so…we figure what the hell and toss the cream into our shopping cart.
But just remember that all the “clinical studies” that the products talk about are very small, company-sponsored studies. Like 25 people, all of whom may be employees of the product’s manufacturer. And no, they don’t really have to disclose this to you. It was a clinical study! They wore white lab coats and EVERYTHING.
Women get cellulite. We just do! I’ve had it for years, pre-pregnancies even, when I was skinny and active and everything. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal. Staying (mostly sort-of) fit, moisturized and subtly self-tanned seems to downplay its appearance somewhat, and when surveying all the many costly options out there, I think “somewhat” is actually pretty darn good. Chalk the never-ending quest for super-smooth little-girl thighs up to yet ANOTHER example of society/media/cosmetic industry trying to make us feel guilty for daring to age past puberty.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

icon icon
chat bubble icon