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Updated February 2022
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Buying guide for best cellulite creams

Skin on the thighs, buttocks, and stomach sometimes dimples and looks bumpy due to cellulite. Although cellulite is perfectly natural and harmless, it can make you feel unattractive. Cellulite creams combat this undesirable “cottage cheese” effect by smoothing and tightening the skin, often using ingredients like caffeine, retinol, or natural botanical ingredients. How you apply cellulite creams and lotions also matters. Some products offer massage techniques while other cellulite creams come with roll-on applicators.

When choosing a cellulite cream, you’ll be confronted with a lot of choices. A cellulite cream shouldn’t be too greasy and should absorb well into the skin. There are some that also work on stretch marks and even under-eye puffiness. The key is consistent use, so choose a product that smells nice and doesn’t dry out your skin.

We’re here to help you select a cellulite cream that works for you. For a more in-depth understanding of these beauty products, read our shopping guide. For a quick selection, see our trusted picks.

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Caffeine is a popular ingredient in cellulite creams. It firms and tones the skin, reducing the appearance of cellulite.

What causes cellulite?

Fibrous vertical cords of connective tissue lie just beneath your skin’s surface. They connect the skin to muscle, with a layer of fat in between. When fat deposits beneath the skin accumulate and push up, these cords get pulled down, causing the skin to dimple.

Cellulite is the condition in which the skin is dimpled in appearance (like the texture of an orange peel), and it usually occurs on the thighs, stomach, and buttocks. It can also occur in other areas where fat deposits.

Cellulite is more common in women than in men, and it can be genetic: if your mother has dimpled thighs, chances are you will, too. Cellulite can also result from lifestyle habits, like a poor diet and lack of exercise. Aging may also cause cellulite, as your skin produces less collagen and loses elasticity as years go by. Lastly, weight gain and pregnancy can cause cellulite.

Your personal habits can help reduce the appearance of cellulite.

  • Diet: A low-sodium diet may help combat cellulite, as salt causes fat cells to swell. Eating a healthy, high-fiber diet with lots of vegetables and fruits helps keep toxins and waste moving out of your body. Toxins that accumulate in the fat layer can cause inflammation and the appearance of cellulite.
  • Hydration: Dehydration weakens and thins the skin, making the appearance of cellulite more pronounced. Drinking plenty of water will improve the skin all around.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise has many health benefits, not to mention weight loss. At the end of the day, cellulite is fat, so losing weight may also mean losing the appearance of cellulite.
  • Body massagers: Handheld body massagers with nubs, when used directly on cellulite, create a smoother appearance by helping break up fluid. “Body brushing” is another technique in which a bristle body brush helps eliminate toxins in the lymphatic system. Again, toxins caught in fat can make cellulite appear worse.
  • Exfoliation: Exfoliating with caffeine-laden body scrubs can help tighten the skin and stimulate lymphatic drainage.

Common cellulite cream ingredients

Anti-cellulite creams, serums, and lotions can help minimize the appearance of cellulite. These products contain ingredients that help tighten and smooth the skin where it has dimpled and puckered.

Caffeine is a common ingredient in cellulite creams that firms and tightens skin. It temporarily shrinks fat cells by dehydrating the area. A cellulite cream that contains this basic miracle ingredient may also work for under-eye puffiness because it pushes away the fluids that cause that pesky puff. Before you use a cellulite cream on your eye area, however, be sure the product’s manufacturer deems it safe to do so. 

Retinol is a popular ingredient used to combat wrinkles, but it also works on cellulite by thickening skin and increasing blood flow. Be aware, however, that retinol can be drying or too harsh for sensitive skin types.

Peptides are the building blocks for collagen and elastin, which make up the connective tissue that, when weakened, allows cellulite to poke through. Peptides are naturally occurring amino acids and are considered safe for topical use.

Shea butter helps keep skin soft and smooth. It’s rich in vitamins that boosts collagen production and is extremely hydrating, so if you suffer from dry skin, give it a try. It’s also great for stretch mark prevention, especially with pregnant mothers.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is important to collagen synthesis. It also has anti-inflammatory properties (inflammation aggravates cellulite).

Hyaluronic acid plumps and tightens skin naturally and gently. It’s also hydrating.

Centella asiatica is a botanical ingredient (also known as “gotu kola”) that boosts collagen production and increases blood circulation. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.

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Did you know?
By some estimates, cellulite affects 98 percent of women.


Hot creams will give your skin and muscles that tingly sensation of a topical muscle relaxant. Some hot creams double as a muscle and joint relief aid after a workout or for general muscle soreness.

Some products have an aromatherapy component. Essential oils are more commonly found in cellulite massage oils than in creams, but some cream manufacturers use them as well, claiming they combat cellulite.

If you don’t want to buy a separate cellulite massager or brush, consider a cellulite cream that includes a rollerball applicator with several mini “massage” balls in the product’s tip. The rollerballs stimulate circulation and break up fluid, all the while dispensing the product onto your skin. 

Cellulite cream prices

A low-priced cellulite cream can be found between $10 and $15. Hot creams tend to fall into this category. From $20 to $37, you’ll find some mid-range cellulite creams that may contain a combination of specialized ingredients and/or organic ingredients. Many cellulite creams in this price category are of high quality. However, you’re more likely to find high-performance formulas with clinically proven results in the top tier of the price range, between $40 and upwards of $100.

"“Hot” cellulite cream gives the skin a tingling icy-hot sensation and may also double as a muscle relaxer."


  • There is no miracle cure for cellulite. Genetics often play a role, which means a lot of it may be out of your control and may not respond to treatments. Try loving yourself and your body just the way it is. Self-love and self-acceptance are attractive qualities!
  • While caffeine may be great for your skin topically, drinking too much coffee may make cellulite appear worse because of its dehydrating property.
  • To enhance the effect of your cellulite cream, consider purchasing a cellulite massager to use with or without the product. Many of these are designed for shower use.
  • For a more absorbent product, look for a cellulite cream that’s combined with a gel formula.
  • Using a cellulite cream consistently will yield the best results. Some creams require morning and nightly application. We recommend at least daily application.
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Many cellulite creams can also help reduce the appearance of stretch marks, especially creams that contain retinol — a dermatologist favorite that addresses all kinds of skin texture issues.


Q. How long do I have to wait before seeing results from a cellulite cream? A. Cellulite creams work differently on different bodies. In general, give your product eight weeks to work.

Q. I’m pregnant and have developed cellulite. Are cellulite creams safe for me?
First, cellulite is perfectly natural to develop during pregnancy, and so are stretch marks. (These are also common for women who aren’t pregnant). If you’re looking to reduce their appearance, try organic shea butter. Doctors generally don’t recommend using cellulite products during pregnancy, especially ones containing retinol (it can lead to birth defects), caffeine (a stimulant best avoided while pregnant), and DMAE. Because the FDA does not regulate beauty products, they could potentially contain harmful ingredients. Be aware, too, that your cellulite may diminish after pregnancy. You could also join the wave of body-positive celebs like Chrissy Teigen and Ashley Graham who post their stretch marks and cellulite on social media.

Q. Will cellulite cream get rid of my cellulite entirely?
Cellulite creams only claim to help with the appearance of cellulite, not banish it altogether. Manage your expectations when purchasing a cellulite cream and be sure to give it eight weeks of consistent use before deciding whether it worked.

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