Bath & Body Care Advice

The Top Causes of Cellulite and What to Do About It

womans legs without cellulite

Trending Topic: Cellulite Treatment & Prevention

Let’s face it: Cellulite is frustrating. These dimples affect roughly 80–90 percent of women, according to a 2015 study on cellulite by the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology. And for such a common frustration, many of us have no idea what causes cellulite—and, more important, how to prevent or treat it. Fortunately, there’s enough research and data out there to help us identify, treat and prevent cellulite. Learn what really causes cellulite and how to effectively treat or prevent it below.

The Culprits: Causes of Cellulite

Genetics play a significant role in increasing the likelihood of cellulite, but they’re not the only factor. It takes many layers to form the skin, and when these layers aren’t in harmony, cellulite occurs. Under the epidermis and dermis, the skin’s shallowest layer of fat sometimes pushes against the connective tissue, causing the skin above it to pucker and create a bumpy texture. It’s thought that when the skin’s connective tissue weakens, these fat protrusions develop more easily. Aging and thinning skin can exacerbate the process, while, estrogen, insulin and thyroid hormone imbalances may also contribute. In short, genetics, connective-tissue weakening, aging and hormone imbalances can all cause cellulite.

A Few Myths to Ignore

Have you ever heard that “Cellulite only affects women of a certain body type”? It’s not true! Cellulite can affect men, although rarely, especially those suffering from hormone imbalances. And, yes, thin women can get cellulite, too. While the effect is heightened by weight gain, this issue affects women of all shapes, colors and sizes.

“Liposuction is a cure-all for cellulite” is another common myth. Despite these claims, its effects vary per person—some may see improvement, while others might actually experience more pronounced pock marking.

Healthy Habits to Treat/Prevent Cellulite

Healthy skin reflects a healthy diet—and vice versa. If you’re consuming a lot of fat, carbs and salt, your skin is likely to show it, so watch what you’re putting into your body. Even if you already have a bit of dimply skin, regular aerobic exercise and resistance training can help cut back on your body fat content, which can improve the texture of the skin. Your best line of defense might be the weight room. Firm muscle tissue contributes to smoother, more even skin, so start practicing your squats and deadlifts. A more sedentary, unbalanced lifestyle leaves you open to cellulite formation—so stay active and healthy to stay smooth.

Additional Cellulite Treatment Options

Cellulite treatment options include everything from body lotion to more innovative, in-office approaches. Shock-wave therapy is one particularly innovative option. This noninvasive procedure uses low-energy waves to bolster the proteins that make up the skin’s connective tissue, potentially easing the appearance of cellulite over time. Topical caffeine- and aminophylline-based products (like this one by Mio with shea butter and caffeine or this one by Jan Marini with aminophylline and glycolic acid) can also help to smooth lumpy skin by limiting fatty tissue production at the source.

Just as there’s no one-size-fits-all cause for cellulite, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. We recommend trying a multi-faceted approach, like a combination of a healthy diet, active lifestyle and a topical treatment.


This article has been reviewed by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Emmy Graber.

Dermstore Editors

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